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!

"OK, who wants to snap the neck?" "ME!"

Last Saturday I hosted my first of two Philly Side Tour workshops and my rag team team of guests/students had a blast with me.  The group comprised of a decent range of backgrounds, from scultptrs to art students and cartoonists and a chef.

 I start each demo as I would skinning a specimen alone in my studio- with a blessing and ceremonial thank you to the animal, and a promise to do my best to honor its spirit.  Here I am burning sage and doing just that:

Onto the skinning.  My crew was eager to be hands-on, so I would show a little step here and there, then pass the bird around for them to take turns with various parts.  Some excelled in the peeling parts, others demonstrated fleshing quite masterfully, while one gal in particular had a flare for snapping the neck.  Turns out she was a mortuary student, go figure.

After skinning has been demonstrated and practiced, we move onto mounting.  Here is the specimen I had set aside for this workshop, a nice tanned white chicken. 

We took turns tumbling and blowing him dry before I showed them how to properly wire a form and the chicken to it. 

 After that we all washed our paws and headed in to the main room where I do all my real work.  I showed them what I was working on, projects on deck etc.  Like cow and goat skins in a pickle!

 After that everyone tried on hats and hung out for a bit, discussing this and that.  I have to say, an unexpected and much loved byproduct of my craft is the wide array of characters I get to meet.  I honestly have no idea where else I could connect with so many different and wonderful type of people at once.

The next workshops is on Saturday, July 13.  Some spots remain, reserve yours now for an unusually delightful afternoon!
Discover the Bygone Art of Taxidermy at an Artist's Workshop

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.

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