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:



Mrs. Friendly

Oh, hello there:


 Meet Mrs. Friendly, the much loved pet chicken of a client who wished to have her immortalized.


 Apparently, Mrs. Friendly was an ornery, no nonsense hen with an intense glare.  She suffered no fools.


 She also had asymmetrical hips, with a pronounced hump above her right hip bone/back area.  I'm guessing this may have caused a limp which must have only added to her cranky old lady aura.

 I altered a manufactured bird form by adding foam to the back section and carving it to match the size and shape of the hump as seen on the carcass, and posed the body to recreate her gimpy stance as exactly as possible, using photographs from life as reference.


 Hump:



 Don't mess with this chick lady hen.







So long, Mrs. Friendly.  Enjoy the afterlife.



Speechless





 I mounted my dream creature recently, a peacock.  Here he is, just photos, because who needs words when your eyes are being massaged by this regal creature?


































Vetabrae Necklace

I've been in possession of a bag of fox vertebrae for some time now; about a year ago I articulated a few with the intention of making a cool neck piece.  I finally finished it today.

Once I'd decided the exact design, I needed to source the beads and hardware.  The beads are glass and I wore them all around my wrists for a week to infuse them with my own energy and also because glass beads around my wrists feel so good.


 This necklace is meant for a long dainty neck, as you can see in these photos its a wee snug on me.  Perhaps there is a young elfin lass who this piece is calling out to?





 The clasp is a no frills, magnetic slide:
 Magic.

C'est Tout!

Hawk Eye


In what has been a long an arduous process (not for me, really, all I had to do was sit back and wait) the folks at Bartram's Gardens acquired a Federal Salvage Permit so that I could become their on call taxidermist for such fantastic specimen as the Sharp Shinned Hawk I'm writing about today, a sweet little Vireo and above all, a Great Blue Heron.  The Heron was the impetus for obtaining my services and the permit, but these birds came with the territory, so to speak.
Because I'd never mounted a hawk or a heron, and this is for educational purposes, and I just plain adore Bartram's Gardens I am providing taxidermy services for free and just ask that my supplies are covered.
Even so, I don't feel any less flat about my lackluster job on this hawk.  I did the best I could but what I didn't realise going in was that while structurally these birds are very similar to the hundreds of feathered specimen I've skinned and mounted over my years as a taxidermist, their feathers have a texture and lay pattern unlike anything I'd ever encountered.  I ought to have done more research.



You can see that instead of a tight, compact aerodynamic shape, his feathers look a little ragged, like he just took a roll in the hay or something.  I rehydrated him, used pins to painstakingly place every feather that wouldn't lay flat, wrapped him in hosiery and heat dried him (which has worked wonders for me on other misfit birds) to no avail.  After 6 months it's time for me to accept that I can't win them all.  And it's not terrible.  Just not perfect. 
 

 I am quite pleased with the feet though.  What gorgeous talons he has!  I guess I can't take credit for that, but I can for the positioning.
 The camera in untrained hands yields odd photos; I like how the flash kind of implies motion though.


 I've started noticing these hawks around Philly since I began working with this one.  They're such majestic creatures.  I was waiting for a bus out near the airport one morning, super early, as the dawn was just throwing open her closet and letting the blue spill out onto the sky, and saw one Sharpie sitting on a telephone wire.  Suddenly another flew out of nowhere and perched next to the first one, on the line.  I imagined them exchanging pleasantries and discussing what they might catch to eat that day, how yesterday's hunt had been, where some baby squirrels might be at, etc...
 And I took comfort in this fantasy conversation between the two hawks, thinking well, if they live hand to mouth and are never quite sure where their next meal is coming from, but confident nonetheless in their ability to acquire it, what's so wrong with an artist like me who is perpetually in the throes of of financial insecurity? 
Did I just pull the curtain back too much?  This is quite a revealing post. Back to the bird.
 So yeah, you can see the flaws, but I think he still looks quite regal.  It certainly has been an honor working with him.  The Blue Heron is on deck now, and believe me when I say I'm doing my research and planning every step with extreme focus and care.


Chichi

Meet chichi, a pet preservation project I recently completed after about 7 painstaking months.  I believe she is a Pyrrhura Conure breed, but will gladly accept corrections.  Her human was quite distraught when she brought her to me, and spoke very little English to boot.  What I could tell is that this bird wasn't in great shape.  I know very little about the world of keeping birds as pets other than it's a high maintenance labor of love.  These little bundles of love can develop all sorts of ailments, and it seemed this one had plucked out just about every feather within beak's reach.  She was also in her early thirties so perhaps feathers fall out with age as well, I can't say.  I am not even a novice, let alone an expert.

bald tail area

What I am is a passionate people and animal lover with an unparalleled work ethic.  A shrewd business person would have turned this project away because the profit margin is basically nil after all the hours spent bringing the animal back to a presentable state, but once my heart takes over, my emptypockets are left to flap in the wind. 
I mounted the bird and put her aside for a few months while I worked on other pieces.  All the while, she playfully glared at me, bald and pathetic.  I scoured etsy, ebay and online taxidermy forums for feathers to no avail.  The large colorful primary wing feathers seem easy to come by but what I really needed were the tiny green neck and belly feathers, among others.
Then the universe does what it always does when I am patient with it, and while a client was dropping off her coyote recently she glanced over at Chichi and said, "oh, my parents have that same bird.  It's always shedding.  I'll see if they can hook you up".  A week later a ziplock baggie full of all the feathers I need arrives in the mail.  Perfection.

Here is her filled in belly and armpit, which were previously bald.



(before)
 



another bald tail shot:


Her one wing was very crudely clipped so I positioned her with that one tucked and the other outstretched, head cocked to the side in a playful way.

I realise that she isn't perfect, there is still some thinness of feathers on her head, but I poured all I had into this little girl who is so close in age to me, and this is what I got.  I know how if feels to be a little rough around the edges but loved regardless.


Now she just needs to go home! Take flight, sweet Chichi!

Windsor

Meet Windsor, a 120 pound Akita who was the apple of a couple (probably more but I only met the two) humans' eyes.  When his time came to pass into the next dimension, they wanted to do something with the absolutely stunning coat he left behind, and that's where I come in.

Thia is actually my second pet preservation dog-hide-turned-rug commission, but my first employing the services of an industrial tannery.  My workload has reached the point that I can no longer tan everything in-house, and hand staking a hide to reach the level of suppleness you see in these photos is beyond cost-ineffective and insanely time consuming. 
So I ceded a portion of the workload (a significant step for anyone who knows me and my history of control issues) to a professional tanner and I couldn't be happier with the results.  I also got some rabbit hides done that I'll post about later.  For now though, just look at this magnificent beauty:


 That's a size 12 Men's cowboy boot to scale:
 



 He drapes like a dream!

 I think this is a fantastic alternative to getting a full life size mount in terms of pet preservation, and am happy to offer it on the regular starting now.  I know my client is happy; she looked perfectly natural with him draped around her as we spoke outside on this freezing, bitter night.  Her darling Windsor keeping her warm even in his afterlife.

 
Bye!



 


Here is a pair of goat hoof candle holders I made about a year ago; they're one of the first pairs I constructed, and I consider them prototypes in a way.  You can see they have a slightly awkward standing angle and require museum wax to safely hold a candle and remain in grounded to the table.  I have since then developed new techniques in how I mount the hooves to rectify this.
They have recently come back to me after being part of a several months long exhibit at the Ward Museum in Maryland, and have also shown at Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.  I just now got around to photographing them.  I don't have much else to say other then they are for sale, and I am have about four other pairs in the works.
Enjoy!











Saints and Frizzles


 Meet Saint B Jo Frizzle, a sweet little frizzle Serama chicken I mounted with no idea whatsoever of what his fate would be.  Then I sat down one afternoon, fell into the zone and it all came together. 














  I mounted him in a one legged balance pose atop the base of an antique candle holder, and instinctively went right to the "religious stuff" container in my accoutrement cubby to grab this Catholic relic I've been holding onto for thirty five years or so.
Its a piece of bone from Saint B. Jo. Neumann, a Philadelphia Bishop who founded the first Diocesan Catholic school and was cherished for his ability to take confession in just about any language (His masked and decayed corpse can be viewed currently in the St Peter Apostle Parish on 5th & Girard).  I have always thought this charm was kind of cool and yet it has sat in one drawer or another over the years, unused and underappreciated.


It was a gift to me when I was baptized and while I appreciate the sentiment of passing on a precious relic from one generation to another, I find more significance in incorporating pieces like this into works of art, marrying them with another object to give them new life and new meaning. 
And Lil Frizzle here was silently telling me that he wanted to hold onto this charm for eternity.  So I gave it to him, all the while thinking of a friend/client whom I knew was coming in later that week to find just the right gift for her beau. 

I don't know him very well but I fell into one of those great mental zones where the brain just cedes to the hands and heart and hours later, voila!  She stopped by, approved, and off he went just like that, to go live in his new home.
I've also been working on getting my combs to be a bit more translucent and lifelike.  Ta-Da!

Lamb Fetus Hat, proper.

 I finally got around to shooting my lamb fetus hat, now that it's back from Maryland. Unfortunately I had some issues with the flash and I'm not a very skilled photographer so the pictures are somewhat lackluster.  I'm still sewing the lining into it, which I'll post photos of later, with these, when I list the piece on etsy. For now, though, I wanted to share this very special little gem with you.




























Pheasant: It's what's on your wall and my plate!


Here's a fun trophy mount I just finished for a new father & son hunting duo; the son harvested this gorgeous pheasant and wanted to preserve it.


 It goes without saying that I of course dined on pheasant for the next few days.  Then, fueled properly on bird juice, I set to mounting this creature.  Please forgive these photos; I waited until the client was literally in the parking lot of my shop to get around to shooting and the process was somewhat rushed.  The flash actually kind of makes the first photo look a bit like an action shot, right?
Right?


 I went with an open winged descent pose to display the full color and texture range of his feathers:




 The shot destroyed the tip of his beak and left several of his lil pheasant toes dangling from their foot source, so some restoration was required.


Ta-Da!



 Another oddly lit shot:


 Rearish view:
Not much else to say; client was pleased and so am I. 

I am aiming to really step up my technical game this year, and achieve complete realisation of the designs my head spins of dream taxidermy mounts.  I treasure commissioned jobs like this pheasant, the squirrels I just wrote about and pet preservation because it allows me the work to pursue my more artistic and far-out endeavors.
 I have grand visions for 2014; here's to ambition!

-Insert Giddyup noise here-

Here's a Christmas commission I just finished right under the wire:

 Two squirrels, anthropomorphically posed, giving each other  double finger guns.  Is there a term for it?  If so I don't know it.  Anyway, here are two bad ass squirrels (both dudes) who now live on the mantel on some folks in Media who are quite dear to me.

 The positioning for these two was more difficult than I'd anticipated; the forms I sourced from McKenzie had to be altered significantly.  Here's one in progress:


And in case you were wondering, of course I ate the squirrels.  Here's what a cleaned out squirrel carcass looks like for those who don't already know.  This is eviscerated and ready to cook:


I've been working on achieving the most convincingly life like qualities in my mounts lately, and to position these guys in such an unnatural fashion was extremely difficult for me.  I kept looking at their hands, shaking my head and thinking that it just didn't look right. 


 But seeing as squirrels don't have opposing thumbs, I suppose a slight suspension of disbelief is required when it comes to anthropomorphic taxidermy.




 They were unveiled on Christmas day and the recipient is quite happy from what I hear.



I'm just kicking myself now, looking at these photos, because I ought to have had them winking! Dangit.  Hindsight.  Maybe next time.  Until then, Giddyup!



Tyrone

Meet Tyrone.
He is the very beloved member of a family in Ohio; his human contacted me over a year ago when she thought an other one of her dogs was on the verge of passing, however that pup recovered but then months later she reached out to me with the sad news that Tyrone had passed.



We made arrangements to have him shipped from his home to my studio, packed in a cooler with dry ice.  The little guy arrived safe and sound, and actually took several days to thaw out enough for me to begin any sort of work on him.


Tyrone was famous for his robust rear end.  It had a zip code of its own, I was informed.
And goodness, did it.  It's almost like someone fused two loaves of bread to this guy's backside.  Needless to say she wanted him in a pose that emphasized this physical attribute.
This was by far the most specialised form I've ever had to make; I made a mold of the actual head from his carcass, and made a cast of it, then went about adding copious amounts of bulk and adjustments to a prefab grey fox form I purchased online.





Tyrone had gotten some sort of surgery before he passed; the stitches were still so fresh when I got him that they didn't stay in the skin.  I did my best to recreate them on his chest as they were in life.  I think he may have died due to complications from this operation but I'm not sure.  I tend to let the humans give me this kind of information; most times the cause of death is simple old age.

That rump!



I don't do this for all my clients but I felt like Tyrone's human would appreciate a baculum charm made from his penis bone.  I threw it in as a thank you for her patience. 
 Thankfully she understood and appreciated the gesture.  And also didn't mind all the assorted animal hair in the jewelry box I sent it in!

So that's Tyrone.  He was a significant project for me and had a large presence in my studio.  It will feel a little empty without him for a while.


ORKA


 http://thefarmershusband.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/img_0815.jpg


This is Orka, the beloved sheep of my dear friends Bailey and Thomas who write on the blog The Farmer's Husband. 
She passed away during a complicated pregnancy; you can read all about it here.
If you are at all familiar with me or my work, you know I source almost all my specimen from this farm.  They take their work very seriously, just as I do, and do their best to be sure all their animals travel through life and death with the dignity and respect they deserve.

This past weekend my two favorite farmers in the whole world got married, and as a gift I mounted Orka for them.  Here's her horns on the sheep form I got from Mckenzie's:

Since she had to be put down via shotgun shot to the head, there were some realignment issues when it came to anchoring the horns to the form.  I did my best.  There were also some alterations I had to make since this is the form of a different breed of sheep.

 

That's what skin looks like when it's initially put over the form, in case you are not a taxidermist and were wondering.


And this is what it looks like after the skin is lined up, stapled, sewn, pinned, poked and coaxed into place.  Taxied, if you will, hence the term "taxidermy".


And now I'm feeling the rush of cold blood coursing through my head and down to my fingertips as I realise I have been spelling this creature's name wrong THE ENTIRE TIME. So that there above is her name, misspelled.    My husband Jim sanded and stained two pieces of reclaimed wood with a walnut ink he made himself from black walnuts.  He also did the hand painted lettering of her name.  I told him to spell it that way.
I am so mortified.


I included a plaid woven scarf since her head was cut off a bit close to the face and I wanted to have a long neck coming out from the plaque.  Also, it just looks really nice.
My apologies for the not so well lit and scant photos; we took them at an ungodly hour in the morning before hitting the road to get up to the farm for wedding prep.  This is why I should never rush.  It just doesn't suit me, my work or the choices I make.


But Orka's a good looking girl.  I'm happy with her, as were the grooms.  I'll get more photos the next time I visit, and maybe Jim can turn that C into a K.




Chair As Folk

SO I made my first taxidermy chair.  Behold:


 I, along with several other local designers, was asked to create a custom chair for an auction to kick off this year's Philadelphia Design Festival.  The Popup Place should be a fantastic soiree as its being held at Bahdeebahdu (a heavenly spot where excellent times are consistently had by all) and stocked with tasty treats and bevvies.  I think it will e just the evening to debut a certain feline stole I've been working on...


 If you're in or near Philly and would like to attend, get more info here.  I hope to see you there!



Oh right.  The chair.  Basically we all were provided with a plain old IKEA seat, and told to go wild.  I mounted some calf legs to the steel chair legs, and upholstered the seat with the calf's hide.  
 This was an 80 pound dairy calf that I skinned and tanned myself.  Now that I mention it, I got it from one of the lovely gents of Little Baby's Ice Cream- he fetched it from their local dairy farmer- who will be serving up treats at this Design event.  Connection, connections.
 I was feeling folk inspired to I incorporated some brightly colored woven tapestry with tassels onto the legs and back and voila.  Diamond Tooth's first foray into chair making.



Hoof It











A taxidermy calf hoof bows as deeply as possibly to present light to whomever wishes to receive it. A simple an elegant gesture, this piece will add allure to any table scape or bathtub meditation.
Solid and sturdy build that will last through many candles and memorable evenings.




Calf Hoof Candle Holders, Pair:







Contemplate the future while gazing into this glass orb poised atop a preserved calf hoof. Keep this piece in a sunlit room to see the light refract in the loveliest ways.
Stands on its own, this is a solid piece that will stand the test of suns, moons, spells and dreams.









Two elegant and eternally youthful legs dangle from a gold chain, eternally entwined in playful pose with one another.
Can be worm as a necklace or hung up as decor, dangled from a rearview mirror and anywhere you want to look at something sweet and tender and beautiful.








Sort out the fine print with this elegant magnifying glass and be sure to take in every detail of the contract before you. Or look for stray hairs and other clues to whatever modern day mystery confounds you.
A solid and sturdy piece that will stand the test of many a query, while enhancing your mystique cred at the same time.





Orca was a much beloved sheep living on the Bearded Lady Farm in upstate New York. Sadly, she perished while giving birth due to complications. One her miracle offspring lives on however, and Orca's spirit also lives on in the light cast from the glow of candle burning in this pair of holders fashioned from her back hooves.
These are delicate and while they stand on their own, it is recommended to secure them with a dab of museum wax on the bottom as they are sensitive to hips bumping into the table and strong vibrations from feet stomping on the floor.
Viva Orca!




Mouse & Rat Fetus Ornament:
I made a limited run of a dozen or so of these Christmas ornament snowglobes with tiny fetuses inside.  They're selling too fast to bother listing on Etsy so I'll just share them here.  If you'd like to place an order, there are a couple left so please email diamondtoothtaxidermist@gmail.com to claim one.


It's heart breaking to open up a specimen and find that she was carrying a little family inside of her, and I don't take those moments lightly.  I've held onto my petite "nursery" for a few years now, and I want the little guys to go out and experience the world.

I hope they can bring some cheer to a few warm and fuzzy hearts.





What to wear to Dressage? Or Traffic Court?

Diamond Tooth has you covered.



The Cher:
 Platforms aren't giving you enough height? Fret not, this piece will add a solid 6" to your statuesque figure while framing your face in luxurious iridescent turkey feathers. Made from the saddle part of a wild turkey, fanned out over hand-made buckram band frame, and embellished with vintage studded jewelry and chains.



Death on Two Legs:

For the woman (or enterprising gent) who wishes to never be forgotten. Dress to kill in this vintage buckram frame hat with a taxidermy wild turkey wing swooped around and hugging the head. No nonsense, just outrageous. The spotlight is on you and you alone. 



 The Lydia:
 Thin out the herd of simpletons on a daily basis with a piece like this- only the bravest of hearts will dare approach. Ideal for the young woman who already knows not to suffer any fools.
A taxidermy rooster head swirls into a nestled coil with a horsehair cushion on its underside. He holds a giant pearl in his beak for eternity. The entire piece is anchored to a steel headband, rendering it quite sensible for the young lady on the go, be it cycling, dancing, or levitating with the ghosts of deceased football players.








The Jane:
 The Jane is for a quiet, practical sort of gal who can hop off her cruiser bicycle to deliver a breached calf or present a thesis on the benefits of counter-transference and disclosure in the therapy hour with the same relative amount of ease. She's not a show off, look at me type (not that there is a SINGLE thing wrong with that), she's more of the silent but deadly type. The kind you definitely want on your side.
A taxidermy chicken wing wraps the head of an antique felt cap, embellished with vintage lace detail.






 The Margaret:
 The Margaret is for the reserved but stylish woman; ideal for strolling through an apple orchard to pick apples or simply survey her domain.
The base of this piece is an altered antique velvet cap; a chicken tail & hide pieces frame the front. Embellished with vintage buttons, the amount of provenance in this piece is palpable.




 A Simple and easy to wear piece with maximum impact. A disc of premium, lush iridescent turkey feathers stands straight up, anchored by a steel head band. Sits slightly cocked to one side for asymmetrical hair styling options. Ideal for adding height without making too much of a splash.


Night on The Concorde:
Channel your inner classy and carefree airline attendant with this jaunty and easily beautiful piece. Take your Coffee, Tea or Me with a dash of modern class in a hat that can compliment long flowing locks, or a formal work-appropriate chignon.
Taxidermy rooster wing mounted onto a felt hat base with a silk fringe tassel and fabric bow detail.












Chicken Wing Mohawk:
Add instant height and intrigue to any ensemble and hair style. Taxidermy chicken wings fold into each-other on a hand made buckram frame which is anchored to a steel headband, making an easy to wear (except on windy days!) piece for any gal (or guy) who intends to stop traffic or command a room.



Fox Tail Earcuff and Rabbit Tail Earcuff
The tip of a fox tail dangles from a chain and attaches to the wearer via a sterling silver ear cuff. Instantly dress up any look for the day with this piece, while simultaneously giving yourself something soft to handle during dull moments.
A no brainer




 





Raccoon Baculum Charm Necklace:

 Dare to wear a Raccoon Baculum (penis bone, Texas Toothpick, etc) and see what good juju comes your way. Women have been known to don one while trying to conceive. Gamblers wrap a baculum in a $10 bill, tuck it in their pocket and head to the track to clean up. They are said to generally attract positive energy and spirits, aside from that they are an elegant and beautiful bone to behold. This one is embellished with a genuine Swarovski Amethyst and several snug brass jump rings. Necklace included.





Halo Rose and Araucana Headpiece:





Fabric roses and Araucana chicken hide nestle together onto an antique buckram halo frame to form this playful and romantic piece. A bit Spring-like in appearance perhaps, but the right lady can work this topper any time of year. It's easy to wear and frames the face is a most flattering way.










The Pearl 2.0:




A second incarnation of the original Pearl hat, this one is a bit more compact and snug against the head, ideal for riding horses or traversing the avenue with your best "don't F with me" face.
Very no nonsense.
Taxidermy rooster wing hugs the curve of the cap and a vintage gem holds up a portion of the brim creating a face flattering swoop. Hat base is vintage felt, Stetson quality.






Possum Tail Necklace:





A taxidermy Possum tail curled into an elegant swoop, and capped off with a steel end hangs from a chain at just the right length to flatter any decolletage. Often reviled as undesirable, creepy rodents, Opossum actually have some their own sort of beauty as demonstrated in this piece.





Rooster & Deer Tail Beret:

Meeting a stranger in a cafe for a clandestine exchange? Here's your hat. Elegant and practical, with an amount of flair that will get you noticed by the right people and deter the rest.
Taxidermy rooster hide woven with dyed deer tail swoop around a vintage brown felt beret, terminating in an antique charm.






Rooster Hide Visor Cap:
Make sexy eyes across the arena at that handsome Terrier breeder during the next American Kennel Club event. Dogs and humans alike will be drawn to you in this vintage altered velvet cap with black visor and rooster hide.


The Harvest Queen:
This piece made its way up to Sharon Springs this year and was an honorary guest at the Harvest Festival kicking off an entire 3 days of celebrating all things seasonal, local and organic. Seeing as it's crafted from a taxidermied chicken hide sourced from a farm just down the road in Cobelskill, a repurposed vintage hat base and a handed down magic amber button embellishment sewn on with antique suture thread, The Harvest Queen was a perfect fit. She is full of provenance and positive energy, an asset to any wearer.






The White Witch:
Goes perfect with a glass of champagne and an icy attitude. Altered antique faux fur hat sprouts taxidermy chicken hide and tail from the front top, and is embellished with vintage jewelry. A snug fit, perfect for the Anna Wintour in your life.







Taxidermy Chicken Wing Epaulets:
 I haven't listed these on etsy yet because I'd like to get more shots of them, from the underside explaining method of attachment.  Basically they pin onto the shoulders of whatever the wearer' has on, like a brooch.   If you're in love and don't want to wait, just email me directly at diamondtoothtaxidermist@gmail.com and we'll talk.


Thanks a bajillion to me talented and patient photographer James Coughlin, and the lovely Bell sisters.  Pearl is more than a great model; check out her plethora of other talents here.






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!

A Quick One While You Brunch

Enjoy one of my favorite Who songs while skimming through this quickie blog post one what turned out to not be such a quickie job:


 Thia song has nothing to do with this ram skull other than it popped into my head when I was writing the title to this post.  And ANY excuse to watch Keith Moon's antics on the drums, and Pete Townsend's pants is good enough for me.



 So a guy brought a ram skull to me last week, wrapped in palstic inside a plastic bin.  Sadly I didn't have the presence of mind to photograph it when it first arrived, but the thing STUNK.  I smelled it before he had even opened the bag.  Once I got to peer inside though, all I saw was a healthy, throbbing colony of beetles occupying this skull.


 I ushered him and his packaged out to the hallway as if we were handling some sort of bio hazard.  Which we kind of were.  There's a reason I don't keep plants in my studio, or anything earthy/alive.  I am absolutely terrified of infestation, especially in a studio so small and packed as mine-beetles, moths, etc could decimate my entire collection easy.

 One "horn" had already come off when I received it, the other slid off as Rammy was soaking.  This is a good thing because I was able to get into all the little crevices and scrub him up real good.
 After the lengthy cleaning process, it was just a matter of reattaching the horns and sealing them up with an epoxy clay. 

 He wanted it to be wall mountable so I attached hanging hardware (screwed in D rings) onto the proper rigging point on each horn.


New Taxidermy Talon Charms plus a TREAT at the end!


Here are some of the trinkets I've been working on; this is everything I just listed on Etsy, with the exact descriptions listed on that site:


 Taxidermied chicken foot charm, from the very enchanting Silkie breed. These are very special birds, with skin unlike any other fowl. They have an extra toe and the talons are hauntingly long.
Great as a holiday ornament or for home decor, this charm is medium sized (about 7" in length) and delightful to touch.











 Taxidermy Raccoon paw charm with small Swarovski crystal accent. Raccoon paws are enchanting and remarkable in their shape and dexterity. This is a wonderful piece to hang around your neck for holding onto during times or stress or while in deep thought. Channel the energy of the resourceful and imaginative raccoon.
Also great for hanging from a bag, rear view mirror, Christmas tree , candelabra, the list goes on...












 Not all Taxidermy talon charms need to be clutching tings. Some of them are perfect in their own frozen finger expression for eternity. This piece genuine Swarovski crystals on one talon. This piece is on the larger side, measuring about 10" in length.
An ideal holiday ornament, gift, or charm to hang from a dream catcher over your bed to lazily reach up and bat around like a kitten, as you ease into your day.











 Two Large taxidermy chicken feet entwined in an eternal embrace cradle a mammoth costume ring. Talons are painted a metallic brown to compliment their feathers. This piece is on the larger side, measuring about 10" in length and speaks to the more elegant and sophisticated side of talon charms.
Lovely to hand from a Christmas tree or candelabra, perhaps from a door frame to replace that dusty old mistletoe. A magnificent gift for housewarming couples or newlyweds.












 Two Large taxidermy chicken feet entwined in an eternal embrace cradle a vintage functioning locket from a delicate chain. One leg is decidedly more "lady-like" as its emblazoned with a smattering of genuine Swarovski crystals and coated with a high gloss finish to contrast the rough simplicity of the bare leg it clasps.
This piece is on the larger side, measuring about 10" in length and speaks to the more elegant and sophisticated side of talon charms.
Lovely to hang from a Christmas tree or candelabra, perhaps from a door frame to replace that dusty old mistletoe. Put a secret note in the locket for your lover, or pass on as a magnificent gift for housewarming couples or newlyweds.










 Taxidermied chicken feet charm, eternally embraced and cradling a small piece of carved shell. One leg still has its identification bracelet.
Great as a holiday ornament or for home decor, this charm is medium sized (about 7" in length). An ideal gift for newly cohabited or unioned couples.















 The red nails contrasting with the black charm reminds me of my Friday evenings spent combing the racks of Contempo Casuals as a tween at the Granite Run Mall. This large (10" long) taxidermy chicken talon charm holds onto this throwback charm with the ferocity of a Ridley girl about to fight behind the Ruby Tuesday in the parking lot.
An idea gift for your favorite Don't F*** With Me friend to hang from their tree, rear-view mirror, etc.










 This piece is a direct reference to the way Bastian twists his fingers at the breakfast table in the beginning of the movie The Never Ending Story. This film is was beyond influential in my development as a human and I continue to hold its message dear: dream, dream, dream. DO NOT LET THE NOTHING GET YOU.
Like the one grain of sand Bastian is asked to rebuild the Princess's world with after it has been destroyed, this charm flaunts the beginnings of a sparkly new universe on its side. Caress it as you dream; see what manifests.
An ideal gift for you, the dreamer, or the dreamer in your life.











 Taxidermied chicken foot charm, from the very enchanting Silkie breed. These are very special birds, with skin unlike any other fowl. They have an extra toe and the talons are hauntingly long. This particular foot was dyed lavender, and embellished with an old Hollywood style vintage necklace. It will catch the light and reflect in it the most bewitching ways.
Great as a holiday ornament or for home decor, this charm is medium sized (about 7" in length) and delightful to touch.

















Not Listed Yet:



Experimental Raccoon Paw Charm:
 This piece can hang, ideally on your wall.  its hollow enough inside to house a teeny tiny little moss plant or gem.


Large Talon Necklace:
I'm waiting to shoot this piece on a model to show how elegantly it hangs on the human form.  But here is a preview, it's for sale ($128) if you can't wait until the 18th of September when it will be listed properly.








Possum Tail Necklace:

Also not yet listed on Etsy because I am waiting to shoot it on a human model, again, if it strikes your fancy ($138), don't hesitate to contact me.


 




Fox Tail Ear Cuff:
Another addition to my rabbit tail ear cuffs, this little fox tail poof hangs from a shorter chain.  Like all my ear cuffs, the hardware is sterling silver.  Again, this piece will be listed on Etsy after I've shot it on a model, but it pretty much speaks for itself.  If you'd like to purchase ($68) feel free to contact me at diamondtoothtaxidermist@gmail.com
 

As American as Chicken Hats

Voting is now open for the Martha Stewart American Made Competition.  You can find Diamond Tooth in the Style category, and to win would be such sweet bliss for this sometimes starving artist!  Read on please:





I've been bombarding my social media sites with pleas for votes, but my bases would all be covered unless I blogged it as well, right?  I am just about the epitome of hand made, over here at Diamond Tooth.  90% of what I use are raw materials sourced from a farm in New York, or local folks here in Philadelphia.  The embellishments and most structural elements I incorporate into my pieces are objects I have found and held onto for 20+ years (justified hoarding, anyone?).
 



I really, really, want to win this competition.  While I am always wary of these online voting based contests, (it just seems like someone can generate some sort of algorithm to have a spam bot army of voters but what do I know) I'd like to think the Martha Stewart name lends some credibility to this particular event. 


Initial registration is a small pain but once you fill out the itty bitty form (for your chance to win a trinkets as well!) you are free and clear for easy breezy voting every day, six times a day until September 14. Please VOTE!

Let Dolly Help:

This is a chicken "trophy" mount I named Dolly, simply because that's the name that kept coming to mind when I looked at her.  The boys over at The Farmers' Husband actually passed on a treasured chicken of theirs named Dolly in life; she became a wedding headpiece.  This black Silkie was not named anything in life, to my knowledge, but I digress:



She's a regal gal, her soft fur-like texture contrasted by her vintage diamonds.  I gave her pheasant eyes for no reason other than I think pheasant eyes look best.


This piece was a commission for a very sweet woman who wanted to give it to her niece, who is/was having some issues with toilet training.  Ugh, even that term makes me cringe, and I already typed the p-word and deleted it.  She is having difficulty being comfortable in the bathroom.
Why am I telling you this, you may be wondering.  Here you are then- when the young lady is at her aunt's house, she seems to be just fine and it is attributed to a taxidermy chicken the aunt keeps in her bathroom.  Apparently she likes to gaze upon it and it relaxes her.  I love this notion.

 The aunt figured, maybe if she had a taxidermy chicken of her own in her bathroom at home it would help.  As someone who had her own difficulties at that stage of life, I am so touched by this woman's gesture and was honored to take on this project.


I just hope it doesn't turn up 20 years from now when she sees my work in a museum and becomes so relaxed that she pees her pants.

Actually, that would be kind of magnificent.

Twenty for Twenty: #10, Amanda Palmer

I hadn't done a Twenty4wenty piece in so long that I had to go back in my blog and check how far along I was.  I am honestly kind of shocked to see I'm only up to 10!  In my mind I was up to 16. 
Oh well, the list changes as I evolve, so I suppose it's a gift to have more breathing room than I'd thought.
Which is fantastic because while I've always taken comfort and even refuge in the Dresdon Doll's album of the same name I can't genuinely say I'm a fan of Amanda Palmer because while I love her voice and to this day am still positively enchanted by the lyrics in The Jeep Song and Girl Anachronism, I never made the effort to explore any more of her body of work.
Then I heard her Ted Talk.  Like the uncannily precise lyrics I liked her for, this talk stabbed me in the heart.  Money is something I obsess over.  Do I have enough of it, how can I get more, where will I get enough to be able to do this, I hope my ankle isn't actually broken because that means I need to wrangle up more money. 
Sometimes I think, what if there was no money?  What if we all just did what felt right and provided our services and goods as needed or requested and trusted in the fact that it would come back to us?  The more I think of it, money is seems more like a middle man, an annoying wind that moves masses of itself from place to place but doesn't MEAN anything. 
These are just the thoughts that swirl about my head though, I'm not describing Amanda's talk in any way the does it justice.  See for yourself if you haven't already:

Imagine my surprise when the stars aligned and the universe presented me (OK, I cajoled a bit) with the opportunity to pass a gift onto Amanda Palmer with just one simple middleman. 
I think she's positively dripping with juju so it only seems fitting that she receive a Baculum Charm.  Also from what I gather she travels a shitload, and handing over a hatbox to someone about to take a bunch of planes and trains seems like a rude thing to do.
SO VOILA:
Thanks Kyle Cassidy.
 This is the charm, in all its glory.  I just ran out of steam but I think I said all I want to say. 
10 more to go?

Charming

Here's some Friday morning eye candy for you: I just listed all these little beauties on my Etsy page, along with the same descriptions you see below.  For prices or to order, just head over to Etsy or email me directly at diamondtoothtaxidermist@gmail.com.
And thanks!



Taxidermy chicken foot with feathers cascading down to the toes, clutching high end chandelier crystal beads. Great for gazing into and losing yourself in the refracted sparkling light the crystal casts from its many faceted surface. Hang it in your sun room and have the sweetest daydreams. 










 A pair of taxidermy chicken feet in an eternal embrace, clutching onto a salvaged hunk of antique chandelier crystal. Just imagine the dinner parties and life moments this crystal absorbed in its time as a magnificent light fixture. A great gift for newlyweds, eager to infuse a precious object with their own energy. Full of provenance, perfect for hanging in a window and casting spark0les about the room.








Taxidermy Fawn Hoof embellished with an iridescent Swarovski crystal dangles from a delicate chain. So tiny and precious; a great gift for tiny hands with taste beyond their years to channel their own magic into. A sweet and wonderful charm that can hang from a window, a book bag, a belt, dream-catcher, or necklace.
Or just place it under your pillow for sweet dreams. 











 There is no prying this metal backed mother of pearl fan charm out of these talons. A small taxidermy chicken hand holds on eternally, a reminder to keep your dreams and ideals within your grasp. Fan charm reflects a variety of colors as it moves; a great piece for hanging from a purse, rear-view mirror or necklace. Petite and easy to manage, but capable of starting mammoth conversation and ideas.








A taxidermy chicken foot hold onto a piece of beaded chain necklace as it it had just snatched it from the sidewalk and is bringing it to their nest. Perhaps as decor, or a gift for a loved one.
A small, understated and simple charm, this piece is easy to wear on the body as it's very lightweight. The beads are great for antsy fingers to play with, and the talon itself makes for a delightfully unconventional ice breaker.





 North meets South in this piece where a chicken from upstate NY clutches a dos peso coin from Cozumel Mexico. A small piece, great for hanging from a purse or rear view mirror to gaze at and remember we are all connected no matter where we are.
 





 Taxidermy chicken foot clutches a translucent piece of plastic in its talons, salvaged from a jeweler's studio. Still wearing its identity cuff, imagine the stories you can conjure of this bird's life as this charm hangs from your window and the sun shines through the charm.





 Taxidermy chicken foot with feathers cascading down to the toes, clutching high end red chandelier crystal beads. Great for gazing into and losing yourself in the warm heated glow of the deep red crystal. Almost like blood dripping from the talons, its a reminder of the magic that is flowing through us all.





 A taxidermy chicken foot clutching a genuine Sesame Place coin in its talons, sourced from a childhood trip to the park in the artist's own childhood. A wonderful regional souvenir or gift for someone who grew up in the area but may have moved away, this charm bridges the gaps of time and space.


Have a charmed day!

Another Bride in my Lipstick Case-

And Mother Too!



I adore bridal commissions.  I love ceremony, ritual, and acts if significance.  Being entrusted to help dress a woman as she carries herself through these rites is an honor I will never take lightly.

M got married today.  I can safely post these photos her commissioned piece.  She basically gave me carte blanche; the only parameters were keeping her hairstyle in mind (a low chignon on the right side) and adding a nautical flair.
I picked this bird with feathers that naturally curled up and away from its body, making a light and swirly shape that moved in the most fantastic way:


  The mount itself was anchored to a steel band which can be visible or masked by hair, depending on style.  I've yet to see how she wore it.




 




 Some silk knot work, a subtle nod to the nautical locale at which the ceremony was being held.  She was not interested in having a veil, per-se, but I snuck in some subtle antique netting.  Provenance, baby.


 Underside knot detail:


Inside lining.  It felt gauche to stick a big old leather tag with my name on it inside her piece so I opted for one of my more discreet tags.





But wait!  There's more!  What about the mother of the bride? 



 This piece is sort of a reincarnation of an original I made for the same woman a few years back, and it suffered irreparable damage at the paws/mouth of M's dog.  So behold Muriel Blingstar 2.0, this time in the form of a Polish Hen perched atop a felt wide brim hat.
I think the Polish are my favorite chickens to work with, next to Silkies of course:


 Of course she needs accessories.





 I provided a ribbon option for securing the hat to her head.  While its all attached quite nicely and discreetly, one can never predict how blustery those maritime afternoons can be.  Heaven forbid another hat fly off and out of our lives.



Three cheers for true love!  

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.

Like a Soft, Furry Fairy Whispering in Your Ear:

I'm working on a line of ear cuffs, so far I have rabbit tails in stock but will have some fox tail tips soon.  All up on my etsy page or available for pick up at my shop.

 These photos aren't the greatest but I think the pieces speak for themselves.  I've been wearing one throughout the day lately and I find them delightfully cute, lightweight and fun to wear.
  Not only are they a superb ice breaker but if you're prone to the occasional fidgeting they serve as a perfect place for your fingers to play.


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



"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

Nieve


Say hello to Nieve.  Her name means snowflake in Spanish, and her human brought her to me not so much in the state of distress I've become accustomed to as I usually receive these pets freshly dead, but in a more eased disposition as she's had some time to deal with her little one's passing.
Nieve had been stored in the freezer for months and months while this woman searched for the right taxidermist to preserve her.  She brought her to me, still frozen looking just like this:


Nieve was an old gal, and quite thin by the time she expired.  The request was to have her in the exact pose as the one she held when brought to me, but I took some artistic liberty and put a more lifelike, relaxed element to her recline:

 I used a ready-made form that I had to aggressively alter, and made a carcass cast of the head since it's such a unique shape.  Here's a peek inside the mold:




 The end result is whopping success.  All this dog experience I have is starting to show, if you don't mind my saying so.

 I'm extremely proud of this mount, and the icing on the cake is that the client was thrilled.  I don't know if it will ever NOT be a nail biter (I'm in double digits with pet preservation mounts now and the nerves have not gone away) when I show the finished product to the pet owner.  They've projected so much emotion onto this little creature, just like I have  my own, and want to see the very best.


 Thankfully that's just what I provide.


 Sweet dreams, Nieve.







Tell Frankie I Said Hi!

I've been toying with the idea of making my own podcast for the last 5 months or so, and now I'm ready to share the second episode of Tell Frankie I Said Hi with you.
Anyone who knows me is painfully aware that I'm a hopeless podcast junkie; I've got dozens in my roster at any given time.  After almost four years of consuming this media, I got the itch to start creating my own content.  I am proceeding slowly and deliberately, however- these days it seems everyone has a podcast and I now know through the grueling ezperience of recording, editing, finding a host site, uploading, etc that this shit is TIME CONSUMING.
I love it though.  Tell Frankie I Said Hi is about people who create, the challenges we face and all the hilarity that ensues.  I also talk about what I'm doing in my studio, give you a peek behind the taxidermy curtain and inside my constantly therapized head. 
My guests on this episode are Maria Eife and Sarah Peoples.   We talk about folk art, the craft world, outsider art and projectile vomit.
I still have some technical issues to resolve, so while feedback is welcome, understand that I'm one person trying to learn as I go.
And thanks!



Have a listen:

 TELL FRANKIE I SAID HI




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