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:



Cat food, in a Snap.

Remember the Snapper I skinned for a project and made a stew with the other week? I had the head and other parts left over so I thought I'd try my hand at making fish stock.  With some gentle guidance from my husband I threw together a pot of stock-making ingredients:



Fish parts, old carrot, old onion, wilted dill and other miscellaneous aging produce all in a pot:







 



After browning it all, I added water:







 



I then let it simmer until about half of the water had evaporated, and then strained it into the crock pot:







 



Next came the chicken legs into the stock which I cooked until the meat just slid off the bones:







 



After the soupy mix had cooled enough, I added a combo of short grain wild rice, sushi rice, and mashed peas, carrots, and sweet potatoes.  Voila!







 



Despite the unattractive gruel-like appearance, it's packed full of all the nutrients and tastes that kitties love, and we're saving a boatload on cat food.  Happy customers include Francis, my studio buddy:







 



Aaaaand Opal, resident diva.  My apologies for the blurry shots; these two gobble so fast it's hard to get a good picture.



Coho Mojo

My frequent sidekick-in-corpse-fun just got back from a two-day fishing jaunt up in NY and brought me back a beautiful 16lb Coho Salmon form the Great Lakes.  We decided that I'd come over for a BBQ and skin it so I could leave the meat with him, while we dined on dove.  I guess it didn't register with me just how large 16 pounds is; when I saw it sitting in his cooler I laughed and wondered how I was going to negotiate my way around such an impressive specimen.  Honestly, fish are not my forte and the ones I have mounted have been on the small side.







I adore this picture for two reasons, the first being that I'm wearing a shirt with a pig's head on it and the word "gluttony" underneath.  There are so many situations when I feel like just having this shirt on makes everything more funny.  Second, my hand.  In school, my teacher would constantly remark and tease me about my veiny bony hands which I secretly relished.  As a child I spent numerous weekends with my grandmother and my favorite part of her was her hands...I used to pray that someday I would get those same features; the thick, calloused skin and rope-like veins winding their way around the surface, over and under bones like tree roots.  I love my hands because they look as strong as they are and they help me to complete such a wide array of tasks.  They look more like my grandmother's with each passing year and it's one of the many little things that makes getting older so rewarding.



The first cut. Fish skin is pretty fun to work with if you can stomach the smell.  It;s touch and basically impossible to accidentally rip or tear, so you can get as rough as you want.







Apparently it was spawning season and this fish was just LINED with roe!  The Salmon  just stop eating in the last weeks of their lives so their stomachs will shrink to make room for the eggs. That is true dedication to procreation.



We saved the eggs, of course.  For caviar cat food.  Did I say cat food?  I meant, never mind, it's classified.  But that's a LOT of eggs.







 



 



 

"Hard to be humble."

Today we finished airbrushing our fish, and it was probably the most challenging day for me.  What's really touching though, is how the instructor and the other student could sense how frustrated I was and made repeated attempts to cheer me up.  The were genuinely upset that I was upset.  I mean, these people really care about me, someone they've only known for four weeks.  I care about them as well; it occurred to em the other day that Mr. B and Ms. R are the only two people I interact with  mondays-thursdays.



Since we're blowing through the curriculum at such an accelerated pace, we decided to mount an extra water-fowl.  I used one of the Buffleheads gifted to me from a fellow taxidermist; a hen.  She was riddled with beebees, and I have to perform surgery on her broken leg and wing:











Delicately fusing bones beats airbrushing fish any day, if you ask me.



When I got home that afternoon I took a stroll back into the woods to see if the deer carcass was still there.  Nope.  Completely gone.  I decided to venture farther back though, and here's what I saw:







For my husband:







Although there wasn't a beaver in sight; clearly they've been active back here.







Behind the house is a hill that opens up into a large  expanse of land.







The view is glorious.







Farther up, there are more woods.  I walked down the trail a bit, but it started to get dark and the leaves were slippery so I headed back.











I went back to the cabin, took a bath and read "Good in Bed" (which I really didn't want to like but wound up loving.  Any female who has struggled with body image issues should read this book.) with a glass of wine.

"A pice of ass that'll make you cry."

More airbrushing today.



Groan.  Here I am, working my magic:







Side note- living a basically solitary life has rendered my wardrobe choices unchecked.  I wear whatever I want every day without considering who will see me, and I really feel that I'm tapping into my inner free fashion spirit that died a bit when I was a kid and realised people say things that make you want keep your true colors tucked away.  I'm having a wardrobe revolution!



Here is my Blue Gill, all finished.  Not terrible, but I was getting super frustrated with my airbrush and made several mistakes.  I really don't like airbrushing.







I do like fish teeth though.







Finished Perch.  This one turned out better than the rest.







And here is my finished Rainbow Trout:







There's some amusing graffiti about a mile from the cabin.  Oh, kids.  I wonder what they do out here?  Smoke weed and spray paint abandoned buildings I guess.







I'd like to think that if I ever had children, I would raise them out in the country...but judging from the ever-present meth problem out here, and lack of teen-oriented activities, I wonder if it's really any better than the city.  I take that back, actually.  I'll bet there are teen-oriented activities but I just don't know any teens.







I went home and worked out, then reconnected with an old friend on the phone.   Movie du jour was "Whatever Works" which was surprisingly delightful, and I have to admit that Evan Rachel Skank is actually great in it.  So good in fact, that I forgot it was her.

"You ain't never used a chainsaw before? Country virgin!"

Today we began airbrushing our fish.  I quickly realised that this is NOT my forte.  I actually prefer the way the fish look dried and pre-painted, no eyes.  Just shells of themselves.  Here's my Blue Gill:







Same fish, now with eyes and some coloring:







Her's my Perch, dried and pre-paint:







All fish have anal vents.  For a competition mount, omitting that feature would probably ruin any chances of placing.  Poop shoots are recreacted with sculpting epoxy.







Here is one of my Trouts with his artificial head and eyes:







Here is another Trout with original head and epoxy coating:







This Trout had a gimp fin; it was just a little nub.  Apparently this is a common defect in fish raised in hatcheries who are then released into lakes.  The hatcheries are cramped and they don't have room to properly mature.  Sometimes I think living in a city does that to people.



I replaced the offending part with a spare fin from another fish.







It was a bitter cold day, and windy to boot.  I took the scenic route home in an attempt to familiarize myself with the area.  I found a post office and a really intriguing property near the cabin where I'm staying called "tequila-ville".  I intend to walk by later and get a closer look, as well as photos.

"You're in like flynn."

Moooooooore fish.



Here is me carving a form for my Perch:







And here is my headless Trout:







Some taxidermists prefer to use artificial heads for fish like Trout and Salmon because the heads shrink significantly during the drying time.  There is also oil stored in the head cavity which must be removed, and then covered up aith sculpted epoxy.  It's more work, more time, and in commercial taxidermy not economical to fuss over something that can just be tossed out and replaced.







Sewing up my Perch:







I enjoy skinning fish as well as carving the forms.  Honestly though, I'm not excited by  fish wall mounts.  It does nothing for me.  Given my druthers, I'd be making a mermaid instead.



I drove home straight from school for an aerial gig that fell through.   Long story short, I'm learning that red tape, and how I choose to maneuver my way through it, will be a major theme in my life for the next year or so.



Here's me playing God with static in my room.







Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwn.

"Here's some fish eye for your coffee."

My instructor finds my never-ending stream of inquiries amusing.  Can you blame me?  I'm trying to squeeze out every ounce of knowledge I possibly can from this scholastic adventure.



Today I worked on my two Blue Gills, and began a large trout on which I will be using an artificial head.



Carving such small forms in the foam is delicate work.  Thankfully my little hands are extraordinarily nimble.







After the skin is cleaned of all flesh, it's good to soak it for a bit.







All sewn up and carded!







blub blub blub.







After school I went into the barn and played on my hoop:











then took a walk back into the woods to see if  the deer corpse I'd dragged out there had been enjoyed.  By the looks of it, yes.  SOrry for the low quality picture; the sun had set and light was fading.







I had a quiet evening consisting of a long bath, laundry, and the movie "Infamous", at which I wept during the end.  I think being immersed in death has made me even more sympathetic to the rest of the world.  As long as they keep their distance.

"You're about to get real stinky."

Today we began the fish course.  The other student was absent so I got a head start, which wound up being a good thing since she works about twice as fast as I do.  I learned how to measure the fish properly and carve a form for it out of a simple block of blue foam.  I used a trout (a Brook trout I think, but I could be wrong; they all start to look the same to me).  Then I skinned it and cleaned out all the flesh, which was rather odorous.



Next came stretching the skin over the form and sewing it shut.  Fins were carded to set in place and the specimen put aside out to dry for three days.







I can honestly say the stench didn't bother me that much.  After a few minutes you just get used to it.  And yes, I was drinking coffee the entire time, grabbing for my white mug with my gut covered hand and thinking nothing of it.  I was perplexed that no one had wanted to eat these fish, but Mr. B informed me that one of the students from a year ago had caught so many that they did in fact eat them, about 5o of them and  the rest were frozen.  I guess after a certain amount of time they're rendered inedible due to freezer burn.  Am I crazy for looking at the guts in my hands and being tempted to shove the in my mouth?  Especially the cheek meat!  I remember visiting friends in Basque, when my husband and I went to Saint Sebastian and tried the eat of a fish's cheek on bread.  It was unpararelled oral delight.   I am eager to buy an entire fish back home and get some of that for myself, as well as a beautiful mount.



I mounted another trout, this one I added some motion to the form to make the fish seem to be swimming:







Next I carved a form for a Blue Gill.







They're much smaller than Trout and have very large scales which made skinning a challenge.







I opened up to my instructor a bit about what my intentions with taxidermy are, and he showed me some old books featuring "novelty taxidermy" which has been around for longer than I'd imagined.  Perhaps I was a Victorian in a past life!







That afternoon I practiced my hoop and then sat in the side room by the wood burning stove with the guys and worked on a cross word puzzle.  I had to shower the fish smell off before I could eat dinner (I have limits!) and enjoyed chicken with steamed brocoli and risotto for dinner, with cranberry cosmos.



Between the deer and moose meat given to me by my instructor and the royal treatment I receive from my hosts, I am officially being spoiled rotten.

"never trust a man who wears a belt and suspenders at the same time"

Today we learned how to properly airbrush a fish to restore its natural coloring for posterity's sake.  It's really a shame that the colors fade in the scales, because no matter how talented the artist-nothing quite compares to nature.  I'm already scheming Trout skin wallets and rabbit mermaids in my not too distant future...



Here is the Trout, with color foundation added.  To show you the rest would give too much away, so there.







The demo took a big chunk of the morning and in the afternoon we added finishing touches on our pheasants, which we were then allowed to take home with us.  I will take professional shots shortly and post them here, as well as on my website.  I am still trying to come up with a name for my business once I get home and set up shop.  Something that appeals to a mass audience but lets my whimsical and humorous side leak through just a tad...



We got out of class a little early so I decided to work on my extracurricular activity-skinning a deer all by myself.



Here she is, laid out in her entirety.  A donation to me from a professional,  although she exhibits no real external wounds (aside from some blood around the mouth and ears), I soon discovered the internal was a completely new can of worms.







There was significant bruising and bleeding around the ribs and guts, the one leg bone was completely shattered from the second joint to the shoulder, and the skull was crushed as well.  Poor thing.  I know this picture is unsettling and graphic, but I also admire the pretty colors leaking out around the skin and flesh.







I wanted to use the legs on their own for either a wall-mounted thermometer or even a hat, who knows.  I tried sawing them off but the blade wouldn't cut through the bone.  Thankfully there were some bolt cutters in the shed next door and they snapped right through like  buttah. I couldn't help but cringe with each crackling cut as I imagined my own limbs being cut off in such a fashion.  This empathy I feel towards my specimen seems to be a constant thread running through my mind these days.  I feel sorry and thankful at once for these creatures, who have died by gun, gas or vehicle and wound up in my hands.  I am incessantly imagining every cut, tear and twist as though it were my own body lying there on the table.  I think of how surgeons open us up and swap parts on the regular, as though we as humans are nothing more than living rag dolls.



Does this make me sick?  I prefer to call it thoughtful.







Skinning out the head took a while; the hide didn't seem to want to stretch over the neck base of the skull so I had to make an extra cut and finesse it a bit.  Here are a couple shots of the nose and lips, pre-splitting.







I went inside to clean out the legs and was promptly informed  by Sarah that I absolutely STUNK.  So I showered, and came down to a lovely chicken dinner and martinis.  Sarah also built her first fire, which is somewhat of a triumph considering the trauma she's been recovering form since a fire claimed her home almost ten years ago.







After dinner we each had another cocktail and watched "Bringing down the House" to which I couldn't decide to be offended (more for the plot/script/fight scenes than the racial content) or amused.  We followed with some dessert cocktails and some Dr. Fart:



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