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:



VINTAGE POST: Blackbird Pie (4/6/2010)


I'm not sure why but Black Bird Pie seems fitting for Easter time.  Maybe it's my mind making the connections between Jesus supposedly returning from the dead and emerging from that tomb, with the birds flying out of that pie.  It was the last thing people expected to see, I'm sure.  Some cursory searching online shows that the two have nothing to do with one another but I decided to make the blackbird pie for Easter, regardless.  Here's the poem:



Sing a song of sixpence

AKA blackbirds in a pie
Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,

Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,

Oh wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?

The king was in his counting house counting out his money,

The queen was in the parlour eating bread and honey

The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes,

When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose!




Apparently:

"During the Medieval times, there were occasions when the cook in the house of a wealthy knight did indeed put live birds (often pigeons, but I'm sure it could just as easily have been blackbirds) inside a huge pastry crust, on his own initiative. This was seen as a great joke and the cook would usually have a real pie waiting to bring in when the birds had been released."

So here's my cook, mashing potatoes in with ham and Starling meat, which was then spooned into phyllo dough cups and baked with cheddar cheese on top.  I had two of my girlfriends take over after my competency in the kitchen came under serious question and it was decided that I should simply observe.







While the pies baked, some friends dropped by and joined me in dying eggs.























Later we trickled into the kitchen and tested the pies.  While some of my friends loved them, others refused to try, and my husband and I both voted them as tasting too gamey.  Next time I will marinate the Starling in some sweet wine at least a day in advance, instead of the rush job I did for this occasion, substituting tonic water and agave syrup for the wine I didn't have around.  All is not lost however; the cats practically bit my fingertips off trying to get some of the little morsels so at least the leftovers have a place to go.



This week I'll be skinning out the rest of the black birds and studying them.  I may have an order on deck for one or two, and I intend to use a few others in a hairpiece which I will hopefully finish in time for an event I've got to attend on Friday.

Immortalized

 



I've tweeted it, I've facebooked about it but just to be sure I'm spreading the word I'm blogging about it:



If you read this blog, I'm guessing you're into taxidermy.  Therefore, it would behoove you to check out this television show on AMC slated to premier on February 14.  I am on it.  It was a unique and fabulous experience which I am very excited to see in its final form.  The show is called Immortalized and you can learn more on the AMC website  since I can't figure out how to put the video up on my own blog. But here's a picture:



Immortalized Cast Photos



 



So I hope you can watch it!  I know the other Immortalizers and they're a talented, riotous group.  I'm stoked to see all eight episodes!  So let's all make a date to watch the premier on Valentine's day.  It will bring new meaning to that chocolate heart.



xoxo,



BB



 

Ahoy!

It's been embarrassingly long since I've posted, I feel a little ashamed about that but here is me dipping my toe back into the taxidermy blog waters with a quick little ditty about a pirate bunny for a client of mine who waited over a year for it!



I think the photos speak for themselves; my client had dropped off a rabbit for mounting some time ago but upon skinning the specimen I found  significant bug infestation and had to dispose of it.  I offered to replace the rabbit with one of my own and for no particular reason decided to make him a pirate.







Wooden peg-leg, check.



Eye patch, check.



Pipe, hoop earrings, anchor charm and shark bit ear, CHECK.







Happy client, CHECK.



 



I promise to have more posts up next week; soon enough I will have some very exciting projects to tell you about that will completely make up for my shameful blog negligence!



Taxidermically yours,



Beth Beverly



 

Brandywine Polo Season Opener

This past Monday brought us a dreamy mix of sun and clouds for the Brandywine Polo season opener.  I rounded up the lovely Bell ladies and we set up a picnic under a tree to celebrate birthdays, America and ponies.  It was a fantastic match and got the whole gang excited for the 2012 season.











I wish all anthems were presented so regally:







Have you tried Spodee yet?  What are you waiting for?







I could hardly see anything with these tiny binoculars.







There's my friend Sharilyn bringing water to her polo playing beau, Juan.



Does it seem like I don't have much to say?  That's because I spent all my word-power writing this article for the Brandywine Polo Magazine.  Please give it a read if you like:











And that's really all she wrote.



Good night!

Radnor Hunt Wrap up, 2012









 



The annual Radnor Hunt Cup was this past Saturday, and an exceptional day it was, as one might expect.  This time around I didn't take any pictures since I'm not really on speaking terms with my phone.  I think my new modus operandi is to just be photographed as much as possible and then hunt for those images online. It's fun and I highly recommend it for any fashion conscious gals and guys out there who hate carrying cameras and prefer to leave their hands open for cocktails and shaking other hands.



One tip: Wear the biggest, brightest, loudest thing you can find. This vintage dashiki  I'm wearing is like a brightly burning light,  attracting shutter-bugs to my flame.



 



[caption id="attachment_1634" align="alignnone" width="300"] That's my agent Erika to my left and our body-guard who shall remain nameless a few steps behind. photo compliments of Malvern Patch.[/caption]



 



The theme for the Radnor Hunt was "Islands, Large and Small" so I went with Cuba.  I basically channelled my inner Santeria Priestess and also this woman:







Sure a dashiki is an African garment but there are plenty of Cubans of African descent, and isn't that where it all started anyway?  I hope my loose interpretation of the cultural melting pot isn't offensive to anyone; I just want a piece of it all.



World Clique, y'all.



My hat is a series of rooster wings and tail feathers gathered around a visor with a vintage cat brooch and other embellishments.  A millinery masterpiece by no means, it was a last-minute confection whipped up just for fun and FUN IT WAS. I rolled in four deep with some polo friends, old and new and upon entering the Philadelphia Style tent dove headfirst into the oyster table, forgetting that whole 6 days of food poisoning that ravaged my internal organs just two weeks ago. We had already enjoyed some Spodee (have you had it yet?  Le duh.  Try it!) and now it was onto the race-themed cocktails.  I enjoyed a Finish Line with champagne and berries.



Soon enough I was chatting away with all my pals who I hadn't seen since last Summer and watching the races.  They got off to a rough start, with several riderless horses running the course after having thrown their jockeys,  In another entry I'd like to explore my thoughts on the complicated world of horse racing when I can articulate it better, because it's much more emotional and complex than on might think from first sight, but for now I will focus on the fun stuff.



I bet on a horse named "On the Corner" for the second race but he mostly stayed on the corner and didn't win me any money.  No matter; just being there enjoying my health, my friends, the food and sunshine was all the winning I could have asked for.



My friend Jaun, who plays polo, is also apassionate photographer. He is the best as covering these events, photo-wise.  I ran into him and the lovely Sharilyn, plus their wonderfully engaging daughters, under the tent but didn't have much time to chat- saving it for the  Brandywine Season Opener next week, suppose?  Can't wait.  Anyway, I can't steal any of his pictures to post on here so please go to his site and check them out.  He's got it call covered: Juan Vidal Photography.



Other folks who have the Philadelphia social scene on lockdown are Susan Scovill who is a perennial delight and one of my fave rave folks to run into at these venues; (check her out here: Susan Scovill) plus Hughe from Philly Chit Chat who never remembers my name but gives me love nonetheless.  In fact he threw me some of that on yesterday morning's episode of Good Day, Fox 29's morning news show.  I took the liberty to upload a video of just the segment relating to MOI.  Turn up your volume for the chuckles:



 



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For full video go here:



Was Jenn Fred At The Radnor Hunt?: MyFoxPHILLY.com







We had to wrap it up and head out a wee bit earlier than last year (no rest for the wicked Mole Street crew) but it was just the right amount of fun and revelry.  Oh!  The hat contest.  By the time I mosied up to the judges stand, the women were piling into a gold cart to hand out the prizes to winners whom they'd already determined.  One shot me an exasperated look and I just shrugged.  Another one managed to hand me an "honorable mention" ribbon as a consolation prize.  Familliar scene?  Perhaps, except this time around sans heartache.  I've realised that sometimes it's best not to be judged.



 



 

2012 Biennial Rogue Taxidermy Exhibition: Truly Outrageous

I'm almost done packing my bags and headed off to bed to get some beauty sleep before I hop on a sexy new Virgin America airplane for a direct flight to LA. 



I'm almost as excited for the flight as I am for the purpose of my entire trip, which is this:







I'm over the moon to be showing with some folks I've been admiring from afar for quite some time now.  It's truly an honor to be in their company.  I still have pangs of self-doubt here and there as I prepare for this trip, wondering how my pieces will measure up in person when displayed next to everyone else's.



And yes, I know it's not a competition and I know those aren't pretty feelings but it's me giving you the truth.  I also know that everything I fret about always turns out fine in the end so I'll cross my fingers, kiss my elbow, and enjoy my mini vacation.







Speaking of crossing fingers, you may recognise that gal above from such things as your childhood, saturday mornings, or recent forays into tv nostalgia.  It's Jetta, from the Misfits.  My three submissions in the show are hats of course, all made from chickens sourced at my dear friends' farm.  As the pieces came together and I listened to MIA's "Bad Girls" song on repeat (I cannot stress enough how much of an inspiration this video has been on every single facet of my life) , these identities started rearing their naughty heads.







Jetta is composed of a Brahma Hen mounted atop a vintage pillbox cap.







Sparkly embellishments abound, of course.















I'll bet you remember most clearly Pizzazz, the leader of the Misfits.  Man, what a bitch.







This Polish rooster was just dripping with attitude  (wait until you see the spurs on this cock) and came to be Pizzazz quite naturally.











I see you!











This guy is also perched atop a vintage hat, this one an old mink pillbox.







Last and never least is Roxanne. Did you know she was from Philly?  Of course she was.  And I'll bet she walked around with a razor blade stashed in her mouth, Goretti girl style.







Roxy is a Buff Orpington Hen with a bad-ass beak piercing, nestled firmly into another vintage pillbox hat.  I should mention that the brass sculptural elements are from a remarkable lamp I trash-picked one Sunday morning- a time which I never would have been out and about except for walking what was at the time a brand new puppy.  So thank you, Jonesy, for that.































So that's that. In keeping with my theme I've whipped up a poultry themed ensemble which I will be tweeting and facebooking and blogging all about so stay tuned should you be so inclined.



Along with the show opening, I'm pretty pumped to catch some good comedy in LA (I'm a stand-up hound, did you know that?) and perusing some estate sales.   Or napping in a hammock and eating some stellar sushi.  For now, toodleooooooo!

Admiral Batzaar









Mounted bat, original skull cleaned and in tact, fully decorated from his countless battles in the skies of New Jersey.







He's a hero.







And that's that.

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.



 



 

I came BEARing gifts.

 



Har.



Well, it wasn't technically a gift as it was for a client and she paid for it, but the amount of love and time I poured into this piece could warrant usage of the term "gift".







This  rug was a dream project, as I think rugs are beautiful and functional, as well as a joy to make.  I was instructed to "make a bear skin rug with lots of diamonds and flash".



Ideal Diamond Tooth project, yes?



I found the hide already skinned and tanned from a hunter in Maine who had harvested it with a bow and arrow.  Knowing that this specimen had been sourced ethically and the meat was sustaining a family, I proceeded with confidence.







Diamond tooth, check.  Sparkling eyes, check.  Diamond nose stud, chain from nose to diamond stud earring, check and check.







Oh!  And tongue ring!







Diamond manicured paws, but of course.







After hand stitching the entire lining onto the hide I attached the fringe along with my tag along the bottom.  Finis!







I could hardly BEAR to see it go.  The fur was so soft and warm; I know it will feel just divine on a cold winter night.



Would this piece win any ribbons at a taxidermy competition?  Probably not.  It's not perfect.  But I'm proud of it, I think it's beautiful, and I hope she brings my client many a smile.



Hats Off!

 



This past Sunday brought sheets of rain,  thunderstorms and my lovely friend Pearl to Diamond Tooth Studios for a shoot.  Ms. Bell is more than just a pretty face, she's also a lifestyle and home enthusiast.  She can wave her magic wand over any home, wardrobe, or human and said item will emerge sparkling and wonderful.  Please check out her blog, 7pm.



Together with the talented and professional services of Diamond Tooth on-sote photographer, Jim Coughlin, we had a few flashy packed hours together.  He like to shoot, paint, spray, stencil, and make music.  Please check out all the wonderful things he does on Snap, Bam Splat!



 



I've been busy working with the materials from that load of vintage hats I received a few weeks back, mixing and matching the elements from each piece with other pieces from my studio alongside certain taxidermy ingredients that revealed themselves as an ideal match.  This Gothic Bridal Fascinator started out as a black cage veil with white fabric roses.  I dyed the roses a fade-into black and added two mounted wings from a fancy chicken.







 



 







I kept the original velvet ribbon and added some black fur.







Here is another bridal fascinator; none of these bridal pieces are white  as they are geared towards a less conventional woman who is looking for something unlike what she can find in traditional bridal boutiques. This results in a versatile piece that could be worn by the maid of honor or even the mother of the bride..or for an event that isn't even a wedding!







I used the blue veiling from an antique wide-brimmed blue hat (shown later in its reincarnate form down below) and attached it, with the wings of a fancy chicken, to a wire fascinator base.  The feathers are hand curled to compliment the wearer's hair.







 



This is my Blue Poof Quail Fascinator.  This quail has been worn in several ways, before I found the perfect base for it which is the vintage blue ostrich feather one you see below.  I switched the original blue veil out with an off white, Swiss-dot one from another vintage piece and added a strand of sea pearls around the quail to bring out the creaminess.  I think this piece would be perfect for a Winter wedding....or even Spring!







 



 







Behold the wide-brimmed blue hat I mentioned earlier.  It's a strong, beautiful piece of millinery that stands  on its own without a ton of bells and whistles so I simply added the mounted and embellished cape of a chicken, some pheasant feathers and a few pieces of antique hand-tatted lace, all meant to compliment the shape and motion of this piece.







 



 







Hair Doin'!







Next up is the duck wing fascinator which Pearl has worn before.  I very much enjoy manipulating crinoline/horsehair, and look forward to making more of these.







 



It's light and easy to wear, ideal for the individual who wants to express some fashion sense but isn't willing to compromise her comfort level.







 



Here is another bridal piece, this one crafted with the base of a vintage fasctinator which originally was a simple green bow.  I took the fabric off, rearranged it and added a green cage veil from another antique pice.  Then came the mounted wings of a chicken and vintage charm in center.







The two wings are firmly pressed together in a way that makes the feathers pop out on the opposite side, not unlike what your fingers do when you clasp you hands.







 



Hold on!







OK, perfect.  This is my beloved montera hat, embellished with a mounted chicken head  that has been encrusted with jewels. This hat generates a very healthy dose of attention and makes for an excellent conversation piece. Ole!







It also opens up some fun opportunities for various hair-dos.  I like twisted locks around and under it, but a side pony tail or a combed out fro would also work just as well.







The last piece of the shoot was another fascinator Pearl had worn before, crafted from an antique base with a delicate off white veil.  I added the wings from a chicken which had been source mid-molt, so the spiny veins of the feathers are exposed.  This made them ideal for stringing beautiful beads on; I got these marble and pearl beads from two vintage necklaces.  I also hand curled some of the feathers.







 







 



Not to be outdone, our house model demonstrated his ability to work a chapeau.







 



And that's a wrap!  For more info and pricing, please visit my website, Diamond Tooth Taxidermy, or my Etsy shop.



 



 

I Always Dress for Success

And that's what last Sunday's polo match was all about.  Us spectators were treated to a  beautifully played match (although I spent a good portion of it mingling in the VIP tent tasting amazing food and drinking Magners and champagne I really have to curb my socializing but it's so hard with all the great people to chat with!) and we were cheering for a cause: Dress for Success.  Hit that link and familiarise yourself if you haven't already.  It's ok, I'll wait.



OK, that's hacky.  Sorry.  Anyway, it was action packed, and while Susan Scovill has all the great pictures of the people (including me serving champagne for the halftime divot stomp!), she is unfortunately (for us) on vacation so I cannot borrow her images.  In the meantime, I have a few fun shots of my own as well as some borrowed ones from Amy Dragoo and Milicia Stojancic.



The beautifully captured photos of the horse-action is all Amy.  I think I am her biggest fan.  I truly adore her work.  It doesn't hurt that she's a quickly blossoming chicken master, either.











There was a hat contest advertised, and yours truly was slated to be judge.  The wheels sort of fell off that bus early in the day however, which is unfortunate because there were some pretty hats.  I chose my three favorites, anyway, and below is Cecilia (a rep for Dress for Success, coincidentally, although I didn't know if when I chose her!) who I deemed "Most Classic Hat".







Look at that priceless reaction; clearly it's in response to one of the flawless coast to coast hits during the match.  She can't believe her own eyes!



"Most Creative Hat" would've gone to my new pal Milicia Strojancic.  She crafts these lovely fascinators with botanical themes.







Pretty ladies! That's Milicia's friend Christine with us; she had a sweet little bird on the back of her head but we thought it would be polite to take a picture of her front)







There were some pretty ladies on the field, too:







Duke & Winston set up shop outside the VIP area; Pearl and I had the extreme pleasure of tending to this charming little guy while his human did all the grunt work of setting up the merch:



(I borrowed this picture from their website...again, Susan has all the good pics.  Susan, come home SOON!)  I also picked up a shirt for my mister; the tees are made from a really high quality cotton and I could touch them for hours.  Oh, and there's some pretty cool screen printed images on them too.







The winners!







The only time its acceptable to wear filthy white pants.  Well played, gentlemen.







I had seen another hat which I deemed "Best Vintage" but the wearer disappeared before I had a chance to get a photograph.  It was a beautiful white cloche-type chapeau with a large white multi-pleated ribbon hugging the back of it.  I did manage to catch a shot of this lovely gal, who I made a category up for:  "Best Dressed":







She has a polo match on her dress!  I love it.  She'd also been dancing, as we all had.  Nobody's shoes lasted too long after the music started.



Here's myself and polo pal Pearl.  We got pretty silly, like we always do, and had plenty of laughs.







And then somebody whipped this stuff out and the rest is kind of fuzzy.....







See you next time!!!

Giddyup!

Incase you didn't know, we're in the middle of a ridiculous heat wave, and while I tend to prefer warmer climes, today I've given up on trying to get anything done.  Unfortunately the first thing to go when I overheat is my vocabulary, so I'll make this brief.  Here are some photos from last Sunday's Chasin' for Chalfin fundraising polo match, which was a blast.  The sun became a bit oppressive for us delicate flowers at one point but fortunately some seasoned tailgaters absorbed us into their party.  Behold the pros:







Much better visual coverage can be found on Susan Scovell's site: Susan Scovill on the Mainline.  That's where I found this lovely group shot of Meredith, myself and our hosts.  I made a new hat specifically for the day, and I'm quite pleased with it.  Better pictures to follow.







Voila!  The front of our tailgate, an antique Rolls Royce.  Looks pretty glamorous, no?







Wait until you see the back!



That would be our hosts, pulling the custom-fitted wooden folding table out of the trunk.  Upon it was placed a heaping amount of finger sammies, meats, cheeses, and a dubious mixture in a plastic bottle with the words "polo punch" scribbled on it.  It tasted like citronella, perhaps an acquired taste?  (Give me a break, I'm still learning the ways of the tailgate!)  Regardless, it was a divine picnic.







In the event you were wondering, it's never the wrong time to whip out your Hooters coozy.  Never.







This is what I love about polo.  Everyone is there to have fun, and it's all-inclusive.  Just.  Have.  Fun.



And try not to step in any horse shit during the half time divot stomp! (I did, this time.  I guess I was overdue)







We were treated to a show of this horse-pulled carriage toting around two elegant gentleman and several gorgeous ladies., who dismounted and served us all champagne.  Delovely!











"yes, that's the right shade of yellow.  Perfect, darling, please proceed."







Oh, right, there was an antique car show!  Pretty nifty one here.











Believe it or not, there was an entire polo match that day!  There will be another one this Sunday, with cocktails, an after party and music!  Oh!  And a hat contest to be judged by yours truly.  Won't you come?  I'd love to see you, darling.







Tickets start at ten bucks!  I highly recommend you treat yourself to some VIP action though, check it out.



Click here for tickets: BRANDYWINE POLO CUP



Until then, the caravan of fab has left the building.







See you Sunday!

"We make good trade, John Dunbar"

 







That's what my dear old friend Erin was expressing to me last night when I presented her with her custom piece of fine taxidermic millinery.



Erin is a very talented stylist over at JuJu Salon in Philadelphia and fortunately for me, also one of my best friends.  Several months back we agreed to swap a hair coloring & a couple blowouts ( my ultimate indulgence!  Someday soon I'll be able to afford my weekly vice...) for a Diamond Tooth hat.  I was given instructions not to rush; she wanted me to take my time so her piece would be just right.







I held out just long enough for this green vintage hat to walk into my life which I knew immediately would suit her perfect.  Silly me; I didn't get any before pics but this hat in particular had significant crumple-age; after pressing and blocking it looked like an entirely new piece!  Once the millinery issues were straightened out  I added the squirrel portion.  From there its just a perfect storm of found objects and me being in the zone and loving what I'm doing....and trying not to get too carried away.







 



I brought the hat over to Erin last night and she was pleased as punch!  It fit her like  a dream too, I shall get some pictures of her wearing it shortly. I even got a surprise blow-out!



OK, that;s all the flexing my vocabulary has the energy for.  It's so hot in here and I just can't seem to find any more words. Take it away, Tom Tom Club:







The Patron of Christmas Tree Farms.









I've met Kathy.  She really is the patron of whatever team she's playing for.  Super classy lady.  I wonder if I can be the Tanqueray of taxidermy?



Sure, why not.  One of the players complimented our headwear during the lap; you can hear me thanking him.



 







In case you couldn't tell, yet another Sunday was well spent by yours truly taking in a match at Brandywine Polo Club!  I gathered up two of my favorite gals and tried out two new fascinators on them.



 



Pearl is sporting a piece fashioned from one of the vintage hats recently gifted to me; I used a chicken of the frizzled breed with spiky, featherless feathers.  Perfect for holding jewels!







 



I attached a quail head-piece I've been working on to the "muppet" fascinator from the vintage set.  None of these pieces are finished quite yet; this was a test run on some works in progress.  I'm not entirely happy with this one.







 



Action!







 



This was the first time that I lazed about on my blanket during halftime, opting out of the traditional divot stomping.  My belly was full of black licorice, champagne and happiness.  AS you can CLEARLY see from this photo there was a horse-drawn carriage on the field, complete with a heralding trumpet player announcing its arrival.  That carriage actually seems to show up at every match; I think I need to start rubbing elbows with that lot.







If I could only get up.







 



Here is Maria trying to cut the end off a particularly sharp spiky feather vein that kept poking Pearl in the neck.  I had no intention for the hat to be so dangerous.







Did I mention she's using the serrated-edge mini-blade on a wine opener?  After two bottles of champagne that can be hazardous.



Alas, all ended well.  We stuck around and I talked hats with some of the club members; we nibbled on strawberries and called it a day.



A very, very fine day.



Like a ________ with its head cut off.





Specifically, a pheasant.



I recently came into contact with the striking and fabulous Kiki Hughes, proprietress of Kiki Hughes Boutique in Philadelphia.  Word to the wise: click on that link and check out her store if you're near Philly.  There are some truly, truly gorgeous wardrobe pieces in there (like my ostrich feather skirt!!!) and all the clothing is merchandised in such a clever and unique fashion that you'll kind of get sucked into a time warp and forget how long you've been there ogling at the displays.



Anyway, Ms. Kiki has this lovely pheasant head hat from her personal collection which her cat made into a sacrifice one night by ripping the head clean off.  What killer instincts!



My cat Frankie, a.k.a the Diamond Tooth Studio Mascot, seems to not care less about anything feathered which makes him an ideal work buddy, provided I keep all things mousey out of his reach.  For the most part, he just wants to be near whatever I'm doing.  Example:







Upon closer inspection, this bird was more than just decapitated.  He was straight ripped.







I started by sewing binding tape over the cracks and along the edge of the head which I then reinforced with an adhesive.  This would provide a stronger  bond once the whole thing was sewn back together.







Cotton filling back into the head:







Next was the binding tape along the edge of the bottom half:







Finally it's time to sew the head onto the body.  This is where curved needles come in handy.







After the head was securely reattached, there was still the job of filling in the blank skin spots with feathers.  Fortunately I have an abundance of pheasant plumage on hand and was able to find the right shade/size.shpe to blend in with the originals.



And he's finished!  Top view:







Side view:







Other side view:







So the moral of the story is:  I do repairs.  Please feel free to contact me should an old piece of taxidermy in your collection need some new life breathed into it.

"I've got a stiff black cock in the freezer for you"

That's the text message I received from my dear chicken-master pal a couple of months back when his prized black Dutch Serama rooster died.



It's good to have a sense of humor about these things, and after offering my condolences we set about discussing how he would like his cock mounted. (an interesting sidenote-I am often privately fascinated by different words the same key strokes will produce when texting, such as "good" and "home".  Throughout the process of working on this mount for my friend, we'd often text each0ther back and forth, checking on progress and such.  Every time I try to text the word cock, I get "anal" instead.  The 4th grader in me fins this extremely humourous.)



Here he is, in all his glory:



*



My friend wanted him mounted in a pose which was entirely new territory to me; back arched, tail up and wings relaxed at the side. Oh, and that chest.  I had no idea their chests actually puffed out so far until meeting some roosters at this guy's coop and seeing it for myself.  I was instructed to emulate this image, and take creative liberty when I where I felt inspired to do so.







While working on the positioning I found other reference images and videos to study online, and became completely enamoured with this little bird.  Such a proud looking creature, completely indifferent to its petite stature. I imagined the muscle strength it must take to arch one's back just so to bring the tail feathers all the way up like that, all the while standing with the chest pushed out as far as possible.  I even tried imitating this pose myself, (as I often do in an attempt to understand muscle structure and anatomy with my specimen) and would up contorted into a shape that I'm sure would make any back specialist cringe.



*



When the time came to select an environment for this mount, I went through many options but there was one that  couldn't be ignored, as it had been sitting on a shelf above my desk for months.  The horse hoof!  I've been working on my horse hoof platform shoes for almost a year now, and this first hoof I have sitting around was my crash course, so to speak, on fleshing out the actual foot part.  When I paired it with the little cock, the color, angles and gently implied S&M facor all gelled together so perfectly I couldn't help but squeal a little bit.



I live for moments like this, in my studio when it's just myself and my little creatures, when some treasure or trinket I've been holding onto for years meets its mate.



*



 



 



*photo credit: James Coughlin

My hair looks like a bird's nest?

Why thank you.



Well, more like a chicken coop I suppose.  Regardless, my head is honored to be the vehicle for exhibiting these lovely specimen, donated to yours truly by my local organic chicken/egg connection.



This is a rooster beret I made recently.  I wore it on New Year's Eve.  I've been told that it's customary to eat chicken on December 31st, as they are scratching backwards into the dirt...reflecting on the past, I suppose.



I'd prefer to wear my poultry.



*



Right here is the Serama hen hairpiece I wore for the Carnivorous Nights taxidermy contest last month.  I look forward to trotting her out again.



*



Look at those gorgeous feathers.  Perhaps she'd like to take a ride on someone else's head for a night.



*



Ladies?



*Photo credits: Jim Coughlin

Your Reputation Preceeds You...

I think I'm on the verge of being known as "the woman who wears chickens on her head", which couldn't delight me more.  I certainly seem to be going through a hen-phase, as far as what inspires me.  Or perhaps its the availability of chickens as specimen?  It's hard to tell.  I very much enjoy working with them; the plumage is unique and beautiful, plus the skin resilient and quite easy to manipulate.



So last week I decided to check out the opening of the new Jonathan Adler store in  Old City.  The designer himself was to be in attendance, and I learned that he'd raised chickens with his family as a boy so I wanted to wear a new head-piece in his honor.



I dried and fluffed a gorgeous rooster and toyed around a bit in my studio, waiting for ideas.  I took the legs and head and used them for a different piece, then played with the rest.  It was freezing inside and just to see how it felt, I put the entire pelt on my head.



Warmth!  Unbelievable warmth!  Well, duh, I thought.  We don't fill our coats and duvets with down for nothing.  Seriously though, I was impressed at how much heat was retained atop my head.  So...why not?  I would wear the whole thing as though it were a feather wig.  The result was dramatic and over-the-top.  Here's one shot I got from my computer before leaving for the event:



 







 



And here's another taken of me while there.  The shop looked fabulous although I had to go back yesterday to really check out the merchandise, since it was packed to the gills that night.







As you can see, it's just a little silly but totally glamorous.  If nothing else, it's absolutely a conversation piece.

Brooklyn Bound

I've been getting all my ducks in a row (that would be a great pun I guess, if I were using ducks this time around) for my trip to Brooklyn next week where I'll be participating in the annual Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy contest.  I'll be a first timer, but not a forgettable one.



 



I'm entering two pieces, the one below has been shown most recently at Vincent Michael Gallery but I've reconfigured some crucial elements to take her to the next level.  Obviously none of these photos will be of the entire creature; full shots to come next week after my hopefully triumphant return.







 



This second entry is my best work to date.  I'm quite pleased with how she turned out  and look forward to showing the final results.  Two hints:



Iridescence,







And sparkles!







 



 



Of course no event would be complete without a new headpiece so I've got one of those in the works as well:







 



 



See you next week!

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.



Hen Party

My local egg connection had the misfortune of losing one of his hens prematurely and he wasted no time letting me know.  One man's trash, as they say...



She was a fancy chicken, curly feathers and all and on the small side so I wonder if maybe she'd had some sort of defect from the start which limited her time with us.



The skin was thin but tough (like a wet swimsuit) and dreamy to work with.  I basically just pulled it off with my bare hands in no time at all; no delicate surgeon cuts necessary. Just another reason I love working with chickens.



 



Almost finished.  I love the messy and curly feathers; the whole thing reminds me of a Jim Henson puppet.







Look at that poof!  I have been dreaming of working with one of these ever since I met them and I am quite pleased with how she turned out so far.







Her feet are drying around balls of clay because I have something very special in mind...



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.







 



 



 

You stuff pets?





Yesterday I was a guest of the Holmesburg Fish and Game club for their annual outing day.  There was a flea market, a raffle, shooting demos, games, and me, the taxidermist.  It was a bleak rainy morning and the crowd wasn't much of a crowd, however.  I felt daunted at first, as I get pretty shy and self-conscious when I'm not in my environment.  I could hear grumblings from some of the vendors about moving their tables inside and to the correct rooms and the mood just felt...surly.  As I was setting up my table an older guy brushed past me and said, "Looks like we got the apprentice here again"...and I, being a typical American girl socialized to always smile and be friendly and never question other people, just gave him and goofy grin and giggled.  And then I spent the next thirty seconds cursing him in my head, wondering what he meant by that remark and kicking myself for being friendly. Was he saying that based on the quality of my work?  Could he see through me?  I've always dealt with the fear that really I'm just a phony and someday the curtain will come up and everyone will see me for what I truly am.  About a year ago I had a great talk with a dear friend; he's older, far more accomplished  and has racked up a significant amount of life experiences.  I expressed this fear to him and he simply said, "Beth, we're ALL phonies.  We just keep plugging along until it works.  No one should ever be judged for being at the stage of growth which they're at. "  I have held his words close to my heart and they do me well at times like this when I feel intimidated.



My husband Jim thought the guy said that just because I was young (I may be in my thirties but the median age of this group was about 60) and a girl.  I think being a female in this industry cuts both ways.  I like that simply being a member of the fairer sex seems to immediately bring the guard down of just about any thick-skinned, ornery old man and I'd be lying if I claimed to never have batted my eyelashes to get on some guy's good side.  However, I feel like I have to prove myself, as cliché as that sounds.  I wouldn't trade it for the world though.  I love being a girl.







I didn't dress like a mountain woman on purpose, but it certainly helped me fit in with my surroundings.



Did I mention it was the 80th anniversary of the club?  I spoke with one gentleman who was 82; he was the longest living member, having joined in 1945.  Sweet guy.







Did someone say cake?







I put some of my cards on the bulletin board, under the watchful eye of Foxy up there.  I'm enamoured by the idea of a club, the brotherhood and unity of it all.  Guys post photos of their prize catches, they keep up on family info, and support one another when it's needed.  So many of them are vets, and seeing the way our country as a whole treats its veterans (like crap) it's good to see a group of them laughing, happy and healthy in a place where they can feel safe.







As the day went on things got better.  I chatted up a bunch of hunters, gave out many cards and could possibly have some leads. There were some great hunting stories, too, about 800 pound bears ("and that was AFTER it was field-dressed!"), bobcats, coyotes being mistaken for German Shepards, and so forth.







The day's menu:  I think it's a riot that people still say "freedom fries".







Priceless, in fact.



The real action began when the rifle team arrived with some heavy artillery. To the left is a 1919 Browning Machine gun and on the right is a Gatling Gun.







The Gatling in action.  There were tracer bullets in the magazine, every 35 rounds. They appeared as red flares flying out of the gun.  I couldn't believe how fast that thing shot, just from a simple hand crank.







While that one was loud and very impressive, the Browning was like an earthquake.  Of course I forgot my "ears" so I just plugged my fingers in my head.  I still felt every part of my body vibrating though, including my eyebrows.  It was insane.







The range just got more and more smokey as the shooting continued and the smell of burning stuck in my nose for most of the day.







It was a real treat to see, and just about every one of us was in awe.  I left with a Holmesburg tee shirt and a positive outlook on the day.

What are you, trying to be humane?





That is a very tiny picture of me shooting a firearm for my first time.  Another phase in the progression of me becoming a hunter, in small increments.



My friend Larry at The Firing Line in South Philadelphia was gracious enough to host myself and some friends the other evening for a shooting lesson. Some of us had handled guns before, some (me) had not.  I think I did OK for my first time; it's much more difficult that I'd imagined.  So many things to think about at once-I felt somewhat overwhelmed.    I'm comforted by recalling how intimidated I was by driving a car a first though, with that same inundated-with-information feeling, and years later I am one of the best drivers I know.  These things just take time.



That said, I think I did OK.  We shot with a very simple handgun first; at least I hit the target.  Then we moved onto a rifle, which I liked because the long barrel made aiming easier.  It was also very unthreatening: quiet, no recoil, and a simple single bullet load.  Plus it felt very marching bandy.  We then moved onto revolvers, which was like throwing fire right out of my hands.  A little more intense than I'd prefer but one had laser sights which made hitting the target a snap.  I was trying not to "kill" my cartoon robber-guy, so I shot his shoulder and hand.  I thought this was very thoughtful, but all I got was a couple chuckles from the peanut gallery.







While our group of noobs was in our little stall with Larry, there were guys coming and going, getting some shooting in after work-a sort of happy hour, I suppose.  I was initially shocked at how loud the shots were.  It took an hour or so to shake off the unnerving feeling of being surrounded by so much potential killing power.  I mean, maybe this is just because I'm so new to this but it felt like walking into that place was the ultimate excercise in trust of the sanity of strangers.  What if one of those guys just snapped and aimed his gun at someone else?  What if one of us just ran out into the range?  This wouldn't be the first time I've had morbid thoughts like this...sometimes I'm just astounded by the fact that society works.  People just...behave.  Driving on a highway, anyone could lose it and start a fifty car pile-up.  But we all keep the wheel straight and go with the flow.  And we trust that everyone else will do the same.  When I was a child in class, I used to fantasize about what would happen if someone jumped out of their desk and ran up to the teacher and punched him.  Or screamed an obscenity at the top of their lungs.  Or jumped out the window.  Perhaps I've got a touch of insanity bubbling just beneath the surface and I understand that I have to follow the rules to exist in this world, perhaps I was bored and yearning for something to break the monotony of my days.  Or maybe we're all like this and have that ingrained sense of carnal, unpredictable self buried in our psyche but the knowledge that we all are connected and what's trouble for one is trouble for all.



And then there's always the few poor SOBs that actually do snap.  Not me though: I love my life, I love my people, and I love the world too much.



So shooting.  I enjoyed it.  I want to do it again.  But what I really need to focus on is practicing my bow.  That's the next step. Soon enough...

Hat Parade High Jinks

Last week my gal-pal Sarah and I trotted out my two new hats to the Devon horse show and participated in the hat parade.  I went the conservative route in terms of design, something I'm happy I tried but don't think I'll do again.  Notice how both birds are completely lacking in embellishment. I figured I would embrace the beauty nature had given them but in the end I feel like they fell short.  Plus I only came in third. I think if I'd gone with my gut I would've swept the whole thing.







As soon as I snatched up my yellow ribbon Sarah and I embarked on our mission of getting as intoxicated as possible on the free Cartier Champagne in the judges stand. I, to ease the crushing sense of failure and disappointment in seeing what I felt entitled to go to someone else.  Sarah, well she just likes free booze. We brown bagged a fifth of voddie, bummed some smokes off a carnie or two and called it a day.







You can take the girls out of Philly...but you can't make them drink.  Rather, you can lead a fillie to water, but...



Oh nevermind I've got to get back to work on a new hat.  Sunday is another hat contest and I'm going armed with the knowledge of how these things work this time.  Well, not really because I'm still clueless.  Pretending to be wealthy is exhausting; I can't wait until I actually am the real McCoy just so I can relax already and kick my feet up without worrying someone will see the trace of a neon green sticker on the bottom of my second-hand Ferragamos.



Until then, I will keep faking it until I make it.  I'll check in again after the Polo Cup so set your eyes to tranquil because my next post will be full of BLUE.

My fingers smell like horse shit.

But I skinned and mounted a bear paw today.  They smell because I just took a horse leg out of the freezer to thaw for tomorrow morning.  (horse-platform heels, world. BB style.  Look out.)  The leg was clean but even frozen that sweet smell of BARN just punched me in the face.



Anyway, back to the bear paw-it was really neat to touch a part of a bear when I've never even seen one in person.  Feeling the claws; I could easily imagine  it slicing my face to pieces.







As I skinned it, I marveled over how similar the actual anatomy seemed to my own hand.







Working with the bear was also a nice reprieve from the marathon of starlings over the weekend; the skin was thick and tough and very pleasant to work with.  While I enjoy the process of working with birds; I consider it significantly more difficult to mount than a less delicate specimen like mammoth fur paw.







Here it is, fleshed out:







I made a form and mounted the paw, sewed it shut and am now in the process of embellishing git to the desired effect.  I have 5 pieces in two shows coming up very soon; I just have to make the pieces.

"Depends on your will to live."

Snow day!  School was cancelled and I had an entire day to lounge about, watch movies, play arts&crafts, cuddle with the cats, and stuff my face with Bailys & coffee.  And cheese.  And pistachios.



I attempted to go out sledding but the snow was falling so heavy that the work to fun ratio wasn't anywhere near being in my favor so I gave up and hung inside by the fire.







The loneliness feels overwhelming sometimes, being so completely isolated.



I was getting my yoga on in front of the wood-burning stove though and looking around, and I noticed how much of the art on display at this cabin was created by people I know and care about.  I took comfort in that, and hunkered down to about 8 more episodes of "Honey West".  I took a break at one point and watched "Powder Blue" which my friend had lent to me mainly for this scene (My apologies in advance for the poor vid with dumb commentary; it's hard to find a decent one of this part):











It's really beautiful, and I'd never heard the song (the first one) before but now I need it in my collection (the second one is an old fave though).  Despite all the hate I read on Jessica Biel, I think she's a good actress. And she has a face that I could look at for days.  I think she's one of the most gorgeous people I've ever seen.  Honestly, though, she could be a little more graceful.  Dare I say, I think with the right training I could do better.



Yes, I dare.
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