Diamond Tooth Taxidermy

Exquisite Taxidermy Art and Design

© 2013 Diamond Tooth Taxidermy
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About Beth Beverly


I am a State and Federally licensed taxidermist who graduated from the Pocono Institute of Taxidermy in 2010 with high marks. I have a deep respect for this craft and those who strive to preserve it.

It is my pleasure to work on any trophy mount, be it a shoulder, life-size, rug, or fish.

I accept custom orders for fantasy mounts, wearables, and bridal hair pieces.

Sculptural mounts and hats are available for rental provided they are in stock at time of inquiry.

Contact me describing your wish and I will be delighted to make it so.


Diamond Tooth Taxidermy Blog:



Vampyra the Winged Domestic Feline


Meet Vampyra.  She is the beloved feline of a local Philadelphian and has been posthumously winged as per his request.  I think it was a brilliant idea.  She has a very gothy feel.


In life, she seemed to wear a mildly surprised or curious facial expression so I did my best to recreate that.  I wish I had spent more time on her pillow seat, though.  It could use some tassels, for sure, and also tends to want to lean a little bit.


I used wings from a chicken; at first I wanted to use a black rooster but after noticing all the subtle browns and reds in her coat, a pitch black pair of wings would have looked very flat so I opted for a bit more texture, color wise.



Many measurements and carcass casting to make a custom form.






A progress shot of her ears drying.  Despite the carding the ears still gave me some grief.


 Here she is, eternally poised for preflight.




It was an honor, Vampyra.  Charmed, indeed.

Bilal

 This is the skull of Bilal the cat, a beloved member of my dear friends' family.  When he passed, they gave him to me to make something with.  I brain tanned his hide and transformed him into a luxurious fur stole, of which I sadly have no photos.
 W & R were instrumental in my early development as a taxidermy artist; I couldn't have made it without their guidance and generosity.  I was reflecting on this last week when I decided to unearth Bilal's head from my freezer, clean it off and gift them with the skull.
 I've been getting into bone cleaning lately, all these heads are in my freezer that I figured I'd do something with someday.  Now I'm really getting into it.  I don't use beetles, as bone cleaning isn't even a significant part of the services I offer (yet) but I'm thoroughly enjoying the catharsis of scraping brains out, yanking cartilage with my bare hands, pulling, plucking and prying all the messy gunk off the bones.  Perhaps it's a metaphor for some deep self exploration I've been engaging in...
 Bilal had some pretty impressive teeth, although he was missing a bottom fang.
 I articulated the mandible to the skull and drilled a hole for his name tag to dangle from.
Another day in Paradise.

Tell Frankie I Said Hi: Secret 1st episode!

My amazing friend Carmen was gracious enough to let me interview her about being preggers for my first ever podcast, and she bore with me thorugh the bumps and whatnot.  After I get a little better at this podcasting process I'll get this operation up on itunes but for now I'm using soundcloud and this first one is on Podbean.  It's neat to hear Carm's pregant past self from a few weeks ago now that she's a new mom.   Give a listen, won't you?
CLICK HERE FOR EPISODE 1 OF TELL FRANKIE I SAID HI



Self Portrait, the Wordy Version

If you've been following the show Immortalized, you most likely saw this coyote on last week's episode titled "Self Portrait":
Here are some photos I shot of Ruby the Coyote in my studio before shipping her out, back in October (Super storm Sandy to be exact- I remember because I rode my bike to Kensington that day with a pile of bubble wrap balanced on my handle bars, making every effort not to sail off into the sky)

Also, due to the time constraints of television, much of my verbal presentation to the judges explaining my interpretation of the theme wound up on the cutting room floor so to speak.  I am quite fond of this piece and felt strongly about my presentation so why not share it with you now?  Also, I incorporated some new techniques (new to me) into this mount and thought the nuts and bolts might interest you.
I wanted a coyote that looked fierce.  Menacing and vicious, lunging at any perceived threat.  Angry, hungry and tough as nails.  This is how I often feel, as an artist trying to follow her heart and blaze my own trail in a world where nobody gave me an instruction manual, and acceptance (from family, self and others) has been hard to come by.
Often times, following one's own dreams and making art a full time job presents a life riddled with frustration, poverty and hardship.  My nails are torn and atrocious from hands that take a tremendous amount of abuse.  Manicure?  Maybe when I'm dead and lying in my coffin* my hands will be still enough to warrant one.   My back is a tightly woven tapestry of knots from the internalized stress of hustling for ways to pay this or that and still maintain a fairly decent life.  I've made a shitload of sacrifices to pursue my art and sometimes I'm jealous when a car full of warm, dry folks cruises by me as I huff down Delaware ave on my bicycle in the bitter cold.  That said though, this is the life I chose and the physical, temporary challenges are beyond worth it to feel the way I do when I wake up in the morning and know I am free to be exactly who I am.

Along with feeling snarly and fierce, I think I project this image as well.  I can be intimidating to strangers who only see bleached hair, combat boots and torn clothes on the chick blowing snot-rockets onto cars parked in the bike lane.  Just like the ridge hair that stands up on this coyote's back because she's threatened and needs to appear larger than she is, a good portion of my bravado is making sure nobody mistakes me for a doormat.  


Here's a look at what I started with for this mount: I used a commercial coyote manikin and began with cutting it in half  to hollow out the chest cavity where the kitten would sit.  Once this was done, the two halves had to be rejoined.  I used a strong adhesive and reinforced the seam with wooden skewers.

 

I lined the inside with a hardening epoxy that would create a uniform and solid surface upon which I could lay lights and rhinestones.


Now the form was ready to be wired for electricity.  My friends over at Scenery First helped me out here- we wired up the proper length of cord to an LED light track, soldered it together and ran it down the along the inner thigh of the form.  It terminated in a jack that would be plugged into the other half of the cord upon installation, which was nestled into the steel base (also created by Scenery First)





I aimed the lights inward in order to illuminate the crystals and fill the chest with light.

 



                                                                         Tada!




Which brings me to the kitten element of this self portrait.  Being autonomous and pursuing my dreams without any higher power to really tell me how can be scary.  Being a woman in a typically male dominated trade has left me feeling tiny and alone at times, not unlike this kitten who is the poster child for vulnerability.  This particular specimen was a barn kitten, brother to Cookie Salad, another barn kitten who is thriving and well up at my darlings' farm in Cobelskill NY. Like most kittens, he was adorable and craved touch, connection.  This I can relate to.  I believe many of us can.  We long for human connection but it can be such a tightrope walk as we attempt to avoid getting hurt.  Most of the shitty behaviour in the world can be attributed to our fear of being hurt by someone else, I think.

I've embellish med my presentation a bit here but that's the gist of what I stood and said in front of the judges on the show.  Another part that didn't make it to air but I find quite fascinating is how I resolved the issue of not having a form to use for the kitten hide.  What I wound up doing was my first carcass cast, which I now swear by as far as making custom forms.
First I made a negative mold by pouring a latex solution into my container.  The kitten carcass was inside, frozen into the desired position.



The tricky part was time.  The solution needed at least 6 hours to set, and this carcass would start thawing as soon as I took it out of the freezer.  I could only hope that it wouldn't slump out of position as the hours passed.  
The moment of truth:
  


Perfection!  It reminds me of Hans Solo trapped in whatever that stuff was.

 
Here's the negative mold. The carcass has been removed and the next step is taping the mold back together inside the container and pouring expanding foam inside to make the positive mold.



Classic first timer's blunder- I used way too much foam!

It took over an hour to chip and chisel away into the mold and dig out this little gem.  Completely worth it though!   Look at the detail on his little ribs!


After altering the form a little bit, and prepping it, I taxied the skin on.  
In case you were wondering, yes, from time to time I cry while I work- especially when the subject it little baby animals.

 
Meanwhile, I was lining the inside of the coyote chest with Swarovski crystals.  This took fifteen hours at least.

 


One of the last steps was fitting the stand with custom cut mirrored acrylic.  This was to convey the surprise underneath the coyote while keeping everything at the  correct eye level.  As the viewer approaches, they see the coyote with all the chandelier beads, mimicking intestines,  dripping down and a burst of light form her chest.  The beads draw the eye down to the mirror which reflects the kitten above.  This entices the viewer to then approach and look directly underneath. 




Hi!




                                                                     C'est tout!






*That scenario will never occur because I intend to be cremated.









































The Year of the Cat









 



Well, it almost took a year. It was a hot Summer day, I believe, when S, my client (not sure if she's want her name used here so I'll just stick to a one letter initial) called me and requested I pick up her recently departed best feline friend.   Someday when I have more articulate thoughts running through my mind I'll delve into all the emotional trappings of pet taxidermy, but for now I'll keep it brief.  It's awkward and sad, picking up the deceased member of a family.  I feel clumsy and don't know what to do with my hands.  I feel guilty if I find something funny.  It's a kind of turmoil, and the only thing that helps me through it is admitting that I feel awkward and weird and moving on from there.  I feel like I'm connecting with people whom I've barely known on a level so deep and raw that it's like hitting a nerve out of nowhere.



But I do know S.  I've been getting to know her. She's a delightfully sensitive and wonderful being, with what I suspect is a morbid sense of humor but I haven't seen it quite yet.



Anyway, meet her cat:







Poor baby was sick for a while and had received some kind of shot or treatment, hence the shaved arms.  Aside from that she was a beautiful specimen.  It took me forever to get the form down; it was basically hand sculpted over the entire period of time.  I refrained from too much embellishment as I knew S might want to add her own personal touches.  For no particular reason I incorporated a crystal ball for her to lean on, as though she were showing S the future from the other side.







 



I want to hear purring when I look at this photo.  Lets not ever forget how magical cats are.







I figured a pillow would be a suitable base, as she is a regal creature.  And I guess that's it.  I'm tired and need to be on a plane in a few hours.  More on this shortly, when I have my wits about me.



Fashion Night Out Quickie

While I wait for the all-clear form a client to post about a recent project, I will toss these out there for anyone interested. Behold the lovely Meredith, who attended a flurry of NY's Fashion Night Out events  donning two of my creations.  Below is the purple duck wing fascinator:







And another night, another event brings you Meredith in a yamamoto jacket I will steal from her someday , topped off with a masked hen hat.







 







For now, c'est tout.  I have my hands full with more pieces for the 20 for 20 project (speaking of which, it's driving me batty knowing that two of my pieces have arrived at  Ms. Zoe and Ms. Von D's respective locations and I have no idea how they were received and may never know  UGH the bain of sending unsolicited gifts), creating a fascinator for this Sunday's season closer at the Brandywine Polo Club, two more competitions on the horizon, an Alice in Wonderland themed fascinator commissioned by a client,  pieces for a holiday craft show and today I am skinning a cat.



Yes I am aware that there is more than one way but I'll be happy to master just one for now.



 



 

MINKY





 



This was going to be an add-on to the last post, but Minky deserves a post all of his own.  Please read:



And on a sad note, those of you (hi honey!  mom, dad?) who have read this blog from it's humble beginnings exactly one year ago may remember Minky, my kindred spirit who made my quite lonely stay in teh poconos so much  more enjoyable, if not magical.  During my stay I loved that cat like he was my own and we forged an irreplaceable bond.  Just minutes ago news reached me of Minky's passing.  His two dads loved him dearly and he is buried by the stream just outside the house where I stayed with him.  He loved to go out and sniff at that stream.  Below are a couple photos of dear old Minks and some links to posts pertaining to him.



RIP MINKY!!!



 



Minky:1 Coyote: 0



Minky cave



Taking Minky to the vet



And just because I'm feeling nostalgic, my last day living in the mountains.  Please play the top video.  It's like I'm there again, I want you to be there too.



 



Good bye Mink, tender I will keep, this place you hold in my heart.











 

Squirt.

This morning I was skinning a duck in preparation for a taxidermy demonstration I'll be giving on Saturday.  I plan on having some finished mounts as well as a cured skin to show various stages in the process.  Sounds fine right?  Except it's for children.  Children terrify me.  Last night I was envisioning speaking to them and I cringed at myself as I lay in bed, marveling at what a nerd these kids will think I am.   I was a kid once, and I know first hand they are cruel, and nothing people over the age of thirty do could ever be cool.



Wait, WHY do I care what a bunch of children think of me?  I guess at the end of the day I don't.  Amway, I'm thinking about all this as I skin my duck, and I'm at the head. I'm angling my brain-spoon around the back of the eye sockets to free the eyeball and SQUIRT!  A stream of black eyeball juice lands upon my shirt, my arm, my face, MY EYE.  I have duck eye juice in my human eyeball. This was the first time I popped one, and I never knew how inky the liquid is.  I wonder if it could be used as dye?







After cleaning up that mess I was able to focus on the task at hand, only to find a very broken wing.  Break one, humerus bone:







Break two, radius and ulna:







It's not really that big of a deal when wings are shattered like this but it does pose a challenge when skinning.  It's relatively easy to use the whole arm for leverage when working the skin off, but when the arm is just a pile of mush there isn't much to hold onto.



Thankfully I had my studio mascot there to keep me company while I worked.







Ever since I cleaned my studio and organised it in a fashion which is conducive to how I work, it's been a nonissue having the cats around. Frankie sometimes manages to sniff out any mouse tidbits I have hiding around but aside from that he doesn't care to get into the other animals.  It's very pleasant to have him sleeping at my feet in his little patch of sun while I work.



This is my newly cleaned studio.  It may look cluttered but I have a ton of stuff in a very small space.  Amazingly, everything has a home and I know where it lives.







Work table and mini freezer:







Supply shelving, windows, and Frankie!









"We're gonna jazz it around a bit."

Today I finished my first buck trophy mount; I'm ultimately pleased with my work.   The ears are carded and need a few days to dry, and then I'll detail the face with a little air brushing.







I got home from school to find Mr. M, the house cat, resting up after an emergency trip to the vet.  Apparently some feral cat (or coyote?)  had sunk its teeth into Mr. M's back and the bite had created an abscess which got infected.  I recalled feeling a small lump on his back but by the time Sunday had rolled around the boys told me it had opened and was leaking puss.



Ew.



So the vet had to stitch up the one bite mark and insert a drainage tube in the other.  When I walked in that afternoon, after sewing up deer hide all day, I looked at Mr. M for a moment, admiring the stitches and not mentally registering what had happened to the poor little guy.  "Frankenkitty", the boys called him.  Following over the next few days were the inevitable comments about what happens when one leaves their pet in the care of a taxidermist.







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