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:



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!

Vintage Post: My First Tan (the good the bad and the hairless).

In an attempt to empty out my freezer stock to make room for what I'm anticipating to be a mother load of fresh specimen next week, I've been skinning, fleshing and processing hides like a maniac.  I do all my own tanning in studio, and while I have occasionally err on the side of awful,(fortunately never with a client's hide, always my own where I attempt to bend the  rules.  I should know by now that science is unyielding when it comes to these kinds of rules),  99% of the time I've gotten quality tanned hides that stand the test of time.  Even my brain tans hold up, but wearer beware- you will smell like a campfire for the first five months of enjoying your furry garment.
As I salted a raccoon hide today I fondly remembered the first raccoon I ever did, fresh out of taxidermy school back in 2010.  I wrote about it and you can see the blog post below.  The coon was (and still is) a grand success, the deer was doomed from the start.  I made too many mistakes from the very beginning.  Thankfully I make most of my mistakes on practice pieces.  It's nice to look back and see how far I've come.  I can't believe I was able to make my little podunk operation work out of a 100 sq foot room in my house back then.
Note for home tanners: I used a product for these two hides that McKenzie no longer offers, much to my dismay.  I have settled on their house brand of tanner as it's basically just as good.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Adventures in Home Tanning

Most taxidermist send their hides to a tannery; it makes sense when the skins start piling up and the work looks daunting.  Plus, home tanning takes time and effort.  I figured I only have a couple of green hides though so I'd try it myself.



The process takes about three days, and I diligently checked and stretched my raccoon and deer cape each day at the same time.  The coon skin, being thinner, took less time and I was exceptionally pleased with the final result:







Here he is, drying out in our bathtub.  This situation right here has me convinced that I will have to employ a professional tanner in the future, as my house is tiny and the bathtub meant for people.







Here's the deer cape drying out the next day.  Unfortunately, I must've skinned it after some bacteria had taken up residence, because the fur was coming out in clumps.  I was somewhat beside myself seeing as this was the first deer I'd skinned all by myself and I was really gunning for a A+ hide, so I shoved it in the freezer for me to take out and deal with another time.







At least the raccoon was a success.  I taxied the skin onto the form; it's in a climbing position with some tight corners.  Sewing was definitely a challenge.  Here's his face, all pinned and carded up for drying.  This is a piece commissioned to me by my husband and he requested a mischievous sort of creature in the midst of a getaway after a bank heist.  I turned the lip up just a liiiiitle bit to indicate a grin, and the $ bag is almost done and ready to be attached to one of his little paws.







I spent about an hour blow-drying the fur; it seemed to take forever. But he dried very well and is hanging in my studio.  Today I will touch up his face and finish him.  Updates to come.

Tell Frankie I Said Hi: Secret 1st episode!

My amazing friend Carmen was gracious enough to let me interview her about being preggers for my first ever podcast, and she bore with me thorugh the bumps and whatnot.  After I get a little better at this podcasting process I'll get this operation up on itunes but for now I'm using soundcloud and this first one is on Podbean.  It's neat to hear Carm's pregant past self from a few weeks ago now that she's a new mom.   Give a listen, won't you?
CLICK HERE FOR EPISODE 1 OF TELL FRANKIE I SAID HI



This Chicken was Skinned in Front of a Live Studio Audience.



















I recently teamed up with The Wagner Free Institute and author Rachel Poliquin for a Philadelphia Science Fest event called Skinned, Stuffed and Mounted in which Rachel gave a presentation on the history of taxidermy and America's current obsession with it, and I skinned a chicken while discussing the actual nuts and bolts of taxidermy.

 From the Wagner website advertising the event:
Rachel Poliquin
Rachel Poliquin is a writer and curator dedicated to exploring all things orderly and disorderly in the natural world. Most recently, her work has focused on the cultural history of taxidermy. She is the author of The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing (Penn State Press, 2012) and ravishingbeasts.com. Her museum work includes “Ravishing Beasts: The Strangely Alluring World of Taxidermy” at the Museum of Vancouver and the permanent Vertebrate exhibits at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. She is currently writing a book about beavers for the Reaktion Book’s Animal series.
Beth Beverly
Philadelphia’s premiere rogue taxidermist, Beth Beverly specializes in wearable taxidermy. Her hats have won awards at the Devon Horse Show, Brandywine Polo and Radnor Hunt Clubs. Her work has been featured in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, plus galleries such as La Luz de Jesus, Art in the Age, and Michael Vincent Gallery. In 2010 Beverly won "Best in Show" at the annual Carnivorous Nights competition in New York. Currently featured as an "Immortalizer" on AMC's series about competitive taxidermy, she relishes in being photographed wearing her work and defying common stereotypes of taxidermists.
The Philadelphia Science Festival is a citywide collaboration showcasing science and technology every April. Part of a national movement to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, it builds on Philadelphia’s rich history of innovation with dozens of events at museums, universities and neighborhood libraries. Learn more at PhilaScienceFestival.org.
The Festival is funded in-part by the National Science Foundation and presented by The Dow Chemical Company.

  The Science Festival was a truly fantastic thing to be a part of; I come from a science-heavy family and it's nice to remind people that art and science do not exist exclusively of one another.Here's Rachel, demonstrating her well-polished public speaking technique:


And here's one of the slides from her book. Is was great to watch her presentation; her voice has an entrancing quality to it and her vocabulary is outstanding- a quality I hope to emulate.




Yours truly, getting started.  It's peculiar; I adore being the center of attention and commanding a room, being in front of the camera, etc...yet before I ever get on stage or do anything like this, my hands start to shake and my knees literally get weak.   I'm starting to think this will always happen and never go away, and I'm also starting to think it's not the symptom of me being a scared little girl.



It's my body getting terribly and uncontrollably excited because it knows something very wonderful and fulfilling is about to happen.  I'm good at this, and my body knows it, more than my mind.

If you know me, you know that before I commence skinning any specimen I say a prayer of thanks and burn sage.  The kind folks at the Wagner Institute were considerate enough to let me practice my ritual despite the many ancient and flammable artifacts in that auditorium.


Skinning, and taking questions:

I can't tell you how cool it was for me to work in front of a large projection of myself working.  I think part of my ego exploded a little bit.  I had to force myself to not turn around and look at the screen-it's like catching yourself on a security camera and being completely mesmerized.  My hands were shaking so badly that I actually nicked my finger with the knife and started bleeding, but it apparently wasn't as obvious as it felt.  For all they knew it was chicken blood.












So obviously the event was a success.  It felt great to be part of something that was such a great fit for all involved.  The dream continued next morning when I had the honor of in-studio guesting on a program I have listened to every day for years, Radio Times.  Meeting Mart Moss-Coane was just fucking keen, pardon my French-not-French.  If you missed it or would just like to hear us speaking in hushed tones about all things taxidermy, listen here: Radio Times

From the Radio Times website:
Guests: Rachel Poliquin, Beth Beverly
Walk into any natural history museum and you’ll see the animal dioramas – lions prowling the African veldt, a herd of buffalo on an American prairie, a polar bear towering over a dead seal.  And, in hunting lodges, and even home décor, an animal's head might be mounted on the wall.   For years people have stuffed and mounted animals to display as science, art or a trophy.   This hour, we explore the history and art of taxidermy with RACHEL POLIQUIN, curator and the author of “The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing” and BETH BEVERLY, a taxidermist and artist and owner of Diamond Tooth Taxidermy in Philadelphia.


After the Wagner workshop (like a week later, not literally after) , I hosted a group  of mature adults all belonging to a crwew called Mystery Club. 
 

The Mystery Club is in its 30th year of existence and what they do is have an adventure every month that is a complete surprise to all involved except the two who plan it.  This month's organizer, who chartered Diamond Tooth for the day, told me about the first ever excursion they had where a van picked them all up, drove them to NYC where they were instructed to climb up a fire escape and into a building where they were fitted with armored costumes and thrust out onto stage as background characters at the MET for an opera.  I cannot tell you, after hearing this story, how honored I was to have my lil' old taxidermy shop count as a notch in these folks' belts. 
I skinned this chicken in front of them while fielding questions. The only snag was that one woman turned out to be deathly allergic to feathers and had to wait outside the building the entire 2 hours.  I've never wished harder that Kensington wasn't just a little more scenic.


After the skinning demo, I invited everyone to paw through my wares and try on hats. See this Audrey Hepburn looking gal?  Just an hour before this picture was taken she was emphatically declaring that there was no way on earth anyone would ever catch her with a dead bird on her head:


It feels so good to help people open their mind to new things.  Is she not the perfect model for this hat?


Another winner:




My favorite quote of the day: "For the golf course!" (have I told you how much I adore these people?):


And so begins a new road down the path of workshopping.  I have more events scheduled and will be writing more soon; if you've ever wanted a behind the scenes, hands-on experience with taxidermy and animal preservation, here is your opportunity.  It's a dream come true for me to combine a craft that I'm truly passionate about with performing, in a sense.  I promise all who attend, a wonderful and dreamy experience.









Squirt.

This morning I was skinning a duck in preparation for a taxidermy demonstration I'll be giving on Saturday.  I plan on having some finished mounts as well as a cured skin to show various stages in the process.  Sounds fine right?  Except it's for children.  Children terrify me.  Last night I was envisioning speaking to them and I cringed at myself as I lay in bed, marveling at what a nerd these kids will think I am.   I was a kid once, and I know first hand they are cruel, and nothing people over the age of thirty do could ever be cool.



Wait, WHY do I care what a bunch of children think of me?  I guess at the end of the day I don't.  Amway, I'm thinking about all this as I skin my duck, and I'm at the head. I'm angling my brain-spoon around the back of the eye sockets to free the eyeball and SQUIRT!  A stream of black eyeball juice lands upon my shirt, my arm, my face, MY EYE.  I have duck eye juice in my human eyeball. This was the first time I popped one, and I never knew how inky the liquid is.  I wonder if it could be used as dye?







After cleaning up that mess I was able to focus on the task at hand, only to find a very broken wing.  Break one, humerus bone:







Break two, radius and ulna:







It's not really that big of a deal when wings are shattered like this but it does pose a challenge when skinning.  It's relatively easy to use the whole arm for leverage when working the skin off, but when the arm is just a pile of mush there isn't much to hold onto.



Thankfully I had my studio mascot there to keep me company while I worked.







Ever since I cleaned my studio and organised it in a fashion which is conducive to how I work, it's been a nonissue having the cats around. Frankie sometimes manages to sniff out any mouse tidbits I have hiding around but aside from that he doesn't care to get into the other animals.  It's very pleasant to have him sleeping at my feet in his little patch of sun while I work.



This is my newly cleaned studio.  It may look cluttered but I have a ton of stuff in a very small space.  Amazingly, everything has a home and I know where it lives.







Work table and mini freezer:







Supply shelving, windows, and Frankie!









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