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Yes, that's right, dear readers, I want to know about your love affairs with taxidermy.  Do you have a piece? Maybe more than one?  Perhaps a moose head above the bed or a musty pheasant in the parlour?  Maybe you bought a vintage armadillo on e-bay.  Maybe you hunted the beasts down in the wild, wild wilderness.  Or maybe it arrived as a gift, and you just wish it would go away.

In any case, if you have one or a few pieces of taxidermy and would like to share your stories, download the word file questionnaire here + and send it back to me at ravishingbeasts@gmail.com.  Please include AT LEAST ONE image of your lovely self among your taxidermy, up to a maximum of 5 images. 

 

 

 

Friday
Feb172012

Beastly Love: Joanna Shears

 

Beastly Love asks readers to tell us about
their personal affairs with the wild
world of taxidermy. Read more BEASTLY
LOVE or contribute your own pictures and
answers here +

 

NAME:Joanna Shears
AGE: 29
OCCUPATION: Taxidermist – Death&Glory Taxidermy
LOCATION:
Bristol, England
TOTAL NUMBER OF TAXIDERMY PIECES: About 15 (four are in progress)
FAVOURITE PIECE: The 130 year old birds my mum and dad bought me for Christmas last year.  They birds both died on the day their owner got married.  She thought it was some kind of omen and had them mounted.

What was your very first piece of taxidermy? The first piece I owned was a piece I made myself.  I keep Rhino beetles and when my first pair passed away I preserved them and bejeweled them for an art show I was involved with.

 

Where do you find pieces for your collection? Ebay, gifts from friends, junk shops.  I also make a lot myself.

Where do you display your taxidermy? I’m living with my parents at the moment so they are confined to my room.  They don’t mind some bits but I can appreciate that it’s not to everyone’s taste.

How or when did you become interested in taxidermy? I’ve always been interested in it.  When I was little we would often visit our local museum which still has a massive antique taxidermy collection.  I’ve always loved it.  

What do you think taxidermy is?  Art? Souvenir? Kitsch? Nature?  Taxidermy is different things to different people.  People like Damien Hurst and Polly Morgan have really dragged it into the public eye as a high art form but I have to admit that my heart belongs to Walter Potter and the more kitsch idea of anthropomorphic taxidermy.


Do any pieces have names?   My beetles have names but that’s because they were previously well loved pets. The bejeweled ones are called Frank and Bertie. I’ve got a little blue tit that has been stuffed really badly. I felt sorry for him so I gave him a home. I think he deserves a nice name at some point.

Have you ever prepared a taxidermy mount?  Yes, I am a taxidermist and have just started up my new company Death&Glory.My first commission was a beloved hamster who had been in the freezer for 2 years waiting to be mounted. I had to custom make a hat, scarf, glasses and leather moccasins for him. Now Mr.Pookie will be warm and cozy for all eternity.

I recently mounted a mouse wearing a tiny bowler hat and smoking a pipe onto an adult sized bowler hat.It was my present for the secret santa at work.The recipient was very happy. Phew!

I’ve got a lot of exciting projects in the pipeline for 2012 but my mum has banned me from stock piling dead stuff in the freezer so I’ll have to mount what’s in there first before I get carried away.

Do you worry about displaying so much death... that is, do you ever get negative reactions to your collection?  I don’t really see it as death.  It’s just the outside of the animal.  Like leather or sheep skin.  I think all the death leaves it when you skin it.

I’m lucky that my friends, family and fiance are all really supportive.  A surprising number of them say they would love me to mount something for them.  One of my friends has even asked to come and watch me skin my next animal. 

Why do you think taxidermy is back in fashion? I think it’s back in fashion because it really encapsulates the vibe of the era of curiosity shops, side shows and wonder.  It’s an era of real craftsmanship and magic that’s an amazing antidote to the modern, slick, super efficient, technology driven world we currently live in.  Long live the past!

If you were reincarnated as an animal, what would you be and why? I’d either be a bird because who doesn’t want to fly? Or a crab because they’re my favourite animal.

 

Thursday
Dec222011

Beastly Love: Sarah Bacavis

 

Beastly Love asks readers to tell us about
their personal affairs with the wild
world of taxidermy. Read more BEASTLY
LOVE or contribute your own pictures and
answers here +

 

NAME: Sarah Bacavis
AGE: 23
OCCUPATION: Artist and curiosity cabinet designer
LOCATION: Colorado
TOTAL NUMBER OF TAXIDERMY PIECES: 15 or so actual taxidermy mounts, some of which I’m still repairing.

FAVOURITE PIECE: My capybara head is pretty unusual. He came from a Brazilian Safari in the sixties. Apparently while my taxidermist friend was working on repairing him another employee walked in and asked her if he was a baby hippo! The mount traveled all the way from Florida where he was discovered hanging on the wall of an antique store.  The coolest thing about him is he has a giant scar running down his face from where he was once attacked by a Jaguar!  

What was your very first piece of taxidermy? The very first mount I bought came from a local antique store. The guy at the antique store told me he had a llama mount in his back room; it turned out to be a female pronghorn. I didn’t have the heart to correct him.  

Where do you find pieces for your collection? Garage sales, thrift stores, antique stores, and online.

Where do you display your taxidermy?  We live in a small apartment, so all throughout the place! It’s like one big wonder cabinet!

How or when did you become interested in taxidermy? In Kindergarten the teacher had a Barracuda taxidermy mount in the classroom. It was hanging on the wall near the reading area and I used to sit by it and read. I think that sparked the interest in me. It didn’t take long before I had shelves put up in my room so I could display my treasures; skulls and bones found in the creek, the tail of a squirrel I drug home, and mouse bones extracted from countless owl pellets. It was my own personal nature center.  

What do you think taxidermy is?  Art? Souvenir? Kitsch? Nature? There’s taxidermy out there that fits into every one of those niches! Despite some of  he really kitschy pieces out there, I feel strongly that taxidermy is an art form.  It’s an age old art form and antique taxidermy mounts are true time capsules. I like to collect antique Taxidermy pieces especially because they evoke a sense of romanticism. They tell a story of a time period filled with exciting scientific discoveries and expeditions into the “uncivilized” world. 

 

Do any pieces have names? Yep. All of them end up with names. For example our Caribou mount is named Pisces because my husband thought that a Caribou was a fish.

Have you ever prepared a taxidermy mount? In 8th grade I tanned a deer hide. I ended up with only a tiny hide after most of the hair slipped. Since then I’ve mounted a Faux dog head and a coyote. Mainly I work on restoring older mounts that need a little TLC. But I want to learn.

Do you worry about displaying so much death... that is, do you ever get negative reactions to your collection?  I never see it as death. It feels more like living at the natural history museum. Instead of making people disgusted it seems to intrigue them. Still, I get the typical “Eww they’re looking at me. Creepy!” type of comments from unsuspecting guests once in awhile.

Why do you think taxidermy is back in fashion? Taxidermy seems to mesh well with a variety of popular styles. Now everyone from hipsters, hunters, steam-punkers, vintage lovers, and minimalists love the stuff. Deer heads are no longer relegated to the lodge. It’s nice to see the interest, but I can’t wait for the mainstream fascination to die off...then the prices of beaten up old mounts can drop again!

If you were reincarnated as an animal, what would you be and why? A leopard. They may not be the largest of the big cats but they hold their own.  They’re illusive and independent. They also have a striking sense of fashion.  

Thursday
Jun162011

Beastly Love: Annick Aldo

NAME: Annick - AldoWorkshop
AGE: 48
OCCUPATION: Graphic Designer - Artist
LOCATION: Belgium
TOTAL NUMBER OF TAXIDERMY PIECES: 23 and growing

1. What was your very first piece of taxidermy?
A Rook (Corvus frugilegus) bough at a flea market in the 80's.

2. Where do you find pieces for your collection?
Mostly I hunt at flea markets and junk shops. Presents from friends.

3. Where do you display your taxidermy?
In the living room of my tiny apartment.

 

4. How or when did you become interested in taxidermy?
When I was a child I would collect bones, skulls, feathers, dead birds found in nature. I would bury dead birds in dry sand and leave them in the sun to become naturally dried out and mummified.

5. What do you think taxidermy is?  Art? Souvenir? Kitsch? Nature?
Depends on the motive. The taxidermist main concern is about capturing life, to be accurate in representation and not about freedom of expression, therefor I believe taxidermy would be best defined as a craft. Thinking of the many great skills involved to make a mount look life-like and to give it character makes me personally approach taxidermy as the ART of taxidermy. The world of Walter Potter is easily labeled as kitsch but is of such a curious bizarre nature and a reflection of the Victorian era that I consider his work to be Art.

6. Do any pieces have names?
Not really, I just call them: the fox, the rook, the chicken thief, …

7. Have you ever prepared a taxidermy mount?
Cabinet skins.

8. Do you worry about displaying so much death... that is, do you ever get negative reactions to your collection?
I don't see taxidermy as "death" nor either as life. It's a hyper realistic sculpture, which can unsettle the viewer's perception. The use of animal skin contributes to the notion of authenticity and allows one to be deceived into believing it was a once living animal. I am well aware that taxidermy has become a controversial subject. Perhaps people with out spoken opinions against taxidermy don't like to be confronted with the fact that animals are killed … for food, clothing, shoes, leather sofas, carpets, pest control management, by traffic, etc …  and therefor find taxidermy displays offensive.

9. Why do you think taxidermy is back in fashion?
There is popularity in the use of taxidermy in Contemporary Art that takes a critical look at the ART of taxidermy with conceptual art projects that questions the human uses and abuses of animals. As taxidermy becomes rare and less in demand due to our changing awareness of nature and wild life, control on wild life trade, wild life protection, taxidermy legislation, etc the value of antique taxidermy increases and a different kind of collector surfaces. Today we value things differently and I doubt that we can speak of a "fashion" like taxidermy was fashionable in the 19th century. 

10. If you were reincarnated as an animal, what would you be and why?
A bird of prey.

Read more BEASTLY LOVE here +

Monday
Feb072011

Beastly Love: Erika Harada

NAME: Erika
AGE: 25
OCCUPATION: Graphic Designer
LOCATION: Queens, NYC
TOTAL NUMBER OF TAXIDERMY PIECES: 5
FAVOURITE PIECE: Rug mount of a fox cub (roadkill), or my antique polar bear claw

 

1. What was your very first piece of taxidermy?  A duckling found on Ebay – the poor thing was destroyed by my cat, Pepper, soon after we moved into this apartment. She went on to destroy a gorgeous pheasant mount, so now she is not allowed near any of my pieces!

2. Where do you find pieces for your collection?  In antique stores, and online.

3. Where do you display your taxidermy?  They're all in my living room.

4. How or when did you become interested in taxidermy?  I have always been enamored by the lovely mounts on display at the American Museum of Natural History; going there as a child made me interested in collecting as well as learning more about the natural world. I started out collecting animal skulls and bones, and have only recently began to incorporate taxidermy into my collection.

 5. What do you think taxidermy is?  Art? Souvenir? Kitsch? Nature?  I think it's art that commemorates nature; it takes a lot of skill to create a good piece.

 6. Do any pieces have names?  I named my wolf rug Ernest. He is an old Jonas Brothers mount.

 

7. Have you ever prepared a taxidermy mount?   I have tried and failed to mount a squirrel; I'm now looking for people who might be interested in teaching me.

8.  Do you worry about displaying so much death... that is, do you ever get negative reactions to your collection?  I do sometimes, but I don't really understand where they are coming from. Death is a natural part of the world, after all.

9. Why do you think taxidermy is back in fashion?  A lot of older things are back in fashion – vintage clothes, records, cameras. I think it's a part of that sort of general trend.

10. If you were reincarnated as an animal, what would you be and why?  I would be a river otter. They always seem like they're having fun.

Thursday
Jan062011

Beastly Love: Diane Armitage

NAME:  Diane Armitage
AGE:  52
OCCUPATION:  Antique Store Owner
LOCATION:  Haunted San Juan Capistrano, CA
TOTAL NUMBER OF TAXIDERMY PIECES:  Too many to count!
FAVOURITE PIECE:  Albino Raccoon

1. What was your very first piece of taxidermy?  My taxidermy obession started out as “animal rescue” when a friend was going to throw away a black Russian boar’s head.  As he was headed to the trash bin with it, I said “Hey wait a minute!  That boar’s head would be perfect with my haunted house décor.”  So Boaris was my first.

2. Where do you find pieces for your collection?  At flea markets and online.  It’s funny because a lot of time when I find a really strange looking piece on ebay, the description wil say, “Must sell or wife will divorce me” - LOL

 

3. Where do you display your taxidermy?  In my living room and at my antiques booth.  My collection is constantly changing. Currently I have a large wall of deer heads, a strange old full-body bobcat, a Victorian black cat, a 1920s bear skin rug, a trio of smaller heads – an albino deer, a snarling raccoon and a very weird old coyote that looks like a Chupacabra.  Also, several geese, one large one in flight.  In addition, I collect old taxidermy forms and I have a really nice one of a fox with glass eyes and all.  I especially like albino or white animals and have several of those, including a snarling white possum that came from a natural history museum.

4. How or when did you become interested in taxidermy?  When I was a child, my mom and dad would take me to the doctor and the doctor was a big game hunter and the large waiting room had many Africa animal heads on the wall, including a rhinocerous, and a zebra.  He also had an aquarium and a large area behind glass with a bunch of mice.  I think my fascination began there and then really took off when I started decorating my house in a dark Victorian style.  Antique taxidermy just goes so well with coffins and skeletons.

5. What do you think taxidermy is?  Art? Souvenir? Kitsch? Nature?  Depending on how well it was put together, it can either be art or kitsch.  I actually prefer the older pieces that have shrunk up a bit so the animal’s eyes are bulging out a bit, so my collection usually tends to be a bit on the macabre side, not as much on the artistic one.

6. Do any pieces have names?  Yes, I’m afraid so.  I have Edith, the albino raccoon and Tahlullah, the bobcat.  And of course, Boaris the boar.

7. Have you ever prepared a taxidermy mount?  No, I don’t think I could handle the blood and guts part of it.

8. Do you worry about displaying so much death... that is, do you ever get negative reactions to your collection?  I don’t worry about it, but I do get negative reactions.  One friend saw my Victorian leopard head that is displayed in the viewing window of an antique child’s coffin and she said it was “horrifying.”  It didn’t bother me since that is just the reaction I like.

9. Why do you think taxidermy is back in fashion?  I think there is a lot more interest these days in the strange and the unique.  I was amazed when I opened my antiques booth last year that it would do so well, especially during a recession.  I guess people not only need to pay the rent, but they need to have the occasional taxidermy raccoon or mummified cat.

10. If you were reincarnated as an animal, what would you be and why?  I would want to come back as a pampered pug because it may be a short life, but it would be a great one!