Meet Ken Kolb: The Dinosaur Bone Artist

Can you imagine wearing dinosaur bones around your neck and liking it?  Or a dinosaur bone on your finger? Artist Ken Kolb has figured out just how you can do that and like it because the most fascinating creatures that ever lived are still giving back to us.

Through figuring out how to make art out of dinosaur bones, artist Ken Kolb brings a new and remarkable learning experience into our subscribers’ toolkits.

“Each item is a piece of history and a work of art,” Ken says. “Now, you are invited to become the curator of this rare, non-renewable natural resource.”

Let’s start the journey with our interview of the Dinosaur Bone Artist and discover more about Montessori dinosaur resources in the process. 

In the Beginning

Q: Did you like dinosaurs when you were a kid?

I totally loved dinosaurs as a kid. I would read all about the discoveries of new dinosaurs and watch every science fiction movie featuring dinosaurs.

Where Dinosaurs Roamed

Q: We know you’re from Utah, did Dinosaurs used to live there?

Dinosaurs actually lived everywhere throughout the prehistoric world. Utah is a place where the weathering forces of geology have exposed extensive sediment layers where dinosaur fossils can be found. Quite a few dinosaur quarries and dinosaur track sites can be found throughout Utah.

Q: Can I find dinosaur bones in my backyard or in the park?

As a matter of fact, the first dinosaur bones I ever found were in my backyard. However, I lived on a very large ranch in Colorado where the exposed land revealed sediments from ancient times when the dinosaurs actually lived and died. Many areas in the mountains west (i.e., Colorado, Utah, Montana, North and South Dakota) have areas where these sediments are exposed and dinosaur skeletons can be found. Unfortunately, unless you live in such an area, you will not find dinosaur bones in your backyard or neighborhood. However, many other types of fossils can be found in almost every state within the United States. 

It is important to know that you cannot collect dinosaur fossils on federal or state land. The American government protects these fossils so that scientists (paleontologists) can study them and better understand life that existed many millions of years ago. It is OK to collect on private property if the owner gives you permission.

Working with Dinosaur Bones

Q: Where do you get the bones you work with?

As mentioned earlier, dinosaur bones are now protected by the federal government. However, before they became protected, many people used to collect them throughout the Western states. These bones ended up in private collections and rock shops. I have bought all my bones from these rock shops and a few of the private collectors who offer them for sale.

Q: Tell us what you do with the bones. How do they become jewelry?

Most of the work I do is with agatized dinosaur bones. It is typically a very hard material and can be found in a rainbow of beautiful colors. This allows me to shape it into jewelry and art forms and polish it. It is important to know that I do not cut up a whole bone or specimen pieces to make jewelry, although I might polish the face of a broken bone to show off the inner beauty.

For jewelry and art, I use broken chunks and fragments of bone. Because agatized bone is so old (about 150,000,000 years old, corresponding with the Late Jurassic Age), many skeletons have broken into small pieces that are no longer recognizable as bones. However, even these smaller pieces have a very unique internal structure (like the rings inside petrified wood) that identifies them as bone. 

  

Q: What does Agatized Dinosaur Bone mean? (for kids)

We know about dinosaurs today because of their fossilized remains. When dinosaurs died, some of them were buried in lake and stream deposits. Many of these remains were preserved through a process called petrification, where local minerals replace organic and bone material. Ninety-five percent  (95%) of all fossils were replaced with calcium. In a few rare cases, the minerals that make up colorful agates (silica) replaced the bones. This is known as “Agatized Dinosaur Bone”.

Everyone’s Favorite Question

Q: What is the biggest dinosaur bone you’ve ever worked with?

I can tell from the blocks of bone that I work with that some of the individual leg bones would have been  more than a foot and a half in diameter. These would have come from HUGE dinosaurs! The magnificent creatures that once inhabited Utah (one of the only places in the world agatized bone can be found) included Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Camarasaurus, Diplodocus, Stegosaurus, and Torvosaurus (a theropod nearly the size of Tyrannosaurus), to name just a few! 

Wisdom for Dinosaur Fans

Q: Thank you so much for your time today! Do you have any suggestions for boys or girls who are interested in learning more about dinosaurs?

I am pleased that so many young people are interested in dinosaurs. There are new discoveries being presented almost daily. Going online and doing simple searches will reveal these wondrous discoveries. There are some paleontologists who are trying to set up sites where you can come and legally dig for bones by yourself. There are a few people who have private property where bones can be found and will allow you to collect on their property. There are also opportunities to work with the experts and assist with digging up dinosaurs. If you like dinosaurs, there are many ways to get up close and personal if you look for them! Enjoy!!!

It’s Not the End

You can find out more about Ken at The Stone Carver, where he showcases his beautiful art that is the result of more than 40 years of working with dinosaur bones and refining his techniques for  producing exquisitely crafted jewelry and more from agatized dinosaur bones. His creations allow you to hold the “Legacy of the Dinosaur” in the palm of your hand.

If you would like to hold one of these dinosaur fossils in your hand, now you can! We’ve included 1 large fossil in our helpful Dinosaur Discovery Toolbox, ready for your children’s fun and imagination about dinosaur bones.