As a teenager, Mark Holmgren of Edmonton, Canada lost all use of his arm after a motorcycle accident. Last year, he decided to have the nonfunctional arm amputated. But he also had a curious request of his physicians: Holmgren wanted to keep the lost limb.
“I carried it out of the hospital in a garbage bag,” Holmgren told CTV News Edmonton. “I actually kept it in my freezer for about a month.”
Apparently it wasn't easy to find a taxidermist willing to remove the flesh and prepare the bones for display.
“A couple of them told me no, like right away. There was no way that they were going to touch human body parts.”
Eventually, he found a taxidermy shop willing to do the job.
“I’m just going to keep it probably behind the sink in the kitchen," Holmgren says. "I’m happy I did it. It’s just not for everybody.”
More: "This Edmonton man had his arm amputated. Then he kept the bones." (CTV News Edmonton)
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In Anchorage, Alaska anyone with a public library card can visit the Alaska Resources Library and Information Services library and check out a taxidermy ring-necked pheasant, black rockfish, or hundreds of other mounted animals, skulls, and furs. From Smithsonian
While the majority of users are local teachers, who incorporate the pieces into their lectures and lesson plans, and biologists and researchers using items for studying, non-educators are also known to check out pieces too.
“We have a snowy owl that has been used on several occasions as a decoration for a Harry Potter-themed party,” Rozen says. And filmmakers reportedly used a number of items during the making of the 2013 movie The Frozen Ground to design the basement lair where the film’s villain would keep hostages captive. Just like with library books, ARLIS expects that lendees take good care of any items checked out.
Interestingly, ARLIS’s existence is largely known by word of mouth, both for patrons and locals who want to donate a piece of realia to the collection. The vast majority came from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game with a lesser amount from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, however the library does also take donations from the public.
“Earlier today someone called me and offered us a raven that he found in the wild that had been killed,” she says. “Ravens are frequently requested, even by English students doing presentations on Edgar Allan Poe.
"This Library in Anchorage Lends Out Taxidermic Specimens" by Jennifer Nalewicki (Smithsonian)
Learn more in my post from 2015: "Library where you can check out dead animals" Read the rest
Kate Clark combines taxidermy animals with hand-sculpted human faces to create fantastical beasts from unreal lands. From her artist's statement:
The fusion of human and animal that I create presents a fiction suggesting that our human state is fully realized when we acknowledge both our current programming and our natural instincts. I emphasize the characteristics that separate us within the animal kingdom, and, importantly, the ones that unite us.
The wild animal hide I use has an energy and presence like no other material. I shave sections of the animal's skin to reveal porous and oily features that we recognize as our own. Stitched over a hand-sculpted human face, the material quality of the skin brings believability to the final sculpture: they are portraits we relate to. I emphasize the seams so that the faces are obviously reconstructed yet they are not monstrous, they are approachable, calm, dignified, majestic. The viewer has an intimate relationship with the face and then identifies with the full animal, acknowledging the animalistic inheritance within the human condition.
Kate Clark (via Juxtapoz)
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The New York Times' alarming headline "How to skin a cat" turns out to be a short, intriguing item about being a taxidermist in the 21st century
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Put any creature you want preserved in the freezer within two hours of its death; rigor mortis sets in as soon as the body cools. ‘‘Bacteria is your enemy,’’ Eddy says. Thawed animals become particularly pliable and easy to skin. If you hope to make a rug or want to freeze-dry, begin with a ventral incision along the underside.
At the Alaska Resources Library and Information Services, anyone can check out skulls, taxidermy mounts, pelts, and other bits and pieces of dead animals for free. Librarian Celia Rozen says that the most popular items are bear and wolf furs used in Boy Scout rituals and also snowy owl mounts requested by Harry Potter party planners. As you might expect, educators appreciate the opportunity to make their lessons more, er, tangible.
“It gets them excited about being in biology class,” South Anchorage High School science teacher Chris Backstrum told the Alaska Dispatch News. “It starts the year off on a good foot."
"Need a wolf fur? A puffin pelt? All you need is a library card and a visit to the ARLIS library" (ADN)
"Something Preserved" (Great Big Story)
(photos by Marc Lester/ADN) Read the rest
I know what my kids will be making me after school today. Read the rest
Every retailer has the right to lower prices to drive interest. Read the rest
My friend has had gallstones, but with no insurance, just suffered through them for the last year. She just had her gallbladder taken out at the ER and is, happily, doing fine. But for all the trouble it has given her, I decided to stuff and mount the little sucker like a trophy animal!
I even included a few pebbles in the stuffing so you can feel the gallstones!
Construction was easy and took a few hours. I had the felt and thread in my hobby drawer; the pattern was free-form (trust me, I have no skill). I used cut up-scraps for the stuffing, and, of course, rocks from the yard. It's sealed with a few scarps of yarn. The wood plaque was bought at a hobby store for $1 and sanded/stained with leftovers found at my local hackerspace. Someone had donated excess brass sheet stock, which I used in a minimill to engrave the plaque. I decided to use a magnet to mount it to the plaque so that the plushie can also live on her fridge. Our space didn't have extra magnets, and I didn't find any suitable ones in a motor I took apart -- so I had to buy a six-pack at the store and am donating the extras for the next person. Read the rest
Rogue taxidermist Lupa writes, "This is my latest altered taxidermy piece: an antique Corsican ram taxidermy mount turned into the fluffier, cuddlier--and smaller--cousin of the Common Tauntaun, complete with information booklet ('The Tragic Treatise of the Teacup Tauntaun'). It's a piece I made for a Star Wars themed group show this May at an art gallery here in Portland." Read the rest
Canadian artist Clem Chen produced a pair of lovely grotesque sculptures by combining bicycle seats with taxidermy, presently on display at the Hot Art Wet City Gallery in Vancouver. Read the rest
Morbid Anatomy's Joanna Ebenstein just edited a new book by Dr. Pat Morris about English taxidermist Walter Potter (1835-1918) whose creations are icons of Victorian wunderkammer whimsy. Here's a trailer for the related documentary, a collaboration with Ronni Thomas of The Midnight Archive. Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy Read the rest
This pleasantly creepy fellow was once the tail end of a deer. Adam Wallacavage encountered him at Prof. Ouch's Bizarre Bazaar & Odditorium in Philadelphia. Read the rest
Stacey Ransom points us to this delightful collection of terrifically bad taxidermy! Read the rest
Good morning. Here is a high-quality photograph of the taxidermy catcopter Xeni posted video of yesterday. [Cris Toala Olivares / Reuters] Read the rest
Full list of posts updated Monday, February 6. This is the final update.
Last week, I asked BoingBoing readers to send me images and stories about your favorite museum exhibits—beloved displays and collections squirreled away in museums that might not have a big profile outside your state or region. The challenge was triggered by an awesome photo of a mummified Ice Age bison on display in Fairbanks, Alaska.
But this series also has roots in my own love of the museum exhibits that defined my childhood. Over the coming week, I'll be posting more "My Favorite Museum Exhibit" entries. I'll update the list here, and this post will be the one-stop place to check if you want to read them all. But I also wanted to use this space to share one of my favorite museum exhibits—the Panorama of North American Plants and Animals at the University of Kansas' Dyche Museum of Natural History.
Taxidermy is not normally my thing. I love dinosaur bones, but dioramas always make me feel like I'd rather just be at a zoo, or watching a nature special on TV. This is especially true of the "local flora and fauna" sort of museum dioramas. I have seen squirrels, thanks. But the Panorama is something else, a work that transcends its genre to become true art and a temple to Maker creativity. Read the rest
Darick Maasen (facebook) made this unique ornament from an antique taxidermied turtle and a pair of chicken wings. [Darick Maasen Art via Kotaku] Read the rest