CHARMED, I’M SURE.

 

Charmed, you’ll be.

Allow me to present you with the latest batch of taxidermy talon charms- just in time to decorate your tree, wreath, rearview mirror, mistletoe, what have you.  As you’ll soon see I have no idea how to shoot a reflective surface without getting myself in it so enjoy the self portraits of your truly as well.

I’m listing these on this site with prices for anyone who would like to buy immediately and directly from me. This weekend I’ll post what remains unclaimed on my etsy page.  All of these duck and chicken feet came from the boys up at the Farmer’s Husband and are the byproducts of delicious, humanely sourced meat. While size varies slightly, each piece falls into the 5″ to 7″ range. Due to the bulk of specimen this large, prices are slightly increased as the process of preservation is more involved, timely, and labor intensive.  Also, bear in mind that most of the charms clutched in these little claws are one of a kind or antiques that cannot be reproduced.  You and your loved ones will be the only ones on the entire planet to possess the ornament of your choosing.

 

Do please peruse at your leisure, should any of these strike your fancy, send an email to diamondtoothtaxidermist@gmail.com.  All pieces can be shipped or picked up from my studio in Kensington.

 

Duck Foot with antique silver glass ball, trimmed with white fox fur: $38

Front view-

duck with silver ball 1 front

This glass ball is uncapped- perfect for slipping a rolled up love note into for your favorite elf.

Side view-

 

duck with silver ball 1 right

 

 

Duck foot with antique silver glass ball, trimmed in raccoon fur: $38

 

duck with silver ball 2  right

 

Duck foot with antique silver glass ball, trimmed in white fox fur: $38

View 1-

 

 

duck with silver ball 3 back

 

View 2-

duck with silver ball 3 front

 

 

Chicken clutching electroformed & oxidized cone charm with feathers, trimmed with fur: $46

Rear View-

 

 

electroformed tube back

This was the first piece I produced in my electroforming class back in jewelry school.  The fur is reclaimed from an old fur coat I rescued from a landfill destiny.

Front view-

 

 

electroformed tube front

 

Chicken clutching Givenchy perfume bottle, trimmed in white fox fur: $38

View 1-

givenchy perfume bottle back

Suggestion: Fill the bottle with colored water for enhanced decor effect!

View 2-

 

 

 

givenchy perfume bottle front

 

Chicken clutching antique gold glass ball. trimmed with white fox fur: $38

View 1-

 

 

gold ball 1 left

View 2-

 

gold ball 1 right

 

 

Chicken clutching vintage gold-plated leaf brooch, trimmed in white fox fur: $42

leaf brooch full

leaf brooch detail

 

 

Double Chicken Talon Charm, trimmed in white fox fur: $48

View 1-

 

lovers clasp empty 1 back

The pictures of this ornament didn’t come out well at all; my apologies.  It’s essentially the same as the other doubles charms you’ll see posted below, the hands holding each-other with an empty space within.  Leave as is or stick a chocolate heart in there!

lovers clasp empty 1 front

 

 

Double Chicken Talon Charm, trimmed in white fox fur: $48

lovers clasp empty 2 front

 

 

Double Chicken Talons cradling antique miniature pink glass ball, trimmed in fur: $56

View 1-

lovers clasp mini pink ball 1 front

View 2- This specimen had the not-as-common trait of feathers reaching down to his toes.  It creates a sweet cocoon effect from the rear view.

lovers clasp mini pink ball 1  back

 

 

 

 

 

Double Chicken Talons cradling slice of genuine quartz, trimmed in raccoon fur: $56

View 1-

lovers quartz back

 

 

 

View 2-

lovers quartz front

 

Just for fun, a quartz-enhancing backlit shot-

lovers quartz backlit

 

Chicken foot with antique miniature light pink glass ball, trimmed in white fox fur: $38

View 1-

mini pink glass 1 right

 

View 2-

mini pink glass 2 left

 

Chicken foot with antique miniature pink glass ball, trimmed in white fox fur: $38

View 1-

mini pink glass ball 2 left

View 2-

 

mini pink glassball 2 right

 

Chicken foot with antique miniature light pink glass ball, trimmed in white fox fur: $38

View 1-

mini pink glass ball 3 back

View 2-

mini pink glass ball 3 front

 

Mutant Cock Talon with antique miniature pink glass ball, trimmed in rabbit fur: $48

View1-

mutant mini pink ball 2 right

This is not a pretty piece, but a rare one nonetheless. This foot belonged to a large rooster who lived a full life, as evidenced from his gnarled skin and toes.  The fur capping off the ornament is from a rabbit I dispatched myself and brain-tanned.  Can you say provenance?

View 2-

 

 

 

 

mutant mini pink balll 2 left

And because most gnarly rough neck chickens have TWO feet,

 

Mutant Cock Talon with antique miniature pink glass ball, trimmed in raccoon fur: $48

View 1-

mutant mini pink glass 1 left

View 2-

mutant mini pink glass 1 right

 

 

Chicken with 3 plastic rings, trimmed in fox fur: $42

View 1-

plastic rings left

 

Psst- the blue ring glows in the dark

View 2-

 

 

plastic rings right

 

Chicken with vintage road runner bolo charm, trimmed in raccoon fur: $42

View 1-

roadrunner charm full

 

Detail-

roadrunner charm detail

Chicken with Texas Ranger charm, trimmed in fox fur: $38

View 1-

texas ranger badge full

 

Detail-

texas ranger badge detail

 

Duck with antique glass “globe” ball,trimmed in white fox fur: $46

duck ball

 

Chicken with genuine “MOM’S” token, trimmed in white fox fur: $46

Philly Dwellers take note: I earned this token through many nights ,(ok let’s be honest…afternoons) spent in the dark hazy cave known as Sugar Mom’s while living with the Reverend Michael Alan in a magnificent loft on 3rd street circa. 2000.  For some reason I never cashed it in. Hello, PROVENANCE.

 

Tmoms

 

 

Chicken talon with large spur holding mystery wooden ear plug, trimmed in raccoon fur: $46

I found this ear plug on the ground during an outside concert at XSXW in 2010.  It was the Gwar show and Andrew WK had just taken the stage to bring the heat with his amazing party-mate Cherie Lilly.

 

wooden plug

 

Happy Holidays!

xoxo, BB

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Charmed Life

Here’s a short sweet little post about a few talon charms I made the last week. All are chickens sourced from my favorite farm in Schoharie  New York.

This Foot is clutching a wooden Saint charm gifted to me by a friend whom I know through Bailey, one half of the Farmer’s Husband. (Side note- I was mentally composing a list in my head today of all the people I have to thank for my blazed taxidermy trail and it’s astounding how each one is connected how we are all connected but that’s a post for another day).  I’m not sure what saint is represented here but I think it looks so much like Dora the Explorer that I just named it after her:

Accentuated with soft ducking hide:

 

Another gift from this friend was a horse shoe charm bracelet.  Hence:

FYI: For anyone who doesn’t already know this, horseshoes should always be kept in the is direction so your luck won’t run out.

 

Remember Miss. Hannigan from Annie?  I imagine her wearing this:

Sorry that picture is so terrible; clearly I do not poses my husband’s camera skills.  Here’s a better one:

 

Something I’ve been wanting to make use of is this mini watering can:


It won’t pour water but you can stash your drugs diamonds in there!

As usual, if any of these strike your fancy don’t hesitate to contact me.

 

And that’s been post.

 

Quacker

Here’s a quickie post about my most recent quacker.  A new client brought this gorgeous Mallard Drake to me a few months ago and waited patiently for his mount while I cruised, moved, etc.   He used the breast meat to make a lovely dinner for himself and his gal, which always makes me happy to hear.

Ducks are challenging but I love working with them.  The grease in the skin makes them much more labor intensive than a chicken or pheasant (which is why I think I need to recalibrate my pricing on birds) but as a result their feathers never seem to dry or get brittle like most of the chickens I work with.  Such handsome creatures.  There are scores of them at FDR Park where I like to run my dog, and I can’t help but quack at them every time I pass by them with their cute duckie butts wiggling in the water.

 

Some people believe that the number of curly-q tail feathers corresponds to the duck’s age, but I don’t know if there’s any truth to that.

Enjoy your new home, duckie!

 

DIRTY BIRDS

I searched for a song about “dirty birds” prior to writing this and I discovered that there is not only a song by that name, but a dance to go with it!  OH, Atlanta, you slay me.  I got a kick out of the video; there are some hilarious background folk featured throughout.

Anyway, the video and that brief preamble are to serve as a slight buffer between you and the visual content of this post, as it’s a little dirty.  I figured I’ve got enough street cred as a taxidermist to have earned your trust, so I feel OK writing about the less glamorous aspects of this craft that make so many people queasy.  If you cannot stand the site of flesh or bone, then please abort now.  But if you’re feeling brave, take my hand baby birds, I’ll feed your head for a minute.

I had two hunters drop off birds last week.  One was what I  initially identified as a female Bufflehead but upon closer inspection actually turned out to be a female Blue Wing Teal.  The other bird was a white pheasant.

Two gorgeous specimen, although you wouldn’t know that from the insides of them.

Let’s start with the duck.  Ducks are notoriously fatty.  There is an odor to them that tends to hang on for a few weeks even after they’re tanned, dried and mounted.  I have no qualms with the odor, but the fattyness can get quite tiresome.  You see, I don’t yet possess a fleshing wheel, so I have to cut all the fat off by hand.  Being someone who actually finds solace in mundane repetitive tasks, I usually don’t mind this but I’ve been pushing my poor paws to the limit lately and there is a soreness creeping in that only people who work with their hands could begin to understand.

Whining aside, I do like trimming fat.  I marvel at it.  I mean, this is what flavor comes from.  But my first instinct is to recoil in disgust if it gets all over my hands or my face.  Why is it gross to touch this substance that is so completely universal-I have it, you have it, all your dogs and cats have it, trust me they do– and it’s the common denominator of all things delicious?  This fat is the real deal.  It’s not oleo or some bogus hydro corn science project, its bona fide, warmth providing, lifesaving fat. I am getting better at embracing the stuff however; it doesn’t hurt that after handling it I’ve got smooth Palmolive hands for hours, even after scrubbing with soap!

Official degreasing diagram

As you can see from my very official chart above, duck skin is tricky. It’s simple to see where trimming needs to be done, but the actual skin is like a thin film of tissue paper underneath all that fat.  It’s extremely easy to cut too far and make “duck doilies”.  Needless to say, I’ll have quite a bit of sewing to do on this skin before I mount it.

The spoils of duck lipo:

Foster THIS

After that, its into the tanning solution and a quick rinse.  Whenever I pull birds out of the water, I’m just a tad dubious that I’ll be able to turn such a sad looking rag into something as beautiful as its original form, but it always works out.

Onto the pheasant.  As is often the case with game foul, this guy was just riddled with bird shot. Both legs were all but shattered.

.

Lots of holes:

B, B, B, B, BULLET HOLES!

It’s not just a matter of holes but picking the shot out of the flesh, since I feed these birds to my animals and I don’t want my little babies choking on lead.  The feathers kind of clump together around the shot, some still with quills in the skin, some buried in the meat.  It’s not unlike pulling weeds:

one...

two...

three...

four...

and PULL!

Here’s one leg.  The bone was totally broken, which can be hazardous for little taxidermist fingers working flesh off of them.  I have the scrapes to prove it.  The other leg was completely obliterated.  This means more work down the line when it comes time to mount, but this all comes with the territory.

Post bath, also looking like a wet rag, albeit one covered in beautiful feathers.

Like I said, I use this meat to feed my cats.  If a hunter just wants a trophy mount and doesn’t care to eat what he catches, I will gladly play vulture and use whatever meat I can for my four-legged brood at home.  Obviously this applies to game and not roadkill.  In this case, I cut off what I could and placed it all in the crock pot with some chicken stock.  A few hours in there and presto!  Warm cozy Sunday dinner was served to my little ones:

And that’s the word, Bird.

Squirt.

This morning I was skinning a duck in preparation for a taxidermy demonstration I’ll be giving on Saturday.  I plan on having some finished mounts as well as a cured skin to show various stages in the process.  Sounds fine right?  Except it’s for children.  Children terrify me.  Last night I was envisioning speaking to them and I cringed at myself as I lay in bed, marveling at what a nerd these kids will think I am.   I was a kid once, and I know first hand they are cruel, and nothing people over the age of thirty do could ever be cool.

Wait, WHY do I care what a bunch of children think of me?  I guess at the end of the day I don’t.  Amway, I’m thinking about all this as I skin my duck, and I’m at the head. I’m angling my brain-spoon around the back of the eye sockets to free the eyeball and SQUIRT!  A stream of black eyeball juice lands upon my shirt, my arm, my face, MY EYE.  I have duck eye juice in my human eyeball. This was the first time I popped one, and I never knew how inky the liquid is.  I wonder if it could be used as dye?

After cleaning up that mess I was able to focus on the task at hand, only to find a very broken wing.  Break one, humerus bone:

Break two, radius and ulna:

It’s not really that big of a deal when wings are shattered like this but it does pose a challenge when skinning.  It’s relatively easy to use the whole arm for leverage when working the skin off, but when the arm is just a pile of mush there isn’t much to hold onto.

Thankfully I had my studio mascot there to keep me company while I worked.

Ever since I cleaned my studio and organised it in a fashion which is conducive to how I work, it’s been a nonissue having the cats around. Frankie sometimes manages to sniff out any mouse tidbits I have hiding around but aside from that he doesn’t care to get into the other animals.  It’s very pleasant to have him sleeping at my feet in his little patch of sun while I work.

This is my newly cleaned studio.  It may look cluttered but I have a ton of stuff in a very small space.  Amazingly, everything has a home and I know where it lives.

Work table and mini freezer:

Supply shelving, windows, and Frankie!


Some of these things were never like the others…

Here are some new pieces that I just got around to getting decent pictures of, thanks to my full time live-in photographer James Coughlin.  You can see more of his work  at Snap Blam Splat.  Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without him.  Well, I do actually, I would pay through the nose to rent the equipment and go insane trying to figure it all out. Dude makes a wicked tie-dye too.

This is the hen from a month back; I just got her back from the “Other Nature” how at BahdeeBahdu, which received a nice write-up on Cool Hunting.  I wound up going with the name “Nascita Typica”.

This is the hat I wore to the Polo Cup;it’s a female Bufflehead which has been embellished beyond the point of no return.

And this is the male Bufflehead hat I wore to the Devon horse show a couple of weeks ago.  He’s naturally flashy so I let his real colors shine.

Darning Ducks

Yesterday I finally got around to paying the piper in regard to stitching up all the holes I created in my duck skins while degreasing them last week.  The darning process added about an extra hour to the mount time, for the two ducks combined.  Here’s some sewn up holes:

One of these Buffleheads was just about shot to bits; there was no leg bone to work with, a shattered wing bone, and buckshot in the beak.  Plus, when I was skinning it I pulled too hard when I reached the neck area and just about tore the entire hood off the damned thing.  Sewing that up yielded no results as the whole creature just looked more pathetic the farther I got.  PLUS I must not have degreased him enough because my fingers kept getting oily as I worked.  I don’t mind the finger oil (in fact it feels quite nice on my dry skin) but once I start transferring the oil from my fingers to the feathers on the exterior of the skin, they appear yellowed and dull.  I could always proceed and then clean the feathers  afterwards but that doesn’t mean the oil residue on the inside won’t bleed out through the skin eventually.

When good ducks go bad. Very, very bad:

I’m not sure how everything went SO WRONG on this one duck but I’m very thankful that all the mishaps were concentrated on him while the other one mounted so easily it was as though I were in a dream-state.

I positioned him on a hat (the 2nd for my Devon Horse Show series) and although he may look slightly unnatural, I wanted the wing to arc around the brim of the hat and frame the wearer’s face. I’m trying to achieve just the right balance between whimsy and realism.