Artist Combines Chemistry and Art to Grow Crystals on Skulls

Tyler Thrasher
Tyler Thrasher / Tyler Thrasher

Tyler Thrasher takes the macabre and makes it beautiful. The 22-year-old artist grows crystals on animal carcasses, shells, and skeletons, giving them an eerie yet beautiful appearance. He posts the results on Instagram and Facebook, and has been turning some heads in the art world.

Thrasher's fascination with chemistry originated in high school, after he started taking an advanced chemistry class. His friends didn't think he'd be any good at it, so he decided to prove them wrong—and fell in love with it in the process. Although the artist originally wanted to become an animator and went to school for it, he eventually got cold feet and turned his interests elsewhere. It was not until he began caving and exploring that his real passion came into focus.

“I spent a lot of time exploring underground caves and caverns and found my love of nature. I started incorporating natural things into my work, I did a lot of drawing of insects and animals,” Thrasher told The Daily Dot. “I started illustrating and painting crystals, and then I re-found my fascination with crystalline structures and my love of chemistry.”

Thrasher's real inspiration came from a rock covered in crystals that he found in a store. It was chalcanthite, which was grown in a lab. Thrasher remembered what he had learned in chemistry, and decided to try growing some crystals of his own. He then began experimenting by growing blue crystals on a cicada shell.

According to The Daily Dot, Thrasher typically procures his chemicals over the counter or from eBay. Though he doesn't have complete control over where the crystals will grow, he does have the ability to coax them in the right direction. For instance, he can glue crystals to a certain location to encourage larger crystals to grow there. He can also remove unwanted ones by using a paintbrush dipped in solvent.

Most of Thrasher's subjects are spooky items like raccoon skulls, moths, and reptile spines. In the future, he hopes to go big and crystallize something like a tree or an entire skeleton.

“It’s a very weird full-time job,” Thrasher said. “Whenever someone asks me what I do, I can’t just tell them, ‘I crystallize dead sh*t.’”

[h/t Daily Dot]