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:



VINTAGE POST: MY FIRST DOG

My orders for pet preservation always seem to come in flurries, and I'm in the midst of one right now. Since I've reached double digits in terms of the number of dogs & cats (and a couple exotic pets!) that I've worked with, I thought I would reflect back on my very first one, Elke, who not only was a delight to work with but won me several accolades over the years,
Just so you know, it never gets easier, emotionally.

 

 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

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.



VINTAGE POST: LADIES TEA & HAT COMPETITION AT DEVON


Devon Horse Show LaYDEEEES day: 2012 edition

Early Wednesday morning my friend Mearah swung by to primp and prep for our first Ladies Tea at Devon. Neither of us had attended such an event but thankfully it was the first one of its kind  so all of us were excited about having no expectations.  Upon arrival we’d be meeting my other friends Beth, Claudia and Sharilyn who all were kind enough to be my hat models for the day.  We arrived in time for the contest and “parade” and while Caron Kressley was not in attendance (he did so adore my duck hat from 2010, poo) I managed to hit it off with Bill Henley who made for a great consolation prize.  We paraded ourselves in front of the judges and Diamond Tooth emerged victorious, placing fourth among excellent company.
Image from the magnificent Susan Scovill
I of course chose to wear an entire Guinea Hen on my head which, being the most in-season option my butcher could provide, made for a sensational dinner as well as a fun hat.
photo by Brenda Carpenter, http://brendacarpenter.com/
You will see this same hen make a guest appearance in a few weeks as part of a short video profile about taste makers in Philadelphia: she was a dream to work with.  Absolutely no drama.   But I digress.  I fasbricated some new, and sourced some classics for the rest of my gal pals ranging from tastefully conservative to somewhat more exotic.  When I’m not crafting my own hat bases for my pieces, I pair up antique hats gifted to me or sourced from flea markets that I collect.  Along with all the trinkets I collect from the street, it’s profoundly rewarding to marry up materials after having held onto them so long.  Of course, what I’m doing is certainly nothing new or that shocking- I just hope that I can do the legacy of high society ladies from the late 1800s justice with my interpretation of their taxidermy hat fashion. I do understand that taxidermy is not for everyone, as I’ve said many times.  How boring would the world be if we all had the same tastes?  Lucky for me I was in the presence of some classy, kind and open-minded ladies.
Thank you Susan Scovill!
As you can see, my ladies and I had a great time.  Beth, on the left, is wearing the Prairie Chicken Hat from my website while Claudia sports a gorgeous Bantam rooster saddle mounted on a vintage brown velvet beret.  Next is Mearah with a rehabbed vintage blue cap with a rooster wing and glass charms affixed to it. I couldn’t find any shots of all of us together but here is Sharylinn (below, center) wearing a fascinator I made from (tada!) more Guinea hen feathers and some antique cage veiling.  It’s hard to see but some rooster tail feathers are peeking out here and there as well, plus assorted gems:

After we did a little winners’ photo trot, the whole gaggle of us headed across the grounds to the Ladies’ tea, of which my friend Jen McGowen did a sensation job planning.  I was actually on the planning committee with a dozen or so other women, but spreading the word and promotion was about the extent of my planning.  Jen seemed to shoulder the bulk of managing this event with the grace and panache of the Fresian horses I was drooling over later that same day.   Once under the tent we ran into some old friends and made new ones.  I was making every attempt to visually memorize all the beautiful dresses and shoes I saw:
Again, thank you Susan Scovill
I could sit and watch pretty ladies, dressed up and socializing for hours.  Sometimes I still feel slightly intimidated as my financial status does not allow me to dress in much aside from second-hand or hand-made, but seeing as one cannot buy style, it levels the playing field for me a bit.  Not like I needed it: these ladies are all so kind and friendly and sociable it just makes for a truly enjoyable and uplifting experience.  It warms the cockles of my heart to see a great group of women from assorted backgrounds coming together to not only sip champagne and nibble cucumber sammies (my FAVE) but also to simply enjoy each other, our health, and how amazing life is that it allowed us to spend such a luxurious morning together.  Just look at these happy faces!  I kind of fell in love with the three ladies in cream in the left of this photo.  I didn’t actually learn their names but they were a dream team.
Photo from Constant Contact
After the tea wrapped up, a few of us stayed back to soak up some pony action.  Ladies side-saddle is a perennial favorite of mine to watch, and this year I caught some of the Fresian dressage (I could be wrong and probably am- it looked kind of like dressage but not quite.  The riders wore top hats and brightly colored coats, and in one event the horses pulled them in little chariots!).  Of course I need to bone up of my pony facts but I do absorb a thing or two from other spectators who are generous enough to share their knowledge with me.  Example: there is an entire industry which manufactures hair extensions for horses!

Triumphant!

I have returned from Brooklyn a winner...in so many ways.  The entire two day experience was a blast, the crowning moment obviously being when I was presented the title "Best in Show" at the Carnivorous Nights taxidermy contest.  The evening was a cavalcade of awesome, however, beginning with arriving at the venue and peeking at the other entries.  I felt very timid and nervous, not having any idea how this whole thing was to go down, and lying on the presentation table backstage were some pieces that I would embarrassingly refer to many times that night as "stiff competition".  (Could've been the one too many cocktails to steel my nerves or my complete lack of wit, take your pick).



Melissa Milgrom, author of Still life, adventures in taxidermy, opened up the evening with a brief chat and I was hanging on her every word.  Even though I'd read the book and all that she described was somewhate familliar to me, I always admire a decent public speaker.



Mike Zohn, host of Discovery Channel's new show "Oddities" was the key-note speaker and I loathe to admit that his speech was lost on me because at that point my nerves were starting to get the best of me.  My hands were shaking and I was trying to go over my presentation in my head while fighting off the near-crippling fear that I would say something stupid. Thankfully I was seated next to my dear friend Thea who brought her recording equipment and was producing a piece about the event.  I look forward to listening to her material so I can refresh myself on what I may have missed. Behind me was Daisy Tainton, who I traded quips with throughout the evening.  She specialises in insects and snark.  Seriously, her presentation has me spraying red wine out my nose.  In fact, I found most of the contestants to be quick with a joke and very humorous.  I, on the other hand, was possibly just the right combination of awkward, sad and sweet.



Here I am describing my first entry, Elke 2.0.  She was the beloved rat terrier to a local Philadelphia family for 14 years before she passed recently in her sleep.  I spoke of getting the call from a friend about the friend I was about to meet, and my trepidatious handling of the manner.  Basically what I tried to convey (and I believe reached everyone present) is my undying, unconditional love for animals and my goal to treat them with utmost respect after death. It was slightly emotional.







 



Next to Elke 2.0 is Grazyana, a Polish hen which belonged to another friend of mine.   I buy fresh eggs from him whenever they're available and this little gal didn't make it to laying age.  She was petite and so special; I imagined her as a Princess Bride.







 



On my head is a piece composed of a Selama hen, also a donation from my chicken master pal.  I basically mounted her in a position which would hug her to my scalp, with a wing fashionablly covering one side.  Lately I've been inspired by the beauty of feathers and how the dermis can be manipulated into different positions which accentuate this natural beauty.  I'm enjoying the attempt to mount creatures in ways that would not be found in nature.







 



 



Winner!  I went out to celebrate with my gracious hosts that night and celebrated until 3am.  I woke up exhausted but still elated.  Thankfully that elation stayed with me, through my ten block walk down 7th ave (after getting dropped off at Penn Station instead of 42nd street) while clutching a giant trophy and 3 foot long box of taxidermy sculpture, as well as my navigation of the Broad Street line and subsequent walk home from the station.







There were several impressive write-ups covering the event including a piece in the NY Times, and the Wall Street JournalDrew Anthony Smith is a photographer I met who took some really terrific pictures of the event several blogs covered the night's festivities quite nicely.  I suggest reading these (Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire, Pink Slip, Stars and Garters, Big Bad Bald Bastard, to name a few) for more coverage on the other contestants since every entry was fantastic and I'm only telling my own story here.
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