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:



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.









































"Want me to mount him with his eyes shut so it looks like how he did when you shot him?"

This is a playful jab I hear often in the studio between Mr. B and his clients, insinuating that they must have gone sneaking up on a buck while it slept.  This is poaching and it's obviously illegal, but the more people I talk to up here, the more I hear about it happening.  It comes to mind now because as I sit here in bed at 9pm, reading, I was just startled by a loud rifle shot just outside the cabin. I jumped out of bed and paced around a bit, feeling jarred.  There's a decent amount of undeveloped acreage surrounding me and I'd be lying if I said the thought of some psycho perv armed to the teeth and lurking around watching me never crossed my mind.  I'm fairly certain though that the shot I just heard was...well, I can't be sure but I'll hazard a guess that the neighbor saw a coyote creeping too close to his house.  Regardless, hearing a shot pierce through such a quiet evening-I mean, the sound conjured a mental image of a train hurtling through the forest-leaves me somewhat unsettled and mill undoubtedly keep me up past my usual 9:30 sleep time.



Today I finished my second buck; I experimented with positioning the ears in an alert, listening fashion as though he were hearing something slightly behind him.  Here he is, with carded ears and stuffy nose.







I'm getting pretty good at the eyes, as far as the lid creases and positioning.







I cleaned up my coyote's mouth a bit; not much interesting going on here but I was amused at how dentist-like this looks.  My mouth started watering just looking at him, imagining the saliva building up in my mouth during a cleaning and just dying to spit.







As the nose skin dries out it tends to shrivel so it gets a little coat of epoxy which will be painted later.







I got home to find Mr. M had invented his own cozy little kitty den.  I'd piled up the duvet on the guest bed while the cover was being laundered....and can you find the cat in this image?







Tada!







Poor little guy is getting as much rest as possible and barely eating.



I spent my evening watching more Honey West.  I discovered the "vintage commercial" feature on the discs and found some of the adverts amusing.



My favorite is the Mennan shaving lotion ad which starts at 2:53 in the video below.  I don't see anything refreshing about the way those paws are manhandling that guy's face.







"This guy's a real duck nut."

The main road to school was still pretty snowed up so I was about thirty minutes late to class this morning.  The other student didn't even make it, so I had a chance to catch up to her in terms of progress.



I began sewing the felt around my stretched skin.  I insisted on pinning it all which Mr. B found quite amusing, and offered some criticism in regards to time consumption.  I'm beginning to get exasperated with this "all commercial all the time" philosophy; I prefer to take as much time as I need with my work so it's perfect.  I would not feel comfortable turning in sub-par work just because it's faster.







Here he is, with the felt skirting.  I named him Bruce, after Honey West's pet Ocelot.







Bruce has a freak double hang-nail (thumb claw) which my teacher claimed to have never seen before.  Pretty neat.







GRRRRR.  Almost finished product.







At the end of the day we gave my squirrel another bath and used some degreasing solution to puff his coat up a bit.  Major improvements.







After school I went sledding and unlike yesterday, the conditions were ideal for some stellar runs.  I came across these coyote tracks on my way up to the hill.







Me, myself, and my board.







Her's me sledding.  I had to listen to music the entire time or the sheer loneliness would've swallowed me whole.  Walking up that hill takes some tunes to get me through it, as well.  It's a pretty big hike.  I was amused at how different each run felt depending on what  piped into my ears.  I had a slow mournful run to "The Wall" soundtrack", and amped up flying session when Andrew WK came on, and a kind of mysterious  and comical ride to the "James Bond" soundtrack:











I am about a week behind on the news so it wasn't until today that I learned about the emergency small aircraft landing on the NJ turnpike.  I was listening to the exchange between the pilot and the air traffic controller and found it charming that they use the term "souls" as in, "How many souls on board"?  It seems kind of contradictory that such a high-tech arena would rely on a term so...non-concrete.  It's charming.

"We call 'em slut bugs."

Today we began working on our coyote rugs, using hides purchased from a distributer already fleshed and tanned.  My fellow student also brought in a huge skin from an Alberta Buck her friend had gifted her, and I helped her flesh it out a little.  I've got a knack for getting my little fingers on a hunk of flesh and ripping it from the skin which is more economical, time-wise, than knifing it out.  My nick-name for the day is "The Ripper."



Here is my head form for the coyote, with artificial jaws set in.  Original skulls are rarely used these days because over time the teeth crack and break.  I think when I'm doing this on my own, however, I will use original skulls, simply because I have a disdain for all things plastic.  Maybe I'll cast metal ones, who knows.







I wanted to challenge myself so I studied some reference pictures and carved a snarling shape into the form.  Creating this expression also involves various sculpting techniques with clay but I'll keep that info to myself.  I'm trying really hard to keep my inner-brat from emerging as my patience grows thin with all this conventional, commercial mounting.  I think when I'm getting paid to do it, I'll have no issue, but I long to be putting jewels on paws, false lashes on eyes, pheasants on stilts, etc.







Pinning the face.  Mine had a scar just inside his eye, and since a typical client wouldn't want to feature that in his prize rug, I learned how to obscure it.  Top secret!!!!







When Mr. B came back from lunch he had a present for me- one of his hens had died over the weekend and when he'd mentioned it to me in passing this morning, of course I asked him what they did with it.  "Well, we usually bury 'em..." ...but surprise!  He brought it in for me!  She's a real looker, too, and she's all mine to mount however I wish.  Stay tuned.



After we finished mounting the head portion of our rugs, the hides were soaked and stretched on a table.  I am not so adept with hammering; I whacked my thumb several times.  What's even more tantrum-inducing than smashing a digit repeatedly with a hammer and staying silent about it so as not to draw attention, is your instructor catching it every time and reminding you  "not hit your thumb with that hammer.  It really smarts."







I noticed several lady bugs on the table; the other student and Mr. B were eager to destroy them.  Apparently there is a huge LB infestation in the area and they are not viewed as the luck-spreading, charming little guys we here in the city know them as.   In fact, they are a different breed.  The LBs up in the Poconos are an Asian beetle which look exactly like Ladybugs, and were brought to the US to aid in pest control.  I guess they then became the pest themselves.  I'm told they reproduce like crazy and clog up vents, eat through stuff, and bite.



Not so cute:











I took the scenic way home, via back roads, and stopped for coffee at a little shop in White Haven.  I'd wanted to stay and enjoy it there while I soaked in the environment, maybe get some networking practice, but it was just myself and the "barista" I doubt he'd call himself that) there and I felt him eyeing my every move so I stepped out.  I hate feeling watched when I haven't made it clear I'm looking to be the center of attention.  I start to second guess my every move and can't think straight.



When I got home, I took a walk around the hilly fields behind the cabin and then took a nap with the dogs in front of the fire while the boys made dinner.  They ate and headed out, and I went to bed.

"I love trees, man. I'm a tree hugger."

Wednesday, 1/13/10:



Today I finished skinning my Merganser, and afterwards came the joy known as degreasing.  It's actually pretty cool; running the fatty skin along the wheel and watching it dissolve and fly away.  It gets tricky negotiating around any holes in the skin-they easily get caught on the wheel and the next thing you know there are feathers flying everywhere.  On the plus side, my hands feel luxuriously moisturized afterwards.







Cleaning up the machine reminds me of what liposuction must look like.



After degreasing comes the bath, comprised of a top-secret solution that only taxidermists are privy to.







The bird comes out of his bath, gets wrung out and tumbled in sawdust for a bit.  This fluffs the feathers back up.  I had to play doctor with mine before I stretched the skin over the mount, because he's broken his leg during his dying fall.  It was a delicate operation.







Now be a good boy and eat your medicine!!!







I am constantly reminded of plastic surgery...







Later on I went home, and did my usual hoop work-out routine.  We noticed that there were coyote tracks about twenty feet from the house and grew nervous about letting the cats out.  You know, after what happened to Daisy.  We even heard them howling later that night!







For dinner Sarah prepared the Venison with a cherry/apple chutney.  It was divine.  We also snacked on some deer and moose keilbasi that my instructor gave me.  It's great with a little mustard and cheese.



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