An Artist Crochets a Life-Size, Anatomically-Correct Skeleton, Complete with Organs

How to make a life-sized fac­sim­i­le of a human skele­ton:

  1. Down­load files pub­lished under a Cre­ative Com­mons license, and arrange to have them 3‑D print­ed.


  1. Do as artist Shanell Papp did, above, and cro­chet one.

The lat­ter will take con­sid­er­ably more time and atten­tion on your part. Papp gave up all extracur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ties for four months to hook the woolen skele­ton around her work and school sched­ule. Equip­ping it with inter­nal organs ate up anoth­er four.

To ensure accu­ra­cy, Papp armed her­self with anatom­i­cal text­books and an actu­al human skele­ton on loan from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Leth­bridge, where she was an under­grad. The brain has gray and white mat­ter, there’s mar­row in the bones, the stom­ach con­tains half-digest­ed wool food, and the intestines can be unspooled to a real­is­tic length.

The gru­el­ing 2006 project did not exhaust her fas­ci­na­tion for the intri­ca­cies of human anato­my. The Uni­ver­si­ty of Saskatchewan grant­ed her open access to draw in the gross anato­my lab while she pur­sued her MFA.


As she told MICE mag­a­zine:

I want­ed this work to illus­trate all of the organs and bones every­one shares and to not high­light dif­fer­ences. Much of anatom­i­cal his­to­ry is about defin­ing dif­fer­ence, by com­par­a­tive analy­sis. This can set up strange tax­onomies and hier­ar­chies. I was­n’t inter­est­ed in par­tic­i­pat­ing in that; I want­ed to expose the frag­ile, com­mon, and unseen things in all of us.  

The fin­ished piece, which is dis­played supine on a gur­ney she nabbed for free dur­ing a mor­tu­ary ren­o­va­tion, incor­po­rates many of Papp’s oth­er abid­ing inter­ests: hor­ror, med­ical his­to­ry, Franken­stein, crime inves­ti­ga­tion, and mor­tu­ary prac­tices.

Papp, who taught her­self how to cro­chet from books as a child, using what­ev­er yarn found its way to her grandma’s junk shop, appre­ci­ates how her cho­sen medi­um adds a lay­er of homey soft­ness and famil­iar­i­ty to the macabre.

It’s also not lost on her that fiber arts, often dis­missed as too “crafty” by the estab­lish­ment, were an impor­tant com­po­nent of 70s-era fem­i­nist art, though in her view, her work is more of a state­ment on the his­to­ry of tex­tile man­u­fac­tur­ing, which is to say the his­to­ry of labor and class strug­gle.

See more of Shanell Papp’s work here.

All images in this post by Shanell Papp.

via design­boom/Mymod­ern­met

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Behold an Anatom­i­cal­ly Cor­rect Repli­ca of the Human Brain, Knit­ted by a Psy­chi­a­trist

The BBC Cre­ates Step-by-Step Instruc­tions for Knit­ting the Icon­ic Dr. Who Scarf: A Doc­u­ment from the Ear­ly 1980s

The Beau­ti­ful Math of Coral & Cro­chet

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inkyzine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 9 for anoth­er sea­son of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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