Taxidermy (from the Greek for arrangement of skin) is the art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of animals (especially vertebrates) for display (e.g., as hunting trophies or museum display) or for other sources of study (like species identification) or simply the preservation of a beloved pet. Taxidermy can be done on all vertebrate species of animals, including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians.
This past year I had the pleasure of hosting taxidermist-artist, Divya Anantharaman twice out of my studio in Toronto. Divya teaches taxidermy workshops in New York and is a resident taxidermist/entomologist at the Morbid Anatomy Museum and Evolution store in Brooklyn and NYC. She travels the globe teaching all aspects, care, safety and legalities involved in taxidermy as well as high respect for the animals, and ethics and sourcing. Beyond that she is a wonderful person! Extremely friendly and open. She shares all of her knowledge (tips & tricks) and experience as a taxidermist.
In March 2016 Divya is returning to Toronto and will be holding 3 special workshops plus, she is traveling with her friend and colleague Katie Innamorato! Katie is also a resident taxidermist with the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn, NY. Katie and Divya will be dual teaching the following workshops, March 11, 12 and 13th 2016. Seats are selling out towards this special weekend- if you have been interested in the art and craft of taxidermy THIS is an amazing chance to learn from two award winning, highly skilled taxidermists!
Friday evening, March 11th: Beginning Entomology; Beetles & Moths 6:30-9:30pm 10 person max. $80pp
In this class, students will learn everything about basic insect preparation. We will discuss harvesting and drying specimen, rehydrating dried specimen, and in class we will practice handling techniques, spreading, mounting, the nuances of posing, display, and maintenance. An assortment of ethically sourced insects; Beetles & Moths, in various sizes, shapes, and colors will be provided. Students will learn how to put together and maintain their own rehydration chamber, things to check for during all stages of the process to ensure a clean and successful end product, and tips for gentle handling. We will also cover how to select museum quality materials for displays.
Students go home with their own prepared beetle & moth, a spreading board that can be used for future projects, and the knowledge to create their own pieces in the future. It is recommended students bring a small bag or box or display case to transport their pieces. Mounting its, mounting pins and various insects are available at the studio for purchase.
As always, all specimen are ethically sourced. We will be reviewing the origins of the assorted insects used in class, how students can ethically and legally source specimen, and suggested, reputable suppliers. If there are any excess specimen left, they will be available for students to take home for practice and future use.
This class will introduce students to basic small mammal taxidermy, focusing on the skinning, prepping, and sculpting techniques specific to the face. We will cover splitting lips, thinning noses, turning ears, and other techniques to successfully set a face. Each student is provided with their own specimen which they will skin, flesh, prep, mount, and groom. We will go through the process of carving busts for each mount, how to attach antlers, and will discuss taxidermy techniques that can be used for projects larger and smaller. Carcasses will be used for reference and available to students if they want them. Further preservation processes will be discussed as well; tanning, mummification, wet specimens, bone cleaning, etc. Everything is supplied and students do not need any prior experience for this class. Each student will leave with their own finished piece and the knowledge to create their own in the future.
This class will cover both beginner and advanced techniques used in small mammal taxidermy from start to finish. Students will learn proper skinning and fleshing procedures, how to split, turn and position facial features, including the ears, proper dry preservation, and the traditional methods of building a form using wrapped body, carving the head, and the carcass as reference. Students can pose their squirrel in an anthropomorphic or naturalistic style, and are welcome to bring props if they choose. A small selection of props will be provided, and instruction on how to create your own props, such as top hats, monocles, and squirrel sized clothes, will also be provided, along with materials to make antlers, horns, or tentacles. Each student will leave class with a finished piece, and the knowledge to create their own pieces in the future.
Check out the following short videos. A bit of a ‘sneak-peek’ into the worlds of Divya and Katie.
The following link will take you to the short film, Still Life an interview with Divya- the privacy settings does not allow embedding into WP.
- Harper, Douglas. “taxidermy”. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 17 July 2010.