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:



One of My Favorite Things: WILBUR VINTAGE/A Beth Beverly Fashion Retrospective

Blouse from Wilbur Vintage

 I want to start incorporating posts about things and people who make my life as wonderful as it is that aren't necessarily taxidermy related, and am feeling inspired today to tell you all about one of my nearest and dearest, Wilbur Vintage.  I've known Dan Wilbur (owner and proprietor) for almost a decade now and ours is the kind of friendship that feels so instantaneous that the possibility of having met in other lifetimes isn't even questioned.  It's just understood. 
Gold shirt under black sweater from Wilbur-I'm posing with Cesar Galindo & model for his Fall '13 shoot.
Sweater again, in 2010
Dan has unparalleled taste in clothing and what makes him such a valuable asset to any woman's wardrobe is that he knows what women look good in.  Also, he's not afraid to tell you when something is not working on your body.  He understands that we all are built differently, and can see us through an unbiased filter- not the one we see ourselves through which can be tinted with flaw seeking shame or dumb shit we've been told by vampires who pose as people close to us in our formative years.

Recently I was getting dressed for an event and realised just about everything I wear is from Wilbur.  Especially clothes for events where I know I'm going to be photographed.  Without a doubt almost every time I leave the house, I can look down and see at least one piece from Wilbur Vintage on my body- dress, shoes, belt, scarf, shirt, gloves, anything and everything that looks good comes from this magical place.

Here's a brief video  from The American Hipster series in which I am lovingly ensconced in one my my favorite Wilbur blouses:






This dress is possibly my favorite Wilbur purchase- it's a vintage Bonwit Teller piece, which holds sentimental value for me since I spent five years of my life as the window dresser for Daffys which occupied the old Bonwit Teller building:

Cruise Elegant, baby: 2011


On the set  of Immortalized, 2012



 Back in 2010 when I made that fateful trek up to Brooklyn to compete in the annual Carnivorous Nights taxidermy competition (and won best in show in case anyone forgot) I armed myself with this stealthy suede number that was completely open backed.  It's hard to tell from this photo but it was drawn quite tight at the waist line with a little ruffle.  It felt very Cruella Deville which is exactly what I needed that night to dominate in unfamiliar territories.  This dress is probably second favorite in my collection.  Sadly, it requires a small waist and I've grown a couple inches since then- relegating this piece to its space on the dress up rack until I decide to put down the chocolate for a month or so.

Dress and gloves from Wilbur Vintage



 Back in 2011 I attended the Kentucky Derby and several of its surrounding events (The Barnstable Ball, The Brown Ball) to which I had donated taxidermy pieces to be auctioned off in exchange for tickets to said balls (side note- Mike Mills from REM and his girlfriend bought one of my hats. I wonder if she ever wears it and thinks of me...).  Of course I turned to Wilbur when planning my wardrobe for this trip:


   
At the Derby:Pink dress from Wilbur


 Our first night in Kentucky I stunned the locals with this number:


Unfortunately the hat is really being a camera hog so below is the same exquisite gown again, this time paired with a rabbit fur and antler hat:

Elegant night, AKA the night we narrowly escaped the Cozumel mafia

 Last year at the Radnor Hunt, the tailgate theme was "Islands", to be interpreted many ways. I went with Cuba and channeled my inner priestess, with the help of this colorful number from Wilbur.  This is definitely a do not try this at home level ensemble.

Dress from Wilbur Vintage





 When Immortalized was gearing up for its television premier there were several promotional events where I had the opportunity to dress in my finest.   The photo below is borrowed from Takeshi and that's me posing with him outside- it was a pop up gallery called Immortal Love and it was just terrific.  This vintage jacket paired perfectly with my just finished lamb fetus hat.

Jacket from Wilbur Vintage



 Inside from the same party:

Dress from Wilbur Vintage


 I also had the opportunity this year to show one of my hats during a NY Fashion Week runway show.  Here's me posing with the designer, Cesar Galindo and my hat.  The model wore it like a champ.  I took a mental snapshot of how it felt to sit in the front row and see someone walk so flawlessly in a piece that I made, and I take that snapshot out of the recesses of my mind and cuddle with it on rainy days.  I'm wearing this fantastic jacket I got from Wilbur that wraps around the body like a blanket and has tassels and ropes, a couple of my favorite things.
Jacket from Wilbur Vintage



I most recently wore this batik dyed dress from Wilbur to the second annual Ladies Tea at Devon, where it received rave reviews.  (Carson Kressley said it was his favorite dress of the day and that's that.)
Dress from Wilbur Vintage


In case you're not tired of watching me play dress-up, this video captures me in all my Wilbur Vintage glory, in motion no less:





 If you're feeling inspired to go check out Wilbur yourself, the shop is on Fabric Row in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia:

Address: 716 S 4th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Phone:(215) 413-5809
Hours:
 
Monday1:00–8:00 pm
Tuesday1:00–8:00 pm
Wednesday1:00–8:00 pm
Thursday1:00–8:00 pm
Friday1:00–8:00 pm
Saturday12:00–7:00 pm
Sunday12:00–7:00 pm


Not in Philly?  Lucky you, he's got an etsy shop:  Wilbur Vintage on Etsy










Pumpkin

Back in January I received an email from a grieving woman about her dog whom had just passed away. I always get a pang in my heart upon opening these messages, along with a sense of urgency.  In these cases, it's most likely an unexpected death and the person is unlikely to have the room or desire to accommodate a corpse in their freezer.

Meet Pumpkin:



 Pumpkin was/is the dearly loved Chow/German Shepard mix rescue dog of a young woman who was absolutely heartbroken the day I met her.  It's emotionally taxing to meet new people under these circumstances but rewarding just the same, in that I feel a sense of honor in being entrusted as a steward of sorts of the creature in which this human has poured so much emotion into.  Also as someone who has struggled with vulnerability and allowing others to see me in that state, I feel a genuine sense of respect and compassion for the people coming to me in a state of grief.  I've always been a highly sensitive and compassionate person and these moments are what remind me that we are all made one way or another for a reason.
 
As I'm sure you may have guessed, there are no off the shelf mannequin heads available for purchase in likeness of this specific dog breed.  One feature in particular that would be important to recreate was the fleshy jowls and his goofy smile.  My best bet was a carcass cast.

Here is the silicone mold I made using Pumpkin's head:

I cut it into two parts, took the head out, joined the halves back together into a container and poured the expanding foam inside.  After peeling the silicone away I was left with a perfect cast of Pumpkin's head:

 This would be the manikin for the mount.  From there it was a matter of setting the eyes, making ear liners, adding clay to the right parts and getting the expression just right.


Thankfully I was provided with dozens of pictures as reference material and was able to recreate his happy, sort of silly and completely lovable expression fairly well.  I'm especially happy with the eyes.



 She wanted the hide tanned as a rug as well; this coat was too beautiful to let go:

 


Most of the clay went into modeling the jowls:



And just for fun here's an underneath shot:




See you later, Pumpkin.  It was a true honor to work with you. 


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.









































So there's this show:


I've tweeted, I've facebooked, I've instagrammed, and basically had the time of my life promoting this project. It's been such a long time in the making that it almost feels surreal having already happened. I filmed both my episodes back in November, one of which has yet to air so I still can't say much but it feels like giving birth. I mean, if I had any idea what that felt like I suppose I could rightfully compare the two, but since I've chosen to pursue a different sort of labor and consequent "baby" in my life I feel justified in using the term "birthing".    I'm so honored to have taken part in this show and also that the producers took such a shine to me in the casting stage. The last couple years have been very eye opening to me as far as how much time, psychic energy and work goes into just a few minutes of television. It reminds me of my stylist days, when working on a shoot I would step back and mentally take note of all the wages being paid that day, the catering, the wardrobe, the location rental, equipment, insurance, etc. Then there's post production and the negotiations between the client and advert company...all for one page in a magazine that most folks will flip by absent mindedly in line at the supermarket while they kill time in line. The mind reels.
So I went into this having some sense of how things get boiled down, so to speak. Being on the more glamorous side, however, of getting primped and performing while maintaining my identity as a fashion taxidermist was earth shatteringly novel to me. I just melted into every second of it and relish it to this moment. I might just start wearing stilettos to skin chickens just to get a little rush when I miss that experience.   I hope you'll watch the entire series.   I believe in this program and think deeper exploration of taxidermy, its history and how the craft itself ties into our consumption and interaction with nature's creatures will yield nothing short of mind opening experiences for all involved.
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