/ Matt Maranian / 5 am Wed, Aug 12 2015
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  • This 1930s how-to on making novelties out of mice heads is perfect for the 21st century Internet

    This 1930s how-to on making novelties out of mice heads is perfect for the 21st century Internet

    Maker Mayhem: Low Moments in How-To History, Part 18

    Truly inspired is a maker who can turn a rodent infestation into a crafting opportunity, but if you’ve got a sharp knife, a steady hand, a strong constitution, don’t believe in karma, aren’t concerned about hantavirus pulmonary syndrome or hemorrhagic fever—and don’t mind being dismissed as a psychopath—crafting with mice could keep you busy every rainy afternoon for the rest of your life.

    This how-to dates from the early 1930s as The Great Depression still cast its shadow, and for makers this meant making the most of what they had at hand. So, if life gives you rodents, make bookends – or a chess set. Or a pair of salt-and-pepper shakers. Embellish your dungarees with funky furry appliqué. And there’s no rule that says you have to stick exclusively to mice. Sundry vermin, small ailing pets, and bats or birds that inadvertently fly in through an open window and can’t escape are fair game too. Does your neighbor have an annoying little dog with an incessant bark that keeps you up at night? If the dog moves slowly, is easy to catch, or can be quietly lured from its yard with a slice of baloney, you can solve your problem and procure a novelty table lamp at the same time. If you’ve got a possum going through your garbage, a family of squirrels taking up digs in your attic, or a litter of feral kittens that somehow made their way into your basement, understand that these critters are not problems, but creative opportunities. And free art supplies! As the indigenous people of North America efficiently used every part of the buffalo, no part of your rodent need go to waste either; bones can add valuable phosphorus to your garden soil and the guts can be dried on a windowsill for use later. You’ll think of something.

    Turning living things that dart into tiny holes and quickly disappear into the darkness under your kitchen sink into “bookends, candle sconces, and so on…” requires quick reflexes, and mice aren’t a crafting medium for the novice; if you’ve ever killed one in a trap and neglected to dispose of the carcass after a few balmy summer days, then you know what the home of someone who crafts with mouse pelts might smell like if they aren’t a proficient home taxidermist. Maker beware.

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