There is a lot of fault to be placed in our perception of things that aren’t considered normal and what comes as a surprise is that, to most people, taxidermy doesn’t fit that bill.
Taxidermy is the permanent three-dimensional representation of life-like reproductions that serve as mementos or trophies, to name a few. Public perception is led to believe that it is the feathers, scales, and skin are preserved and come from the actual animals themselves. However, as technology and civilization progressed, so did the materials used in taxidermy.
The craft, that requires carpentry tanning and molding to name a few, can now be done with purely man-made materials. In fact, this is the case for most commercially bought taxidermy pieces today.
So to gain more interest in this field, we have compiled a list of 9 stand-out moments of taxidermy recorded in both distant and recent history--immortalized in the annals of the internet.
This happened in 1798 when the sketch and pelt of this animal was sent back to England by a captain by the name of John Hunter. When it arrived, it was concluded to be created by flight of fancy by a Chinese taxidermist, since the hide came from the Indian ocean. The earlier presumption was that a furry mammal’s body was used except the mouth is changed into a duck’s beak.
As time passed, no tampering or stitches were ever found. Pelt after pelt was sent back and the British scientists were forced to believe the reality of the animal. The first pelt that caused the controversy still exists in good condition to this day. Unfortunately, the Natural History Museum in London thought it best to lock it up in the Mammal Tower as it is considered very valuable.
The China government gifted a panda by the name of Hsing-Hsing to the US government which died in 1999. Up to now, the Smithsonian kept the tanned head, cape, and carcass of this animal because the mounting of it could be considered as as an insult and create an international incident.
Fortunately, a replica was made by using bleached and unbleached bear skin by Ken Walker. He cheekily named the piece Thing Thing, and this piece won the Best World Recreation price at one World Taxidermy Championship.
Recently, a girl named Mackenzie McCarty was featured in The Steve Harvey show because of her taxidermy collection. The 11 year-old collects dead mice and stops them from being snake food and dresses the taxidermied mice in costumes from the hit movie Grease.
Although shunned by her classmates as a result, the young hobbyist continues to enjoy it. She says that it started when a couple of her mom’s squirrels died when she was 9, and she also taken classes since. To watch the video, click the link on the title.
This young friend has even moved on to creating accessories from roadkill with skulls too misshapen to be mounted including feet earrings and tail bows. If she can do it, why can’t you?
Shows like Immortalized and American Stuffers dedicated to taxidermy have also helped its popularity rise. Shows have also included them in their storyline like the dog named Rowdy which was included in the sitcom Scrubs.
A famous movie by Woody Allen known as Midnight In Paris also has a scene of a taxidermy shop filled with animals like tigers, elephants, and birds of prey in mid-swoop. The fact, the number of appearances by taxidermy in popular shows and movies are quite considerable.
Since 2002, there has been a spike in interest rogue taxidermy. This includes do-it-yourself accessories for yourself and your homes as well. Some people are of the opinion that this is the final attempt of the hipster culture for shock, especially those that focus on creating fantasy animals like rats with wings.
Now, people are also more widely using it in their homes as it is also advertised by Urban Outfitters and West Elm, both of which sell imitation trophies and mounts as house decoration.
A featured article in the website of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not is the Chinese artist Yang Maoyuan. His work is controversial because he inflates processed hides of horses, sheep, or goat in order to inflate them into stand-out round balls. In order to attract more attention, the artist also makes them more colorful.
This artist’s art is widely accepted, especially in his homeland where harmony is represented by circles.
A Brooklyn based artist by the name of Kate Clark has created groundbreaking art that causes empathy and puzzles at the same time. The National Geographic featured artist places very human faces into disused animal taxidermies and creating an astounding effect that forces the observer to think.
Amongst her herd are zebras, greater kudu, baboons, cougars, and wolves to name a few. If you would like to see the result, just click the link above.
Arjen Beltman, an engineer, and Bart Jensen, an artist, has beaten mother nature and made an ostrich fly in 2013 by creating the Ostrichcopter. It is a remote control drone with a taxidermied animal body. The latter also created the Orvillecopter which made use of Jensen’s cat named Orville. Both also made a Pepijn, a 13 year-old boy very happy by creating the Rat Drone from his pet who died from cancer.
If you would like to watch all of the above, including a Sharkjet resembing a V1 bomb, just click this section’s title.
A lot of taxidermy beginners expect it to be as easy as pasting outer animal coverings into a mold, and the job is done. As a result, a lot of bad taxidermy specimens are out there, so much so that it has started to become a running joke. If you would like to check these sites you can click here and here.
It should be reiterated that taxidermy aims to capture life after death, like a painting or a photograph, as a trigger of feeling. We shouldn’t discount it altogether because of its bad reputation.
People are afraid of things they d o not understand, it is said. An easy solution presents itself in this case. We beat the expectation and try to know more with special priority to those particular ones.
In earlier times, the famous scientist Charles Darwin, former president Theodore Roosevelt, as well as famous personalities today like Martha Stewart and Kate Moss rose above the fold, and proves to us that there is no harm in taxidermy.Taxidermy can be both intriguing, beautiful and shocking, depending on which side of the mount you’re standing on (before and after). But thanks to the internet, it’s getting a bigger spotlight and enthusiasts don’t have to leave the comfort of their dens to appreciate other people’s work.
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