In Studio With Megan Turner Of The Curious Cupboard

When Megan Turner contacted me about showing her work on Prairie Style File, I was curious. When she sent over the photos I asked for, my reaction was visceral.

Megan has a very distinct aesthetic and a strong point of view. It’s hard to categorize, but it hits you right in the gut. And it’s a study in extremes. Her necklaces are delicate little wearable gardens, but her work with bones takes you to that still and quiet — and sometimes unnerving — place between life and death.

Terrarium by Megan Turner
One of Megan’s Succulent Terrariums

Megan has an incredible respect and love for the natural world and her work blends both natural and mechanical found elements in a unique way. Her art will appeal to those who love taxidermy, Native American regalia, the steampunk aesthetic and green living, but she creates on her own terms, with her own vision in mind.

If you’re interested in commissioning a piece or purchasing something you see here, her contact info is at the end of this article.

So here’s a look inside Megan’s head, by way of her studio and her art.

All photos and answers in this article as courtesy of Megan Turner. All captions are my own.

Ring by Megan Turner
Wire Wrap Mink Rib Bone Ring

How do you describe what you do?

I describe it as as taking things that most people don’t consider beautiful — or perhaps don’t consider at all — and give them a voice, a reason to be looked at, a decision to reconsider beauty.

What materials do you use?
I use animal bones of all sorts, from skulls, to the tiniest of toe bones. Each bone used comes from local area land or is ordered from a reputable company (Skulls Unlimited).

You can find almost any skull you want on the Internet. But what you need to ask yourself is; ‘Is this a legal skull to own’ (so many ARE NOT — local and federal laws need to be checked), ‘Was this skull obtained ethically and morally?’ Again, so many are not. So I prefer to find my bones from natural cause deaths, discards from hunters or remains from other animals.

Megan Turner Bones
Fitting and squirrel vertebra

I hand process each bone by means of Maceration — which is a technique used to clean, whiten and sanitize bones without altering their integrity. It is a long slow process that requires patience, and a fairly high tolerance to smell. I also do this for other clients who want the end result without the middle step.

I also use other natural curiosities – local and gifted to me from across the country. I take many walks by the river, through the woods and across beaches for shells, driftwood, bark, moss etc. I NEVER disturb live or natural habitat — I prefer to preserve what we have not already destroyed.

What type of customer is attracted to your work?
For sure, two types — (one is) retail based, mass market, wants crafty but not fine art, wants weird…but not too weird 🙂

Then there are my skull buyers and my Maceration clients. They already see the beauty, recognize it and want to collect and own it for what it is and what it was.

Harold the Duck by Megan Turner
Harold, the Taxidermy Duckling — a duckling supplemented with vintage watch parts. Fittingly, he has a companion named Maude.

How do people respond to what your work?
It’s actually really funny you ask – I started playing with Instagram awhile back
(at @ALTEREDART_IST) and found a lot of like-minded people. I have networked in great ways, formed bonds with people I don’t know and will never meet and feel immensely supported by these strangers.

I then started my Facebook Page and have had WAY less positive and supportive response, from these people who I know who are friends. I haven’t figured out exactly why yet – or how much it exactly changes my perspective, but it’s certainly interesting.

Side view of Megan Turner Terrarium
A Hanging Tear Drop Terrarium

Where can we purchase your work?
I have custom order skulls always available — I will collaborate with the buyer to make this exactly what they would like. My most current piece (Lily the Bobcat) resides at Addictions Tattoo.

I also have a variety of bone and natural curiosity jewelry for sale on Etsy as well as some fantastic Airplant Living Jewelry Necklaces.

Locally, I have Airplant Living Plant Necklaces at Unglued on Broadway downtown as well as an assortment of the cutest natural curiosity terrariums.

All terrariums include succulents, small animal bones (found and hand processed by me) No two terrariums are the same, any size available. I’m pretty proud of what is there!

Lily the Bobcat Skull by Megan Turner
Lily the Bobcat Skull (filigree, watch parts, antique candle holder)

What’s your favorite creation?
Hands down, Lily the Bobcat. I miss her intensely.

What inspires you?
I was first inspired by a small roe deer skull, mounted with funny glasses that I purchased from Etsy. I started to dream about skulls (this sounds funny, but is totally true), I started to research — perhaps borderline obsess — over skulls, bones, processing etc.

Then I purchased my first “project” skull – a raccoon….and it all snowballed from there. My mind goes 100 miles an hour. So I knew I not only wanted and desired to make fine art, but had a huge desire to reach mass markets….gently, introducing this type of beauty slowly.

Necklace by Megan Turner
Pendant-style Airplant Necklace (wire wrap, river rock)

What’s your artistic background?
I have always loved to create — mixed media and layering a lot. I took every art, photography, design class I could get my hands on when I was young, in college I took 2 years of all art and interior design….but alas…I never finished. I got pregnant with my daughter going into my third year of art and design…and that’s how the story goes..

Materials from Megan Turner's Studio
Megan’s strange and unusual project materials — found, foraged, scavenged, collected, picked or haggled for at flea markets, thrift stores and curiosity shops.

Describe the space you work in.
My space makes me INCREDIBLY happy. To put it bluntly, it’s a storage unit. My husband stores his tools — and I, and another amazing artist (Nicole Hendrickson) share the back half.

It is dark, it is quiet. It is calm. It is my release. It’s my favorite space.

What type of customer do you want?
In my PERFECT World, I would own a gorgeous plant and curiosity shop with a storefront on Broadway. I would serve retail customers and work custom projects…the best of both worlds….a girl can dream!

Airplant Necklaces by Megan Turner
Airplant Necklaces by Megan Turner

Follow Megan’s creative process on The Curious Cupboard Blog, Instagram and The Curious Cupboard Facebook Page.

Her work is available for purchase on Etsy and at Unglued in downtown Fargo, ND.

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