Diamond Tooth Taxidermy

Exquisite Taxidermy Art and Design

© 2013 Diamond Tooth Taxidermy
Stacks Image 109

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:

Who Needs Cake for their Birthday?

How about the gift of taxidermy lessons? 
Recently a lovely and talented photographer in my building approached me about a private taxidermy lesson for her beau as a birthday gift, and I jumped at the chance. 
I am still finding my footing, so to speak, in the teaching arena-I feel that my skill set needs to be undeniably solid in order for me to present them correctly, and pass on to an apt pupil.  What I'm learning in the process is that I very much enjoy private lessons in which I can tailor the session to meet the student's unique needs.

Take a business card!

During the lesson, Inna Spivakova from Peach Plum Pear Photo took photos.  I have her permission to use them here-these are all her shots.  When she sent me the files I was shocked- she is an absolute photo ninja; I didn't notice her in the room buzzing around taking all these shots the entire time!  How did she get behind me and under my desk without me even seeing her!?  That is talent, and just general good character.  No wonder she is such a fantastic wedding photographer.

Before I commence skinning any specimen, I burn sage and say a small prayer of thanks to its spirit.  This rule holds fast for any animal worked on in my studio so Dan, below, was not exempt.  He burned sage and said something in his head, which  works just as well.  Hopefully it wasn't anything like "this bitch is crazy".

And the skinning begins!

 Dan is really good with his hands- he'd actually had some experience skinning critters before.  A bit rough for the delicate rabbit hide, however, but by the end he had a pretty good handle on it.

 He even showed me a new way to split the ears!  That's his finger in there, in the foreground.  In the background you can see me using my ancient looking spring loaded steel Ear Splitters.  I prefer metal tools to my hands every now and again.  This is something I love about this craft though- there are always other ways to do things.  There's no one right method. 

 Harriet the rug lamp is giving Inna face and if you look carefully behind her you can see the beginnings of a special piece that will be auctioned off for an event in October...

 Since these rabbits were from the butcher, it was our intention to eat them.  This is why instead of Borax we used Baking Powder.  It helps with gripping the skin (not as much as Borax, obviously) but won't poison you (although Borax in tiny quantities is safe to ingest according to some).

 The natural lighting in my studio is second to none.

 Here I'm showing Dan how to turn the paws completely inside out in order to remove all finger bones and tissue.  This is where it's to one's benefit to have a gentle touch. 

 It's interesting to me to see how I look when I'm concentrating on someone else's work and refraining from grabbing the piece out of their hands to just do it myself.  This is something I find most challenging in teaching; I have a hard time relinquishing any control over anything ever.

Harriett's light illuminates Elke2.0 who reigns supreme:

 The lesson went long, but a great and educational time was had by all.  It was also a treat to get to know these two.  They're solid folks.  Here are the ingredients Inna used for their rabbit marinade:

 And here's the rabbit:

 Finit!  Brava!

If you think you'd ever like to take a private or small group lesson from me, please don't hesitate to contact me at diamondtoothtaxidermist@gmail.com.  We can customize a lesson just for you!

Thanks Inna and Dan!

The Other Dark Meat

Here's a pile of fat at my dubious feet.  I read that I had to cut out the glands under the armpits but I never saw any glands.  Just mountains of fat.  I started to wonder if I was making a huge mistake.

 Let me explain.  A few months back I was presented a raccoon from a trapper who occasionally gives me the spoils of his never-ending attempt to keep predators from his ducks and chickens.  I feel not-so-great to downright terrible about trapping, despite the more "humane" traps out there these days, which is why I have set about learning more about this practice (blog post on that later) so I can feel fully informed before falling squarely one one side of the fence.
In the meantime, however, while this guy is dispatching these "nuisance" creatures, I may as well make use out of every part right?  I'd heard about eating raccoon before; my buddy who grew up in West Virginia claims to have eaten it many times as a child.  My friend Georgia Pellegrini who wrote a book on eating less tan conventional meats (Girl Hunter, do yourself a favor and go get it now if you haven't read it) has prepared and eaten raccoon dozens of times.  In fact, she walked me through the preparation of this dish via multiple text messages over the weekend.

 A little info about the "other dark meat" from an essay by Bill Hanks:
Trapper Larry Brownsbeger runs an add in the newspaper. He sells his Raccoons for between $3 to $7 each. that isn't a pound either. His Raccoons are clean and neatly wrapped. He announces his location of where the sales with take place. It doesn't take long and he is sold out.
The meat isn't USDA inspected either. Neither is Deer for that matter. There are no laws to prevent trappers from selling their meat. When you think of "green", Raccoon has no additives, steroids, growth hormones, or antibiotics. It is truly an organic "green" form of meat.
In Missouri, it is estimated that there are 20 Raccoons for every square mile. The Raccoon population has doubled since the 80's. There are more Raccoons now than when the State was first settled.
Pioneers use to eat Raccoon. They were easy to trap and prepare. A Raccoon can easily fill a family of four or five. Unless you know a trapper or trap yourself, it is hard to find a Raccoon that has already been cleaned and wrapped properly.
Raccoons provide a great source of protein to a person's diet. Still for many Americans, a Raccoon is still considered as a rodent that they try to avoid hitting on the road. However, for a few that know how to cook it, it is a meal that they can't wait for.

I began by quartering up my raccoon and making a marinade.  I used salt, sugar, rosemary, Spodee (I kind of live off the stuff), pear vinegar and pineapple juice.  In hindsight, I used much too much salt but now I know for next time.

 I let it sit for two full days and then set about braising it.  I've never actually braised anything (I attempted to braise a fox a year ago but didn't look up directions or anything so it turned out just awful) so I looked up instructions on several sites and kind of married a few recipes.  I cooked the meat in really hot grape seed oil for about a minute on each side:

 It began to smell REALLY FUCKING GOOD.  I started to think I might be onto something.

I then added "aromatic" vegetables  (onion, carrots, celery, shallots, crushed garlic) to the hot oil after taking out the meat.  Here's where I made my second mistake.  I added more oil to the veggies while they were cooking which was completely unnecessary.

After the mixture had become soft, I deglazed the pot (another first for me!) by adding sherry.  The recipe called for wine but I think sherry is pretty much the same, right?  Plus its all we had in the house.
I then added the meat back in, added more sherry and a 32oz can of crushed tomatoes.  The liquid didn't quite cover the raccoon so I topped it off with some water, bay leaves and paprika (I don't even know what paprika is for but it was looking so lonely on the spice rack really wanting to be useful so I figured, what the heck), brought the whole thing back up to a simmer, covered it tightly and in the oven it went for 4 hours.

Except it was more like 6 hours because I fell asleep.  Still, I tasted it before putting the whole pot in the fridge for the night and the meat just melted in my mouth.  It left an unusually velvety texture in my mouth.
The next night I heated up a couple bowls for the mister and me and we dined on coon stew with garlic bread and side salads.   A few notes:
-I think because of the crazy amount of salt I used in the marinade, the meat itself was just a bit too sodium rich.  I don't mind a little salt though; it keeps my blood pressure at human level and prevents head rushes.  Jim however, was NOT feeling it.
-This is an eztremely rich dish.  The raccoon is so fatty to begin with and like I said earlier, I used far too much oil.  Again, I don't mind, especially if there is bread to soak up all the goodness but it does feel like more of a cold weather comfort dish than anything you'd want to put in your body on a 90 degree day. 
That said, I ate leftovers for lunch today and was just as happy with it lukewarm having sat in my bag all day.  Does that sound gross?  Should I be refrigerating my food?  Psssssht.  No thanks.

I will, however, be packing up the rest of this dish (this raccoon really could feed a family of five, there is so much of it!), freezing it and saving it for a really dreary low energy day in November.

In the meantime, I might get Georgia to give me some more pointers.  She and I have been trying to figure out a joint class we could teach where I show how to skin and mount a specimen and she shows how to turn it into a gourmet dish.  No waste!  Maybe raccoons are the answer.


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.


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.
See More Posts…

Back to the top of the page