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:



Past Lives


Around the same time I was in taxidermy school in 2010, I was in the height of my obsession with aerial dance.  I brought my hoop up with me to the Poconos and would practice in the barn outside of the cabin after school most days: 





While I have a place to rehearse back home now, its not easy to get to and not always accessible.  My muscles have certainly atrophied and life is just different. I hope my love affair with the hoop isn't over but merely on hiatus.  It's a magical feeling, defying gravity.  I obviously never made it to Cirque performer level but I worked some aerial gigs here and there.  Here's a video I made of myself rehearsing a dance I choreographed for myself. Pretty good for being mostly self taught.  There's some painfully slow and awkward points but you can tell I love it. 



It saddens me that this part of my life has taken a backseat.  My time is completely consumed with my baby right now- which is Diamond Tooth.  This leaves little time for pretty much anything else.  I hope someday to achieve a better sense of balance but right now it's all taxidermy all the time.  Perhaps my interest in other things will get a breath of life through this blog as I remember and celebrate them.Are there any passions you've had to put on hold while pursuing other dreams?

The Year of the Cat









 



Well, it almost took a year. It was a hot Summer day, I believe, when S, my client (not sure if she's want her name used here so I'll just stick to a one letter initial) called me and requested I pick up her recently departed best feline friend.   Someday when I have more articulate thoughts running through my mind I'll delve into all the emotional trappings of pet taxidermy, but for now I'll keep it brief.  It's awkward and sad, picking up the deceased member of a family.  I feel clumsy and don't know what to do with my hands.  I feel guilty if I find something funny.  It's a kind of turmoil, and the only thing that helps me through it is admitting that I feel awkward and weird and moving on from there.  I feel like I'm connecting with people whom I've barely known on a level so deep and raw that it's like hitting a nerve out of nowhere.



But I do know S.  I've been getting to know her. She's a delightfully sensitive and wonderful being, with what I suspect is a morbid sense of humor but I haven't seen it quite yet.



Anyway, meet her cat:







Poor baby was sick for a while and had received some kind of shot or treatment, hence the shaved arms.  Aside from that she was a beautiful specimen.  It took me forever to get the form down; it was basically hand sculpted over the entire period of time.  I refrained from too much embellishment as I knew S might want to add her own personal touches.  For no particular reason I incorporated a crystal ball for her to lean on, as though she were showing S the future from the other side.







 



I want to hear purring when I look at this photo.  Lets not ever forget how magical cats are.







I figured a pillow would be a suitable base, as she is a regal creature.  And I guess that's it.  I'm tired and need to be on a plane in a few hours.  More on this shortly, when I have my wits about me.



Ladies Day 2011

"Oh hello there.  Like the view?  This is what a winner looks like, dearie, and don't forget it. "







Well, at least I was viewing this from the shaded and breezy environment inside the winner' box whilst sipping my ice-cold Cartier champagne.  Those ladies had to roast out there for a good fifteen minutes.



Do I sound catty?  Bitter?  It's no wonder, given the fact that after making two special pieces for the hat competition at Ladies day at the Devon Horse Show, with the goal of winning the Mad Hatters category, we missed the entire judging. Unbeknownst to us, (with any sort of update suspiciously absent from the website), the judging had been moved up by over an hour.  I heard claims of  excessive heat being the reason for this, but I can't help but wonder if they heard we were coming and decided to slide one in under the wire.



Paranoid delusional, you say?  Maybe.  Maybe not.



Greg Powell, the talented milliner who took last year's blue ribbon, wears one of my fascinators and laughs in disbelief at our crummy luck.







Fortunately we looked too good for anyone to deny us access to the judge's box, so all four of us were invited in to sip on champers and mingle with the winners.  Here is my lovely model Rachel, wearing what was intended to be my mad hatter entry  #1.  She is primarily a photographer when she's not being a good sport and wearing hats for me; in fact she took all the pictures you see on this post. Due to the heat and our massive champagne consumption that day, she feels these photos may not be up to snuff. Please check out her site: rachellynnk.com







And here I am wearing entry #2, with the fabulous Megan donning the tried and true duck wing fascinator that all the gals look great in.  I love her pose in this picture but I'm not sure what my hand signal is saying.



The mad-hatter entries were composed of hand-made visors (something I plan to expand on more for my fall line) and a swirl of fancy chicken wings, outstretched and reaching upwards.  Looking at them on our heads in photos, I already see a million things I want to change.  For a one-off experiment though, I would say I am pleased.







 



Maybe I was asking for a close-up shot of my eyelashes.  Pony lashes, to be specific.  Carson Kressley noticed them right away, maybe because they were framing my huge, sad, about-to-burst-with-tears eyes as I watched all the winners being announced and he said "Where were you?  You were late!"







 



We made our way up to the stands to watch some horse action (I guess that's why we're all really there) where we were joined Lauren St. Clair Lynch.  As gracious as ever, she only had nice things to say about my hats while we enjoyed light snacks and sipped on a creation I'd like to call a gasoline shandy.







 



Looking good:







 



Looking very, very good.  All winners in my book.







Rachel and I:







Discussing plans for Ladies Day domination next year, which include but are not limited to: camping out overnight, sprinkling tacks on all surrounding roads, and planting moth eggs in the closets of our competition.







Actually, that was Megan, a very experienced rider, giving us the scoop on side-saddle.  I never fully appreciated how difficult a skill set this is, to ride mounted with legs draped on the same side of the horse.  All I can think of is how sore the rider's back must be afterwards.  I believe the reason this method of riding originated was to protect a woman's purity, both figuratively (a woman straddling a large beast could be quite unbecoming) and literally (it was thought that her hymen would not remain in tact unless her legs were firmly shut).







As I watched these graceful ladies make their way around the course, moving seamlessly with the horses despite the intense raging heat and the added difficulty of handling everything from one side of the horse, I thought about how throughout history women have been thrown extra challenges, just because of our bodies and the fear they evoke in the opposite sex.  Foot binding, corsets, all the little hoops the fairer sex has been made to jump through (by men and women alike) that have only bred a stronger and more adept, versatile woman over time.  Try keeping an air bubble from rising up in the water; use your hands, use machines, whatever device the mind can think up, but the plain and simple fact is that the air will rise up to the top.  Time is on our side.







Did that just get weird?  Here, look at Greg, watching in awe as horses jump over a five foot tall oxer (two obstacles placed closely together).



 







Outside the fairgrounds, I turned to a tree stump for sympathy.  I'm not going to lie; I was crestfallen for the rest of the day.  It's really hard on the heart to have expectations and not meet them.



Fortunately, every day is an opportunity to be a better person then the day before, so I listen to the wise words of Aaliyah and TImbaland and motor on.







Man's best friend

I've never owned a dog, yet I feel a connection with them which compels me to stop at dog parks and slobber at the sight of the happy creatures leaping and bounding, exploding with happiness.  When a friend contacted me recently to inform  me about a friend of his whose dog had just passed, and would I be interesting in collecting the body, I jumped at the chance.  The dog, 14-year-old black and white rat terrier, died in her sleep on Saturday and I picked her up on Sunday.  It was a most unusual way to meet someone but the owner, a lovely woman with two children and a chef husband, was graceful and composed so I followed her lead.  The dog was on her deck, on ice and in a blanket.  I kept her in the bags and then loaded her into a large IKEA carrier sac for transport.  I had imagined that the specimen would be much smaller but when the weight and size of this one hit me, it became apparent I had to take a cab home.  Slouched in the back seat of a taxi, I leaned against my cargo and caught a whiff of some early decomposition odor.  Still hung over from the night before, the smell made me gag a bit and I wondered just how infuriated the driver would be if he knew what I'd brought into his car.  At moments like this it hits me, how bizarre and twisted my little world might appear from the outside.  So much of my time is spent retrieving dead things and carting them around in my messenger bag, then stashing them in my freezer.  Sometimes I wonder if there are hundreds of little ghosts drifting around the house that make my cats go bananas.  To some, I'm sure this seems sick.  However, this is my normal, and I simply forget that people might see me as a very disturbed individual until quiet times like this in which I occupy a tight space with a dead dog I've never met and a man driving  a cab who I'll most likely never meet again.



It turns out there was no room in the freezer for Pooch so I skinned her upon getting home.  The enormity of what I was about to do didn't hit me until I pulled her out of the bag.



Her collar was still on.



I started weeping and just stared at her, wondering if I could do it.  I get teary and cry a bit with almost every animal I skin, but this was different.  It was if I could feel all the love which had been poured into this creature for the last 14 years, and the profound role this four-legged little girl had had with her humans became clear.  I fondled  the paw pads a bit, imagining them padding around the wooden floor just a few days before.  I was a little bit afraid she wasn't completely dead (I always am, it's my worst fear that I'll make an initial cut and suddenly my specimen will come back to life, panicked and crazed) but the bloat in her stomach made it quite clear.  I burned some incense, said my little prayer and got to skinning.







It was an intense, emotionally wrought experience.  One interesting part was when I came across what I'm guessing is a tracking device that was implanted between the shoulder blades.  Aside from that, nothing too different from skinning a coon or a fox.  After I had the carcass completely separated, I marveled at how we're all just skins.  No one would ever recognise this naked corpse as a beloved pet.







For reference, this is a picture of the breed which I worked with.  Out of respect for the dog and her owners I chose not to take any pictures of the corpse.  I got my measurements and that's all I needed.  I hope to do her justice.



Perhaps the only nursery I'll ever feel comfortable in.

Today I was gifted with an unexpected litter of little ones while skinning what I had initially thought was just a chubby mouse.  I was splitting her open and couldn't seem to keep the guts under wraps, so to speak.  I just kind of figured I'd have a messy one on my hands and then I really looked at what was spilling from inside the carcass.  Two little fetuses!  I gasped, apologised to the mouse and left the studio to collect my thoughts.











I'm constantly surprised at what rattles me in this practice; I'm OK with death, guts, blood, gore, just about everything that comes with the territory.  This marks my first encounter with a pregnant specimen, however, and I'd be lying if I said my heart didn't break just a little bit.  I recalled finding the mama mouse on the sidewalk while on a jog through South Philly and sticking her in my spandex so I could get home and put her in the freezer.  While I ran, I speculated on the cause of death, which I assumed to be poison seeing as it had no marks and was just lying right in the middle of the concrete.



Then I thought about how I never find female specimen; I'm always skinning male mice, male squirrels, male foxes, and lamenting over how annoying it is to work around their genitalia.  I get my first female and she's a total doozy!



I collected myself and got down to business, extracting each adorable little unborn mouse from the carcass and burning sage for every one, which totaled 8.  EIGHT!  I can't believe there was room for all of them.  Most still were encased in their umbilical sacs:











I carefully freed them all from their casing and laid them all out. Each one was in just a slightly different position; some had arms outstretched while others kept their itty bitty paws crossed.  I saw what was clearly the runt of the litter, much tinier and paler than the others with an underdeveloped left foot.  I imagined the types of personalities they might've developed had they come to term, and then I thought about something a friend said to me once' about fetal positions.  I'd been remarking to her about how I constantly sleep in this one pose with my arms up and crossed behind my head, to the point of cutting off my circulation nightly.  She suggested that perhaps I'd slept like that in the womb, and the notion stuck with me.



So what am I doing, a taxidermist assigning personalities to unborn mouse fetuses?  My instructor would laugh at me if he were to read this.  The very hunters whose business I desire might wonder just why they should entrust me with their fresh kills.  Well, I guess having emotions doesn't affect my skill set.  Perhaps this experience just triggered something in me, seeing something so tiny and vulnerable that never even got a chance.  When I resumed skinning the mouse, I saw that the cause of death was a blow to the head.  Her skull was cracked and bleeding internally.  Note the dark red spot on the head:







Maybe she fell, or got hit by something, I'll never know.  But I feel honored that I was the one to find and preserve her and her family, saving them from an undignified end like rotting on the street.  I hope my honestly as far as how this experience has affected me feel doesn't rob me of any street cred, per-se, in the eyes of potential clients.  What I'd like to convey is that I understand death is a part of the way we live, I accept it, I embrace it, and I treat the dead with respect and compassion.  I think this philosophy holds true with most taxidermists; something the general public would be surprised to learn.



As I write this, I've got my litter sitting in a jar, preserving, keeping me company.  My morbid little nursery.







Next up was a baby bird, of sorts, one that deserves his own post.  More to come!  For now, I need to turn up the volume on the Bill Burr podcast I'm listening to so I can drown out the sound of what could possibly be my biological clock ticking away.

I'm Baaaaaaack.

I never made it home last weekend so I'm a tad behind on the posts.  Stay tuned; I got some juicy bombs.  In the meantime, here are my favorite songs from the mountain radio:











http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyXz6eMCj2k



Sigh....I left my heart in the Pokes.  I feel like driving a Chevy with an American flag decal and cuttin' some shit up, yet.
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