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:



What to wear to Dressage? Or Traffic Court?

Diamond Tooth has you covered.



The Cher:
 Platforms aren't giving you enough height? Fret not, this piece will add a solid 6" to your statuesque figure while framing your face in luxurious iridescent turkey feathers. Made from the saddle part of a wild turkey, fanned out over hand-made buckram band frame, and embellished with vintage studded jewelry and chains.



Death on Two Legs:

For the woman (or enterprising gent) who wishes to never be forgotten. Dress to kill in this vintage buckram frame hat with a taxidermy wild turkey wing swooped around and hugging the head. No nonsense, just outrageous. The spotlight is on you and you alone. 



 The Lydia:
 Thin out the herd of simpletons on a daily basis with a piece like this- only the bravest of hearts will dare approach. Ideal for the young woman who already knows not to suffer any fools.
A taxidermy rooster head swirls into a nestled coil with a horsehair cushion on its underside. He holds a giant pearl in his beak for eternity. The entire piece is anchored to a steel headband, rendering it quite sensible for the young lady on the go, be it cycling, dancing, or levitating with the ghosts of deceased football players.








The Jane:
 The Jane is for a quiet, practical sort of gal who can hop off her cruiser bicycle to deliver a breached calf or present a thesis on the benefits of counter-transference and disclosure in the therapy hour with the same relative amount of ease. She's not a show off, look at me type (not that there is a SINGLE thing wrong with that), she's more of the silent but deadly type. The kind you definitely want on your side.
A taxidermy chicken wing wraps the head of an antique felt cap, embellished with vintage lace detail.






 The Margaret:
 The Margaret is for the reserved but stylish woman; ideal for strolling through an apple orchard to pick apples or simply survey her domain.
The base of this piece is an altered antique velvet cap; a chicken tail & hide pieces frame the front. Embellished with vintage buttons, the amount of provenance in this piece is palpable.




 A Simple and easy to wear piece with maximum impact. A disc of premium, lush iridescent turkey feathers stands straight up, anchored by a steel head band. Sits slightly cocked to one side for asymmetrical hair styling options. Ideal for adding height without making too much of a splash.


Night on The Concorde:
Channel your inner classy and carefree airline attendant with this jaunty and easily beautiful piece. Take your Coffee, Tea or Me with a dash of modern class in a hat that can compliment long flowing locks, or a formal work-appropriate chignon.
Taxidermy rooster wing mounted onto a felt hat base with a silk fringe tassel and fabric bow detail.












Chicken Wing Mohawk:
Add instant height and intrigue to any ensemble and hair style. Taxidermy chicken wings fold into each-other on a hand made buckram frame which is anchored to a steel headband, making an easy to wear (except on windy days!) piece for any gal (or guy) who intends to stop traffic or command a room.



Fox Tail Earcuff and Rabbit Tail Earcuff
The tip of a fox tail dangles from a chain and attaches to the wearer via a sterling silver ear cuff. Instantly dress up any look for the day with this piece, while simultaneously giving yourself something soft to handle during dull moments.
A no brainer




 





Raccoon Baculum Charm Necklace:

 Dare to wear a Raccoon Baculum (penis bone, Texas Toothpick, etc) and see what good juju comes your way. Women have been known to don one while trying to conceive. Gamblers wrap a baculum in a $10 bill, tuck it in their pocket and head to the track to clean up. They are said to generally attract positive energy and spirits, aside from that they are an elegant and beautiful bone to behold. This one is embellished with a genuine Swarovski Amethyst and several snug brass jump rings. Necklace included.





Halo Rose and Araucana Headpiece:





Fabric roses and Araucana chicken hide nestle together onto an antique buckram halo frame to form this playful and romantic piece. A bit Spring-like in appearance perhaps, but the right lady can work this topper any time of year. It's easy to wear and frames the face is a most flattering way.










The Pearl 2.0:




A second incarnation of the original Pearl hat, this one is a bit more compact and snug against the head, ideal for riding horses or traversing the avenue with your best "don't F with me" face.
Very no nonsense.
Taxidermy rooster wing hugs the curve of the cap and a vintage gem holds up a portion of the brim creating a face flattering swoop. Hat base is vintage felt, Stetson quality.






Possum Tail Necklace:





A taxidermy Possum tail curled into an elegant swoop, and capped off with a steel end hangs from a chain at just the right length to flatter any decolletage. Often reviled as undesirable, creepy rodents, Opossum actually have some their own sort of beauty as demonstrated in this piece.





Rooster & Deer Tail Beret:

Meeting a stranger in a cafe for a clandestine exchange? Here's your hat. Elegant and practical, with an amount of flair that will get you noticed by the right people and deter the rest.
Taxidermy rooster hide woven with dyed deer tail swoop around a vintage brown felt beret, terminating in an antique charm.






Rooster Hide Visor Cap:
Make sexy eyes across the arena at that handsome Terrier breeder during the next American Kennel Club event. Dogs and humans alike will be drawn to you in this vintage altered velvet cap with black visor and rooster hide.


The Harvest Queen:
This piece made its way up to Sharon Springs this year and was an honorary guest at the Harvest Festival kicking off an entire 3 days of celebrating all things seasonal, local and organic. Seeing as it's crafted from a taxidermied chicken hide sourced from a farm just down the road in Cobelskill, a repurposed vintage hat base and a handed down magic amber button embellishment sewn on with antique suture thread, The Harvest Queen was a perfect fit. She is full of provenance and positive energy, an asset to any wearer.






The White Witch:
Goes perfect with a glass of champagne and an icy attitude. Altered antique faux fur hat sprouts taxidermy chicken hide and tail from the front top, and is embellished with vintage jewelry. A snug fit, perfect for the Anna Wintour in your life.







Taxidermy Chicken Wing Epaulets:
 I haven't listed these on etsy yet because I'd like to get more shots of them, from the underside explaining method of attachment.  Basically they pin onto the shoulders of whatever the wearer' has on, like a brooch.   If you're in love and don't want to wait, just email me directly at diamondtoothtaxidermist@gmail.com and we'll talk.


Thanks a bajillion to me talented and patient photographer James Coughlin, and the lovely Bell sisters.  Pearl is more than a great model; check out her plethora of other talents here.






Dances with Chickens (and goats, sheep, rabbits, sweeties, etc)

               
Recently. when the kind folks at Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction approached me about curating a show of my work, I responded with an enthusiastic yes (despite my having sworn off any type of gallery-style exhibition after a spell of lackluster experiences - AITA and their products/people are a sound and superior bunch and will always be near and dear to me). I took the opportunity to do something I've been itching to do for a while now- write a public love letter, of sorts, to my guys at The Farmer's Husband where about 99% of my specimen come from.




Meet Bailey and Thomas.  For those of you who don't already know these two dolls, they are a delightful pair who lived in Philadelphia until just a couple years ago.  While still in a row home in South Philly, they had already begun their slow and steady ascent into full blown farming with a chicken run, two beehives and many plants packed in their teeny back yard like a tetris champ's wet dream.
I met Bailey first when he contacted me through a mutual friend about borrowing some taxidermy to incorporate into a window display for his floral shop, MODA botanical.  It was kismet.  I had been admiring that shop for a few years and wondering who was behind the mind-altering arrangements on the other side of the windows.  I met Bailey at his house one day and he showed me the elegant urban farm system he'd set up outside.  I believe he sent me home with a couple fresh eggs.  I was smitten.  Thus began a long and careful courtship into Dear Friend Land, in which Bailey would call me when one of his chickens passed and I would come spend some time while collecting nature's spoils. 
Bailey is a thoughtful and deliberate person, like me.  Perhaps even more so.  I immediately admired him for his approach to this farm life he was taking on.  He knew from the start that he would eventually graduate to  "real" farm out in the country, but he also was smart enough to build a solid foundation upon which his future lifestyle could be layered upon.  No cutting corners when it comes to educating oneself on raising livestock and self sustainability.  Most of all, it was his calling and something he pursued on his own, not something to brag about (I think I brag about him and Thomas enough to pick up their boasting slack) or impress friends with- which I think is a dangerous trap many of us fall into at this time of intensely curated lifestyles crafted to be shared on social media.
Thomas came into Bailey's life shortly afterward and it was like I met my long lost brother.  I'm fairly certain that he and I shared a womb in another life.  I actually can't imagine Bailey without Thomas, now that I think about it.  It's like he was always there.
They fell in love, got more chickens, peeved the neighbors (deal crack and scream obscenities at 4 in the morning, YES.  Raise chickens in your yard that cluck and shit, NO) and decided to move on.  Two years and two farms later, they've grown and evolved beyond our wildest dreams. I wonder if they ever gaze out upon their 100+ acres housing chickens, turkeys, geese, peafowl, goats, sheep, and pigs, and scratch their heads in astonishment at how far they've come and how gracefully they did it. 
Anyway, I love these two.  I love their farm, their lifestyle, their philosophy, their aesthetic.  I love the way I feel when I'm there and the happiness hangover that lasts for days after I leave.  These are two delightful and compassionate people who make the most of every last bit life has to offer. I urge you to read their blog- it might change your life.  In fact, I'll spoon feed you and start repostig their posts on my own blog.

Hence the inspiration for this show.  Almost all the pieces on display are made from specimen sourced on the farm.

I often will use chickens in parts, separating the pelt from the wings and legs to make several different items.  Talon charms are my calling card, so to speak:

 I created several new mounts using chickens, showing them interacting with man-made elements.  I wanted to convey how smart and creative these little birdies can be, and personify them a bit just for fun.  This guy is guarding an antique glass light fixture filled with pretty trinkets.  Perhaps this will add a bit of edge to his game with the ladies.  Or maybe he actually is a lady.  I still have a hard time discerning the two!
 A yawning chicken in her repurposed bird cage, and another who can't handle the sight of skulls.



Many thanks to Daniel at AITA for providing all the farming accouterments.  His curating skills and sourcing ability really brought the show together.
 

A small vignette of life inside the farm.  

  
Goat hoof candle holders.  These are from Harriet, the 80 pound goat I skinned in my bathtub before I had a proper studio.  Her hide and head were incorporated in to a rug/floor lamp which is on display in the shop window for the show. Please come see her in person.

 Finally, what Diamond Tooth show would be complete without hats, my signature specialty?  All from chickens on the farm:

Thanks again to the folks at Art in the Age, and to Bailey & Thomas.  Seriously, read The Farmer's Husband to keep up with developments on the farm, and info on ordering some of their future edible delicacies like hand raised porrrrrrrrk! (I just had some a few weeks ago and it pretty much blew my mind).

Meeting My Meat

Last weekend was an exhausting yet emotionally fulfilling one. I made the trek up to Schoharie to visit my beloved farm boys Thomas & Bailey by way of a short stay in Harlem with another dear friend while working a non taxidermy job in NYC.  I arrived at the bus stop in Albany weary, bedraggled, and depressed and drained.



The reason for my visit was not only pleasure, but purpose: the boys had been raising some rabbits for food and the time had come to process a few of them.  Thomas, who was taking on this project, immediately thought of me as a viable processing partner, given my philosophy on eating meat.  I won't call myself a vegetarian ( I still occasionally eat meat when someone offers me a free meal and I would otherwise go hungry due to lack of funds, so call me a hypocrite if you wish) or any other label because whenever I try to talk about it, I just sound pretentious.  Unfortunately, it mostly comes up when I'm declining an offer at a gathering where everyone else is partaking in the meal.   It's not like I want to stand up in a room full of folks enjoying themsselves and say, "well its just that you're all eating shit meat".



But for the most part they are.   And that isn't the problem to me but more a symptom of something much, much more saddening.***



And maybe this doesn't apply to everyone but this is my journey and perhaps someday I will articulate it (through words or taxidermy) more clearly but it's no coincidence that the craft about which I am most passionate revolves around the manipulation of skin onto forms, or why I gravitate towards the rogue genre of taxidermy.  In this realm, I can take a skin and put it on a form that has nothing to do with the original specimen.  I can give it wings, diamonds for eyes, a stretched neck, anything my mind comes up with.  As someone who has struggled (to an agonizing degree)  my entire life to achieve a healthy amount of comfort in my own skin, manipulating fantasy creatures out of the dermis of others is a projection of my own wishes to occasionally escape this body I currently occupy.



It's also no coincidence that underneath these hides are meat.  Thick, bloody, nourishing meat.  My journey as a budding taxidermist also led me down a path of exploring the source of my food, and the subsequent attempts to negotiate my ambivalent relationship with it.  This has been a years long puzzle in which I occasionally fit in a flurry of pieces in one instant, or spend months trying to jam the same ill-fitting piece into a spot that won't accept it.  Sometimes I just have to walk away and come back when the time is right.



Last weekend in New York, my food puzzle was ripe for some work and ready to accept a flurry of new pieces to their rightful home.



Here is Thomas, watering their garden :







They've got corn, tomatoes, pepper, squash, a wide variety of herbs and edible flowers plus many others that I am forgetting.  It's basically 99% edible though, and they are incorporating it into their daily meals. For example, here are some treats we harvested with which to make a salad dish for our Elizabethan Rabbit dish that evening:





Even though my parents had a garden in our yard when I was a child, my knowledge of plants and how to grow food is so profoundly lacking.  To actually see where the ingredients grow, how they are cared for, then pick them myself put some of those pieces back in the puzzle.



Meet Meat and Tilda.  Meat is just that; he's to be processed sometime next year I believe.  Tilda will stick around for some breeding.  The boys know so much about breeds, and all the animals that they raise- they are fully invested in this life and it shows.  They admit it will be difficult to say goodbye to Meat when the time comes but I think Thomas put it best when he said "I've nourished you your entire life, now it's time for you to nourish me".  And how much more rich an experience to have touched that thick muscular tank of a creature and to have heard its delightful snorts while it was alive!







It saddens me how much bacon is consumed every day, purchased thoughtlessly at some drive-thru window or convenience store and consumed in a car or subway en route to wherever the day is to be spent. I understand that most of us are in no position to raise our own food, and the majority of us need to rush somewhere to keep whatever shitty job is keeping our electric running, and this is the larger issue I was referring to earlier.  We as a people appear to share this common need to multi-task and get everything done quickly and graduate from one spinning gerbil wheel (sorry for the cliché analogy but it fits!) to the next, never stopping to rest or be kind to ourselves because that type of behaviour simply is not encouraged.  Working oneself to death is rewarded, taking a day to sleep and rest is frowned upon.  Given this constant sense of urgency in everything all the time, it's no surprise that food has become completely  overprocessed and unrelateable to its origins.  Eating.  It's just one more thing we have to do.***



[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Meat receives his daily cocktail bath massage.[/caption]



I cannot stress enough how much of a difference it has made for me to see the full circle.  I will never view dairy or meat products the same, especially after seeing the different ways in which farmers tend to their stock. If an animal is raised with love and respect, why shouldn't it make sense that the meat it provides us will be better?















Which brings me to the rabbits.  Below is the big mamma rabbit who birthed the ones which will serve as meals.  She's a really darling, and we thanked her for her hard work.



Now, the next few pictures after this are graphic, but no more so than any cooking website with a meat recipe.  There is plenty of educational material out there on how to humanely kill and process a rabbit so I felt no need to further saturate the internet with my own images, but there are some meat and guts pictured so consider yourself warmed.







After plenty of thought, discussion, and watching videos on the subject, we decided that severing the spine at the cervical vertebrae would be the safest and best bet.  I felt more comfortable using my bare hands than some external device like a broom stick of which I could possibly lose control.  So we each picked a rabbit, went to our designated spot, said a prayer of thanks and counted to three.  Mine didn't go so smoothly but we remained calm and it was over in a matter of seconds.  My heart was pounding, my knees and arms felt weak and I had to crouch down to collect myself.



Wow.  I had just taken a life.  I had just looked this creature in the eye, held it, stroked it, comforted it and then snapped it neck.  And I wasn't sorry.  I wasn't even crying, like I thought I would.  Instead I felt surprisingly in touch with my surroundings and how I related to them.



Look.  I know that hunters dispatch animals all the time and every modern luxury I enjoy comes at the price of an animal's life, one way or the other.  I'm not trying to pile on  any more significance to this event than my own personal amount, and certainly don't want to be seen as the next hipster chick to fool herself into thinking she invented "farm to table".  So please don't misinterpret my words for any more than what they are: a description of my experience, the very first time I embarked on paying the karmic price for my meal, as Georgia Pellegrini has said.



Without wasting any time we hung them up and started processing.  Here's Thomas peeling the skin off his rabbit:







Gutting: his went much more smoothly than mine, but I enjoyed the process regardless.  There is an intense heat that comes off a creature once it has died; I noticed this the one time I purchased a freshly killed squab from the live poultry market and I could feel its heat burning through my bag and into my back as I rode home with it.  This heat is even more concentrated inside the gut cavity and it was a bizarre and grotesque thrill to stick my hands in it and yanked out the heart.







Thomas successfully removed his bladder- which is just beautiful -while I cut right through mine and wound up with a pee covered pair of bloody hands.







The butchering, if you can call it that,  (I feel like I'm insulting real butchers by calling the hack job we did by that name) took the better part of an hour.  Clearly both Thomas and myself could benefit from some lessons.  If only we each had our own reality shows where attempts at self betterment through education could be sponsored by some third-party....



The rabbit chunks were tossed in flour and then lightly fried, and ultimately went into this wine-based stew mixture and cooked for three hours in Thomas' new Le Creuset.  Please check The Farmer's Husband for full recipe and details.







In honor of my visit, Bailey created an outstanding centerpiece for the dinner table.  Mr. Pickles approves.







All the photos I took of our three course meal came out blurry and dark, so I'm going to leave that coverage to the pros at The Farmer's Husband.  What I will say is that it was by far one of the best meals of my life, and along with the dazzling sensory experience of taste, smell and sight, there was also the sense of having earned this meal by getting my hands dirty and truly engaging myself in it.  I felt so full that I had to undo the top button of my jeans but for the first time in my life I felt no shame associated with this fullness.  Nary a hint of the words calories, exericize, weight, needing to justify this food or guilt reared its ugly head.  I just felt nourished and content.



And for me, that was the gap closing right where it needed to.



The next morning I "helped" the boys with their chores by hovering about taking pictures.  Here they are treating the pigs to some goat's milk.  I think the Lass was tickled mid milking and stomped her hoof in the bowl, warranting it pretty much unfit for human consumption.  But just right for hungry piggies!  Nothing is ever wasted on this farm and everything has a purpose.







Even rumps double as pillows.







Story time with the Littles.











Life imitating art imitating life.







Chicken city, rush hour.







Sandals are a poor choice on a farm during chores but my feet survived.  In other news, I would like for my hair to mimic the coloring/pattern of this chicken.  Can anyone help me with this?







That afternoon I boarded a bus back to NYC  which connected to another bus to Philly which connected to another bus home.  All the while in tow I had a mini-coolor with rabbit heads, pelts and feet for me and organs for my cats.  They LOVE raw rabbit.  I also had a generous amount of treats from the boys, clear eyes and a full heart.



CAN'T LOSE.



 



 



*** It occurred to me I posted this that my sadness over mindless consumption transcends food, and is directly connected to waste.  How many times have your pantyhose ripped and you just shrugged and threw them out, knowing you could just as easily replace them?



I'll just buy another.



I have come to loathe those words.  I've always had a disdain for waste, but my financial status as of late has forced me to put a very fine point on this.  Waste is unacceptable.  I cannot afford to throw anything out or damage my nice things so I handle my precious goods with care and find ways to use everything to the last drop.  I'm talking about slicing open the moisturizer tube and scraping the inside to get one more dollop.  I remember as a kid I thought it was so funny that my depression-era grandmother (who I've come to realise was never actually poor, she was just resourceful) would re-use her hosiery in so many creative ways: the elastic waist bands served to secure boxes of brownies, the material made into really cute puppets or even soap savers. Now I totally get it.  This mentality of "just throwing it away and buying a new one" is why we have an entire industry built around "Field Destroying" (it's so difficult to find info about this online but basically it's when folks are paid to destroy any merchandise that is flawed or just plain undesirable instead or donating, or selling at a discount.  It isn't even permissible to toss these items in the garbage for fear of some filthy dumpster diver getting their dirty poor person paws on it.  If this isn't a the canary in the coal mine showing us how fucked up the retail/consumer system is, than my head is exploding for no reason.)



There is no connection to where our goods come from.  Even if it's techno-wares, someone's hands touched it.  Someone made the packaging.  Someone trucked it over to your corner store and stocked it on a shelf for you and I, the consumers.  I really hope that when my clients take a piece of mine home, they treasure it and feel all the blood sweat and tears I poured into that item.  Obviously, a custom taxidermy hat is much more involved and labor intensive than a bobby pin but please, next time you're at the counter, handing over your paper or plastic to be swiped, run through your mind the series of events which brought this product to your possession, and acknowledge the extraordinary amount of coordination and teamwork that made it possible.  Thanks for reading.

Oh this? That's just a big black cock on my head.

[googlevideo=http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3099526434105125496]



"Oh 'ello there.  Welcome to me humble home.  Care for a spot of tea?  Jeeves!  Put a pot on for these lovely readers and make it snappy! *snaps feathers*  In the meantime, entertain yourselves with the above video  and accompanying photos plus the story of, well, MOI."







I see you've met Mr. Moon.  He's a sassy old boy, isn't he?  He did great last Friday at the Bellhouse where I submitted him as my entry for the 6th annual Carnivorous Nights Competition, hosted by M.A.R.T. and the Secret Science Club.  While I have no photos of my presentation, I was wearing a black floor length ball gown from 1940 and my black rooster head-piece, along with some mink-tail arm cuffs for good measure.  To provide a vague visual:







*photo compliments of Milica Schiavio







*photo compliments of Beth Tusso



That's the lovely and endlessly talented Daisy Tainton seated next to me.  I think our hairs make a pretty picture, yes? Her entry was an animatronic cat which played Michael Jackson's "Thriller" from its asshole.



Oh look!  Found one:







*compliments od the Good Days blog.



But I digress.  Back to Mr. Moon, who began his first stage of life as an extremely rare breed of chicken known as a Silkied Ameraucana.  They began as a spontaneous genetic mutation resulting in these darling birds with fur-like feathers.  There are only thirty or so of them in the country; if you'd like to learn more about the species, please see this lengthy conversation between breeders which documents their discovery.







While I was working on this mount, I was deep into a very thick biography of drummer Keith Moon.  As the drummer for a band called the Beachcombers and later on The Who, he turned the traditional role of percussion on its head.  Before he came along, a drummer's role was to set up a steady foundation upon which the singer and guitarist could shine.  Not content to be the audio version of wallpaper, Keith made himself into a frontman, a total fucking rock star in fact.  He had the largest, most outrageous drum kit in the world and just beat the thing to death every night onstage. He broke the mold, not unlike this new species of chicken.







The downside to this breed is that they are short-lived.  Something about their silky feathers (which make them so remarkable in the first place) not holding enough body heat to sustain them.  Again, I drew parallels to Keith Moon and other famous young artists who perish so early in their lives: they are like these furiously burning comets just hurtling through life, bound to burn to death.  What makes them so outstanding can also be their demise.







Since Mr. Moon was developing into a rock star rooster, I found it only fitting that he be completely embellished with genuine Swarovski crystals on his face and feet.  And for some reason the bob cat glass eyes seemed fitting.











Anyway, while it's tragic that these inexplicably magnetic beings expire so early in their lives, it shouldn't go unsaid that while they are burning away, they are also lighting up the lives of anyone in their orbit.







So why not give Mr. Moon a second life as the most beautiful fiber-optic taxidermy lamp that ever existed?  After all, the driving thrust behind my passion for this craft is the idea that I'm giving these wonderful creatures an eternal life, so to speak.  Why not let him keep lighting up the lives of all whom he meets?







This was no easy task for me, as I'd never made a lamp before.  It took some time, but I figured out how rig a bird form with hundreds of fiber optic threads, all emerging from several points, and then painstakingly taxied the skin onto the whole mess.  There was much fenageling, but eventually I got the threads to sit just where I wanted them to.  After trimming them all to the right lengths, I found a light source that was bright enough to make an impact after traveling through the cables but not so hot that it would melt them.  Next up was finding the lamp/stand.  I sourced an oldie from a second-hand shop nearby, rewired the whole thing (I'm a junior electrician now too!) and covered the glass panels in a patterned white brocade to mute the light.  And, tada!







Good evening to you as well, Mr. Moon.



That was, give or take a few words, my entire presentation.  I knocked it out of the park. I absolutely love being able to flex my showmanship muscles while flaunting something I'm so very proud of.  I get such a rush from being on stage/performing, I can feel it all night.  I guess I want to be a star too, kind of like Mr. Moon.



There were some other amazing pieces, I havent been able to find too much coverage online, but one young woman brought an entire beautifully mounted coyote named "Winnie" which would've taken a  ribbon at any conventional taxidermy competition, no doubt.  There was Nate Hill, ( known for his squirm-inducing Chinatown garbage taxidermy tours) tipping the gross-out scales with a live specimen tree-trimming presentation.  There was an insect trapped in a chunk of amber that somehow still moved. The two-headed mouse with a top hat.  I also missed several presentations while waiting backstage to go up but fortunately for you (and myself) this was all being filmed by a television crew.  Not really sure what I am allowed to say without stepping on anyone's dicks so I'll just leave it at that and then post more when the show airs.



There was also a large dog with a monkey on its back and a whole smattering of other artifacts, as well as a mounted fox, also sporting a monkey on its back which was wielding a bottle opener.  Why?  Because the mount was concealing a beer cooler.  But if you're like me and hate the brew, fret not.  The thing pissed whiskey too.  (note to self: booze + taxidermy= crowd going apeshit). For photos of all the entries and a wrap up from a guest perspective, check out this Good Days blog by Sir Snuggles.



So who won?  The pissing fox took Grand Master and the dog placed second, no shock there.  I came in third which is still pretty rad.  The competition was fierce and people really stepped up their game.  I'll just come back next year with an even more outstanding piece.  Competitions are good for that; unlike client custom work, I really push myself to go out on a ledge and venture out of my comfort zone, skill-wise.  I take risks, both conceptually and physically with the actual mount and pour my heart into it.  I'm also extremely competitive and I hate losing.  So long as I keep it in check, that can be a healthy driving force behind my growth as an artist.



I was at a complete loss of words while accepting my trophy, and muttered something like "feels like home" which I'm sure made no sense at all.  What I was trying to convey is that, in the presence of the judges (whom I hold in the highest esteem), and my fellow taxidermy enthusiasts, I feel like I'm really home.  It's a unique feeling and I took a mental snapshot so I could hold onto it for when I get lonely in my little studio in south Philly.



We were ushered backstage to pose with our trophies for photos, and with the three of us left standing there after it all was over, I began to sense I was the third wheel in a bromantical masturbatory fest so I excused myself (not to one in particular as I was apparently invisible) and packed up my bird, extension cord, etc.  When I emerged from backstage the entire show room was cleaned out, chairs folded, floor swept.  I heaved a giant sigh.



The spell was broken.



Back to life.



In this instance, that means getting right back on the saddle for another quick jaunt up to NYC to knock out two of my Twenty4Twenty projects in one night.  Stay tuned!

Devon Dressage? More like Bon Voyage!

It's been a hectic couple of weeks and I've neglected this blog.  Did anyone notice?  I hope so.  Anyway, I've been wrapped up in outside jobs like painting pumpkins for a corporate gig and transcribing VHS tapes of reality shows.   I do these things to support my taxidermy habit.   In other words, I work so that I can work.  It's exhausting but thankfully one of my many hats requires me to spend copious amounts of down time lounging on the Lido deck of cruise ships where I catch up on all my beauty rest.  In fact, I'm leaving for one of those trips in just a few hours, and I will soak up every drop of precious sleep that comes my way because once I hit dry land again, it's go time for holiday craft show prep, the annual Carnivorous Nights/MART competition and other projects in the works. Amongst all this hustle bustle I attended Devon Dressage last week.  This week long event features a ladies hat day and as you may recall I received accolades for my squirrel fascinator entry last year.  I believe that my work has improved significantly since then and was quite proud of this years entry, a black rooster bedecked with crystals and gems mounted in such a fashion so that it would appear to be curling up on the wearer's head, and providing bangs out of its wings.  Sadly, I have no pictures from the event but last night my friend Rachel came by for some wine and chat and a photo project so we snuck in a couple shots of the new rooster hat just for fun:



Pardon my dirty mirror; let  your eyes instead be dazzled by the giant cock on my head.











Anyway.  Devon Dressage.  I didn't win a thing. Nada!  Zilch!  Can you believe it?  I couldn't, but then I saw this guy was one of the judges and figured I should take his millinery opining with a sizable grain of salt.  I know I'm a winner and that's that counts, (or so mother always told me) so I gracefully let the other women take what I thought should be mine and spent the rest of the day in heaven with two dear friends, watching beautiful horses and insanely skilled riders perform the horse ballet known as dressage.



So now it's almost midnight and I have to decide if I should just stay up a few more hours or try to get a tiny bit of sleep.  I'm all packed with plenty of Diamond Tooth goodies in tow (hopefully this time will not be a repeat of DELTA= Don't Expect Luggage To Arrive) so I can properly saturate the high seas with my product.  Plenty of pictures and fun stories to follow, see y'all next week!



xoxo BB

Stick it.

 



Recently one of my favorite clients commissioned me to create several custom pieces for her, one of which being two pairs of talon hair sticks: one for her and the second pair as a birthday gift for one of my other favorite clients.  These two gals are so fun to design for because they just tell me what they want and let me go.  They trust me, and enjoy what I create.  It inspires confidence when people have faith in me.



One set is crafted from a pair of feet formerly belonging to the black rooster I skinned a while back to make a hat out of.  I just remembered I need to photograph the hat; it's really quite smashing.  Anyway, the spurs on this cock's legs are a force to be reckoned with and I got such a good energy from this specimen that I really wanted to use it for this project.







The foot itself is mounted on a stick I sharpened and textured myself, and accentuated with rabbit fur and feathers of peacock and rooster.  The talons themselves are treated to a glossy pearlescent coat of color.







The second pair is slightly larger in size; I used pheasant feet and from there it's basically la meme chose as the first pair.







I used repurposed mink fur with pheasant feathers this time around.







And that's that.  I'm eager to see how they look on the ladies as they both are quite striking women with full heads of thick black hair.



As usual, thanks to Jim Coughlin for taking such consistently awesome photos of my work.



Philly confidential: Happy Birthday, Shannah!

24K video

I don't know what to title to video segment of my blog yet.  But here are some moving pictures set to music, telling the story of a lovely rooster:











Throw some bonmots my way, and if you give me a decent title a free treat is coming your way!



 



 

"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:



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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.



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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.



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*photo credit: James 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.
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