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:



DIRTY BIRDS









I searched for a song about "dirty birds" prior to writing this and I discovered that there is not only a song by that name, but a dance to go with it!  OH, Atlanta, you slay me.  I got a kick out of the video; there are some hilarious background folk featured throughout.



Anyway, the video and that brief preamble are to serve as a slight buffer between you and the visual content of this post, as it's a little dirty.  I figured I've got enough street cred as a taxidermist to have earned your trust, so I feel OK writing about the less glamorous aspects of this craft that make so many people queasy.  If you cannot stand the site of flesh or bone, then please abort now.  But if you're feeling brave, take my hand baby birds, I'll feed your head for a minute.



I had two hunters drop off birds last week.  One was what I  initially identified as a female Bufflehead but upon closer inspection actually turned out to be a female Blue Wing Teal.  The other bird was a white pheasant.



Two gorgeous specimen, although you wouldn't know that from the insides of them.



Let's start with the duck.  Ducks are notoriously fatty.  There is an odor to them that tends to hang on for a few weeks even after they're tanned, dried and mounted.  I have no qualms with the odor, but the fattyness can get quite tiresome.  You see, I don't yet possess a fleshing wheel, so I have to cut all the fat off by hand.  Being someone who actually finds solace in mundane repetitive tasks, I usually don't mind this but I've been pushing my poor paws to the limit lately and there is a soreness creeping in that only people who work with their hands could begin to understand.



Whining aside, I do like trimming fat.  I marvel at it.  I mean, this is what flavor comes from.  But my first instinct is to recoil in disgust if it gets all over my hands or my face.  Why is it gross to touch this substance that is so completely universal-I have it, you have it, all your dogs and cats have it, trust me they do- and it's the common denominator of all things delicious?  This fat is the real deal.  It's not oleo or some bogus hydro corn science project, its bona fide, warmth providing, lifesaving fat. I am getting better at embracing the stuff however; it doesn't hurt that after handling it I've got smooth Palmolive hands for hours, even after scrubbing with soap!



[caption id="attachment_1467" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="Official degreasing diagram"][/caption]



As you can see from my very official chart above, duck skin is tricky. It's simple to see where trimming needs to be done, but the actual skin is like a thin film of tissue paper underneath all that fat.  It's extremely easy to cut too far and make "duck doilies".  Needless to say, I'll have quite a bit of sewing to do on this skin before I mount it.



The spoils of duck lipo:



[caption id="attachment_1468" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="Foster THIS"][/caption]



After that, its into the tanning solution and a quick rinse.  Whenever I pull birds out of the water, I'm just a tad dubious that I'll be able to turn such a sad looking rag into something as beautiful as its original form, but it always works out.







Onto the pheasant.  As is often the case with game foul, this guy was just riddled with bird shot. Both legs were all but shattered.



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Lots of holes:



[caption id="attachment_1473" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="B, B, B, B, BULLET HOLES!"][/caption]



It's not just a matter of holes but picking the shot out of the flesh, since I feed these birds to my animals and I don't want my little babies choking on lead.  The feathers kind of clump together around the shot, some still with quills in the skin, some buried in the meat.  It's not unlike pulling weeds:



[caption id="attachment_1474" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="one..."][/caption]



[caption id="attachment_1475" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="two..."][/caption]



[caption id="attachment_1476" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="three..."][/caption]



[caption id="attachment_1477" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="four..."][/caption]



[caption id="attachment_1479" align="alignnone" width="600" caption="and PULL!"][/caption]



Here's one leg.  The bone was totally broken, which can be hazardous for little taxidermist fingers working flesh off of them.  I have the scrapes to prove it.  The other leg was completely obliterated.  This means more work down the line when it comes time to mount, but this all comes with the territory.







Post bath, also looking like a wet rag, albeit one covered in beautiful feathers.







Like I said, I use this meat to feed my cats.  If a hunter just wants a trophy mount and doesn't care to eat what he catches, I will gladly play vulture and use whatever meat I can for my four-legged brood at home.  Obviously this applies to game and not roadkill.  In this case, I cut off what I could and placed it all in the crock pot with some chicken stock.  A few hours in there and presto!  Warm cozy Sunday dinner was served to my little ones:







And that's the word, Bird.

Duck Doilies

I've been working on two male Bufflehead ducks the last few days, and shoot are they full of fat.  They're also gorgeous.  Sorry I don't have any pictures of the exterior at this point but they're tanning right now; I'll post images later.  Besides, all the pretty iridescent feathers are covered in fat and blood.  Gender role reversal is a constant thought running through my head while I work on birds; the males are always so pretty and flashy in order to attract the females while the "fairer sex" is usually drab and brown in order to blend in and protect her young.  In humans it seems to be quite the opposite although I suppose with there is a flashy breed of male out there...but for the most part its us gals doing the primping.  I also find worth noting that the male ducks seem to have much more fat on them than the females, at least the ones I've worked with so far.  The two female Buffleheads I worked on took considerably less time to degrease than the males I just finished up with.







I don't have a degreasing machine yet so I've been doing the dirty work by hand.  It's a slow, tedious task but one I enjoy.  As someone who relishes the satisfaction of successfully extracting gunk from clogged pores, the site of a fat-covered pelt waiting to be trimmed excites me.  It's an easy solution; no thinking involved really.  It does take concentration though, since just underneath all that fat is tissue-paper-like skin.







It's common to wind up with little holes in your skins when degreasing by hand, hence the term "duck doilies".  I don't mind so much; it's just more sewing work down the road.



Here's a visual on how fatty these boys are.  The left circle is pre, the right one, post.  It gets tricky cutting just the right amount off without going through the skin.







This is all the fat blobs I got off the last one.  See all the oil in the paper?  I feel like I should be cooking with this stuff.







More holes...







More lipo....







More holes..







Here's the second female I mounted last week.  I'm using her for a hat that I plan to enter into a fancy hat parade of sorts, an event which is part of the Devon Horse Show.  I want to make several head pieces and convince some of my girlfriends to wear them around the fair while handing out cards for me.  This hat is obviously far from finished but I'm very pleased with the positioning.  I think it will most certainly turn some heads.







Stay tuned!



"Counting the days 'til archery season."

Today I got to skin a roadkill Coon for extra credit.  I'm starting to think that the grimy skinning is my favorite part of taxidermy.  I've been looking forward to this all week, getting some guts on my fingers and cutting loose with a surgical steel blade after all that intense modeling clay precision training.



Here's Coony's  busted jaw.  The inside was pretty bad; he bit right through his tongue.







His feet were so soft and fleshy; just like baby feet.







Here are the same feet, inverted.  Raccoons are notoriously fatty; the de-greasing process on their hides is quite time consuming.   The foot on the left has been skinned out, the one on the right still has the paw pads and fat.







I hung him from a meat hook, just like I did with the fox, and here I am at the head part.  I'd just cut the first ear out; it takes a little practice to become intuitive as far as when it's time to cut for the ears and eyes on these small mammals, especially when there is so much fat on the skin; it can obscure the flesh line. Of course I can't help but imagine what my own body would look like skinned, especially after marinating myself in good mountain dairy products and meat for almost two months.







Here he is, skinned down to the nose.  Along with all the fat on the hide, the carcass is positively covered with it.







OK, after this I'm done talking about fat.  But here's what I scraped off  the skin.  I like to bring in the local weeklies from Philly to use at my work station; the massage parlor ads in the back never fail to leave Mr. B fully scandalized.







Today on the radio I heard an old classic by my girl Shania.  For the life of me I can't understand why country music videos are so awful but here's another mind-numbingly stupid one.  It's a shame too because the song is cute and Shania is so boss, y'all.







"I like that Sheryl Crow, man. She can sing. Madonna though, she's a pig."

Tuesday, 1/12/10:



Today we finished our Mallard mounts; I'm pleased with what a nice specimen I was able to work with but not entirely stoked about the mount itself. I found the skinning  a challenge and spent extra time sewing up my holes:







I think the eyes are a little wonky and I realised too late that I secured the tail into place a bit crooked.  Mistakes like this can be remedied by corrective positioning, but I'd prefer not to make the mistake in the first place.  Here is the rear-view; tail feathers are taped in place for drying.







We then began skinning our hooded Mergansers, which I was very much looking forward to.  My heart sunk just a tad though when I made my first cut and saw that this duck was even fattier than the last one!







Speaking of grease, water fowl such as these two species have built-in  glands from which they can extract oil with their beaks to distribute all over their feathers and aid in flotation.  I cut them out of my Merganser and discreetly packed them away in my bag, hoping to discover a use for what surely must be nutrient-rich oil.  It seems like such a waste to me to keep tossing body parts in a garbage can.







Once home, I did a little research and found this product in which one of the main ingredients is duck preening oil.  I've read mixed reviews of the cream online, but I figure using the oil straight from the source with no chemicals can't hurt.  Besides, I've put stranger things on my face.  I'll keep you posted.



For these specimen, the original skull is used which means it remains attached to the head.  It can be tricky to invert without ripping the skin, especially when the head is on the larger side.  Also, it takes some finesse to cut away from the delicate ear/eye area. Here is mine, worked down to the beak.  After this the skull gets cleaned, which just might be my least favorite part.  Sorry, no pictures for that one.







My fellow student gave me some Venison steaks from a deer her husband had bagged.  She can't stand gamey-type meat so it was a relief to get it out of her fridge.  I was quite thankful and promised to give her a full report on the resulting meal.



When I got home I felt unusually tired so I skipped my hoop workout and drew a long hot bath instead while Sarah made dinner (leftover pork chops and salad). 



The tub is enormous and displayed exquisitely, as is everything else in the house.  Just to be silly, I scattered some flower petals over the water before easing in with my People magazine.







And yes, I was so blissed out that I took a moment to document it by taking a picture of my feet.  The tub was almost too big; it was difficult for me to stay upright since I couldn't reach the end.  I eventually just gave into it and sank down until just my nose poked out of the water.  I think I must have zoned out because the next thing I knew if was completely dark.  I got my cozy clothes on and went downstairs, built a fire and ate dinner with Sarah while we watched more "Flight of the Conchords".  Afterward we enjoyed some White Russians while I painted my nails.
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