BILLINGS — Elya Townsend has been painting for as long as she can remember, so when she needed some last-minute wedding decorations, she took her love for western style, combined that with her artistic skill and created something uniquely beautiful.
“I decided that I needed to buy some decorations, and I started looking at price and cost and it was really expensive,” Townsend said in her garage studio. “We had a friend that has cows and said we could get some skulls from his place, so we did that.”
Next thing she knew, the skulls she had painted for her wedding in September 2022 had caught peoples attention. Less than six months later and she now runs a small business for her work on skulls, DedHed Designs.
Working full-time as an occupational therapy assistant, her small business is what Townsend described as a "side-hustle." But it's a side hustle that takes up a lot of time.
“If I have to clean [the skull] and do the whole process myself, that takes anywhere from two to three weeks,” she explained.
That is not taking into account the hours she drives to pick the skulls up from ranches. Townsend said her most popular turquoise design took her 50 hours to complete, but it is worth every minute to her.
“It’s kind of nice to come out here and just turn some music on, and relax and just paint. It is very therapeutic,” she said.