Iceland Mag

14 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Art & Design

The Icelandic "Lego" is made from fish bones

By Sara McMahon

  • Icelandic Lego. Each kit contains a head of haddock, cod and one jaw of wolf fish. Let your imagination run wild. Photo/Hugdetta

  • The designer. Róshildur Jónsdóttir spent years trying developing the idea.  Photo/Pjetur Sigurðsson

  • Something fishy. The kit is available in numerous design stores in Reykjavík and Keflavík Airport. Photo/Hugdetta

Róshildur Jónsdóttir, a product designer, is the mastermind behind Skepnusköpun, a model kit made from fish bones which has gained much attention for its originality and sustainability.

 

“In my final thesis I discussed how farm animals were made use of, everything and anything that was considered edible from the sheep or cattle was utilized. Other parts, such as bones and sheepskin were used as building material or to make clothes.
“When I graduated from the Academy of Arts in 2006 much of the animal went to waste, including the horns and bones. I began to experiment with bones from different animals and found the shape and form of fish bones to be especially beautiful. At one point I boiled some fish bones, painted them and glued together and that’s when I got the idea,” Róshildur explains. She adds it was never her intention to design and manufacture a complete product – originally the project was to point out and criticise growing consumerism and the excess waste that comes with it.

It was no easy task to obtain the countless permits needed before production could begin. The bone cleaning process also proved to be problematic: It was too time-consuming and much too expensive. So Róshildur began to experiment herself in an attempt to come up with more efficient ways of cleaning the bones.

“There are dozens of bones in a fish’s head and they are very difficult to sterilize. I was awarded a grant and teamed up with the University of Akureyri and a microbiologist to try and come up with a better way to sterilize the bones. We experimented for years and were often close to throwing in the towel but always kept on going. Eventually we figured out a new and ecological method to clean the bones,” she explains.

“I call Skepnusköpun the “Icelandic Lego”. Some of the most memorable and beautiful moments my family and I have shared have been when we were making sculptures from the fish bones."

Each kit consists of bones from haddock, cod and one jawbone of wolf fish. Róshildur maintains that although the bones may seem delicate, they are in fact very strong and do not break easily. And because of their unique shape, they are also great fun to assemble.

“I call Skepnusköpun the “Icelandic Lego”. Some of the most memorable and beautiful moments my family and I have shared have been when we were making sculptures from the fish bones. Children have a very active imagination and some of the sculptures my children have made are simply amazing,” she recalls. “There are few toys on the market today that capture the imagination of a child or challenge them to be creative. My son, for instance, is extremely proud of his fish bone creations and his most cherished toy is a space-shuttle he made himself. But the sculptures also make for lovely ornaments.”

Skepnusköpun is available in Spark Design on Klapparstígur 33, Farmers Market on Hólmaslóð 2, The National Museum, Epal in Keflavík International Airport as well as on Róshildur‘s website hugdetta.is. The kit costs around 6.900 krónur (44 euros).

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