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:

No Salt on her Tail

When I was a a teenager, I fell in love with the band Mamas & Papas.  The song No Salt on her Tail was my favorite.  I've always been partial to harmonies and emotion-triggering string sounds, and I tend to memorize the lyrics of every song I like within two or three listens.
Of all the hundreds of times I've sung along with this song, though, I never understood exactly what the words "No Salt on her Tail" actually meant.  Over twenty years, later, it finally occurred to me that I could just look it up.

Turns out it's an old timey saying about putting salt on a bird's tail to catch it. The joke is, if you can get close enough to the bird to put salt on her tail, you're close enough that you may as well just grab her.  Over time it became a reference to "keeping" a woman, as in, "I'd sprinkle some salt on HER tail".
It got me thinking, as I looked this up during a time when I was still processing my grief from a divorce several years back.  
I spent an excruciating amount of time in a relationship I ought to have walked away from long before but was too terrified to, for myriad reasons.  Despite being raised by progressive parents with a feminist bent and presenting as a tough, independent free thinker, I had it in my head from an early age that marriage was the end goal.  The status symbol to the world that would show I'd arrived, now I was fully realized.  I would finally be a woman.  This speaks volumes about my inner turmoil as a child into teen into young adult about feeling feminine, and whether or not I was doing it right.  I never identified with any of the girls in magazines or even the the ones in my school.  I was horrified by my pubescent body and buried it under a series of baggy clothes and distracting hair styles.
But maybe...if I found my Prince Charming, and got married, then it would be like a spell lifting and I'd be a REAL woman...not unlike Pinocchio becoming a real boy.
All this is to say that I rushed into marriage blindly and a bit forcibly.  And as anyone who has been in a long term relationship knows, it's not all it's cracked up to be.

Despite being handed to key to unlock my self-imposed bear trap and walk out multiple times by my then husband, (the last time he practically served it to me on a silver platter with a steaming side of "NOW'S YOUR CHANCE"), I instead chose to slowly and painfully gnaw my own own foot off over an embarrassingly long period of time.  I struggled to wrap my mind around the fact that I could feel so certain about something, about someone...and then feel differently over time. It seemed impossible to me that feelings weren't static.  I felt completely betrayed by my own heart.
In the song, they describe a bird who can just fly away, no salt on her tail, no cares to make her stay. I feel connected to this sentiment in that I believe to the world outside our marriage and our home, it did appear that way. Intimate relationships to me are extremely personal and private; I'm not of the generation or mindset who feels comfortable airing that laundry on social media or even in casual conversation (at least not while I'm experiencing it).  It was months before I started telling even my closest friends that something was very, very wrong.  But when you work so hard to put up a front that says to the world that "everything is fine, nothing to see here, business as usual"...it can lead to assumptions on the part of those outside the situation.  Such as, that I flew away from a significant relationship with no cares to make me stay and left a very hurt person in my wake. 

For the sculpture, I had envisioned a mounted starling poised for flight just on the edge of something.  Her tail is missing a decent amount of its feathers and taking off will be a challenge.  She's leaving behind chunks of herself, literally, under a pile of salt that she pulled and struggled to free herself from.
The only unresolved bit was the surface, as in, what would all this be taking place on?  A tile?  A piece of wood?  It had to be something meaningful.  Then, at work, I was digging through a pile of antique books and found this gem: "The Girl Today, the Woman Tomorrow." It was a handbook written for adolescent girls in 1932.  Inside are instructions on everything that could concern a young woman such as what to wear for any event, how to properly introduce your parents to your teacher,  employment options (sales girl!  Operator!), how to eat any food (corn on the cob is to be eaten with one hand only!  Chips may be consumed with two fingers or a fork).

Reading through this book I was at once furious and sympathetic.  Nothing inspires rage in me faster than being told what to do with my body. However, I often struggle with my conflicting emotions in regard to "traditional" gender roles.  There is plenty in this book about who does what for whom in the typical cis-gendered hetero romantic relationship.  I adore the feeling of being cared for, like when my husband (I remarried in a heartbeat, but that's another story) insists on taking the bulk of whatever grocery bags we are carrying, or hauls out the heavy recycling bin for me each week.  Once upon a time I felt like this would be insinuating that I wasn't capable of doing things for myself, but now I see it as a gesture of love.  When he is returning from a work trip out of town I take great pleasure in making sure the bed is nicely made and the house smells pleasant and welcoming. And I've settled into it quite comfortably.
All this is to say that navigating one's role as a woman in this world can be a real mind-fuck for some of us, and a breeze for others.  While I cannot stand being told what to do, I still feel like I somehow missed out on the course instructing me how to "be a woman".  Now, approaching my fourth decade on earth, I think I'm finally grasping it.  I just wish someone had told me when I was twelve, or twenty, or even thirty that I wasn't supposed to look or feel like the gazelle-legged, long torso having, blissed-out models in those shitty vapid teen magazines.  
All I had to do was look and feel like me.

Upon all this reflection I have learned, as far as interpersonal relationships go, that in this intricate and beautiful tapestry of shared experiences on our planet sometimes your role is to be the one weaving pain into the life of someone else, to be their bad guy.  Other times it's your turn to get hurt.  Either way you both keep growing and advancing along your path. And thankfully, even the most uncomfortable feelings will pass.
It is for this reason I chose to use a starling for this piece.  They are regarded as an invasive species, destroying crops and making homes out of any piece of human property they please.  They mimic the calls of other birds to lure them out of their nests so that they may sneak in and evict them, destroying their eggs in the process if necessary.  On the surface and as a whole they are widely seen as selfish, cold, unfeeling and willing to do just about anything in the name of self preservation- the very things I was accused of as I did my best to gracefully and quietly untangle myself from the ties of my first marriage (albeit in reality it was quite clumsy).
On the flip side, Starlings are extremely intelligent.  Could a dim-witted fowl be capable of such villainy?Also, have you ever seen a Starling murmuration in person?  It's truly breathtaking.  No animal can be completely shitty while being capable of creating something like this:

I suppose all this is to say that human nature (and animal nature) can be vile and magnificent.  Just be willing to see both sides.

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