My, what large…3D printed antlers you have!

Another fun Christmas commission I can now write about (recipient is pleased, no spoilers, etc) involved a collaboration between myself and another very accomplished jeweler named Doug Bucci.  Mr. Bucci’s first role in my life was that of teacher: he taught my stone-setting class in college.  Being as Philadelphia is a small city and the artistic community a tightly woven one, Doug and I have loosely kept tabs on one another throughout the years, along with most of my other jewelry school survivors.   It felt like a war, sometimes, and we have the PTSD to prove it.

BUT.  I digress. Doug and several others in my jewelry clique have moved onto the art of 3D printing. An example of Doug’s outstanding work in the CAD arena:

 

Despite the fact that my studio-mate owns and operates one of these crazy newfangled things in the space we share together (I have seen it work with my own eyes), I cannot wrap my mind around this phenomenon.  I don’t quite care to.  I’ll let my hands do the talking and leave the techno stuff to the experts.  However, I am quite happy to endorse, receive and benefit from the articles produced by these machines.  (Have you seen me sporting my Loop Hoop earrings by the amazing Maria Eife?)

 

Loop Hoop Earrings  by Maria Eife

 

Imagine my excitement then, when Doug approached me about making a jackalope using antlers designed & printed from this technology.  This piece was to be a gift for his daughter and I was instantly smitten with the idea of not only a dad commissioning such a cool piece but also contributing his own talents.    He designed, printed and cleaned up the antlers, brought them to me and I got smurfin’.

front work in progress

These days I always seem to have at least one rabbit head (and feet, skin, etc for that matter) in my freezer, compliments of my boys at the Farmer’s Husband.  I thawed one out, cleaned his skull and built a form around it with clay.  The antlers were deliberately large; we thought an exaggerated look would be fun.  After all, this creature doesn’t exist naturally so why not make it as fantastical as possible?  This thought process is Rogue Taxidermy at its best, in my opinion.

underneath work in progress

I was nervous about supporting the weight of these bad boys on my rabbit’s head but I drilled holes through the skull and wired it up.  Success.

 

profile in progress

I got swept up in a Victorian theme, leather & lacing the shit out of this thing.  Much to my delight, I might add.

full slight left

I used grey fox eyes instead of the anatomically correct hollow black glass ones to give him more personality.

I’m a terrible photographer and this piece, due to its dimensions, was difficult to capture.  These photos are disappointing to me but I suppose they get the point across.

profile left

He’s snarling.  Those are the rabbit’s actual teeth.

right turn

And that’s Jackelope.

Every critter has enough brains to tan its own hide.

Or so my friend of American Indian descent used to say.  It sounds cool but once the image of a giraffe pushes ts way to the front of your mind you start to wonder.

But I’m not tanning giraffes, so for all intents and purposes this adage sticks.  Here is the story of my dip into the practice of tanning hides with a paste made from the brain of whatever specimen I HAVE skinned.  I used rabbit, raccoon and possum, to varying degrees of success.  There are plenty of references available online; I used this one from Lifesong Adventures.

The first step is extracting the brain from the skull, which isn’t for the well-manicured or easy-to-queasy set.  If you’ve ever blown your nose, and tried to coax out that mammoth yet elusive mucus orb hiding in your nasal passages, then you have a decent idea of what it’s like to charm the brains out of a dead rabbit.

The brain matter is then mixed with water (preferably rain water according to experts which was funny because back when I was embarking on this journey I had rain water tricking into my studio on a daily basis through the roof and walls.  I just used spring water though), heated to a near boil and then cooled.  The resulting paste is what will be brushed on the raw hides of whatever it so be tanned.

It is recommended to brush any excess onto a towel, which is then laid onto the hide and rolled up within it for maximum soakage.  The little bundles are then stashed somewhere cool and safe overnight while the tan penetrates.

Here’s mine the next day.  The smell was surprisingly light. Perhaps this is because it was October and there was a cold snap in Philadelphia- but actually, as I look closely at this photo above  I can see my two of my five little piggies that weren’t cropped out of this shot meaning I was wearing sandals on this day.  So….I’m full of shit.  Brain tanning just isn’t as odorous as one might think.

But I digress.  Once the skin is unrolled, the staking begins.  This means gripping the hide and rubbing it over a hard, blunt surface until it is completely dry.  This stretches and breaks down the fibers in the epidermis.

 

Behold a staked rabbit skin. It starts to have that store-bought garment-leather look, and feels just as luxurious.

Home brain tanners, however, be warned: staking is no joke.  I consider myself a rather fit human being and this activity left my arms and abs sore for two days.  It took me almost five hours to do three small pelt (as a beginner I maybe ought to have started with just one, but if should’ves and buts were candy and nuts…).  The thing about staking is, you can’t stop once you start or else the hide dries hard and the entire process must be started all over again.

There are machines that do this nowadays for tanning at an industrial level, (I believe Mike Rowe attempted to use one in one of his Dirty Jobs episodes) and other brain tanners use frames and various tools to make the process easier but being as I was just working with such small specimen I didn’t think it necessary.

My work chair is a lovely old trash picked work of art with a back just riddled with nooks and crannies.  I found this to be an ideal surface for staking. As you can see I rubbed the stain right off the darned thing. But just look at those yummy pelts!

After the hide is completely dry, it is smoked.  Again, there are various ways to do this but I opted for the super low maintenance method of laying them out over a screen strategically placed outside a wood burning stove.  The important thing is to use punky, wet wood- this will produce maximum smoke and that’s what’s needed to bond the oils of the tan into the skin and seal it up.  This makes the tan permanent in that should the hide get wet in the future, it will stay soft and not revert back to its original hard, rawhide state.

I left these on for an hour, rotating every ten minutes.

Now for the sewing!  I was commissioned by a contractor friend to create a fur jacket liner that would keep him warm and toasty during his cold weather work.  Side note: we wound up trading and I was treated to some MUCH NEEDED plumbing work in my bathroom.  I am now a convert of the barter system; it feels like I’m really sticking it to the man when I’ve momentarily suspended the need for stupid dollars while providing goods and receiving services.

I made a pattern from his denim jacket and used it to machine  sew a shell out of high-end padded wool.

side flip

inside denim full

with denim flip out

The fur, since it was in scrappy unusual shapes and I didn’t want to waste any, was all completely hand sewn onto the shell.  Thankfiully my friend enjoys the little imperfections that make life interesting and doesn’t mind the spots where my stitching is evident or the three little patches where I rubbed the hair off the pelts.  I took the liberty, ha, of covering one such spot with a patch.

fur side out

 

patch detail

The process took much longer than anticipated and left my fingers raw, but I actually love the meditative nature of hand-stitching.  I think spending quality time with my hands on a piece really transfers good vibrations into it and ensures that I’m passing along a product saturated in positive energy.

Case in point: look how toasty and pleased this guy is with his new vest!  (he opted to wear it inside out for this shot I took with my very state of the art heat-sensory camera; I suppose it is reversible).

whoa vest

So that was my first experience braining.  I am excited to employ this method more in the coming months; I have mittens, scarves and hats to produce!

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

Rabbit for Reggae

Remember my Twenty4Twenty project? I know it seems like I may have forgotten it but fret not, I’m just stretching it out.  Some of the people on my list are quite hard to reach; others I’ve just decided I’m not so wild about anymore.

The piece I’m writing about today falls in the fan art category but isn’t quite a Twenty4Twenty gift as I orchestrated a trade for this mount.

If you know me personally, you know that I’m a rabid consumer of podcasts.  Especially the ones falling into the comic variety.  While I get a tremendous amount of laughs from these podcasts, they are also quite thought-provoking and mentally stimulating.  Comedians are, in my opinion, the most observant, intelligent and unique people on earth.  Recently I added another podcast to the weekly roster and it quickly become my favorite. It’s called Twisting the Wind– check it out.  The host, Johnny Pemberton, incorporates music samples into the already captivating material and that’s what gave me the idea to reach out to him and propose a swap:

face right detail

Every song I’ve heard on this podcast was new to me.  And wonderful.  It took me back to my grade school days of mixtapes, where I discovered most of the music I still love today.  Perhaps I’m aurally lazy but I just prefer my favorite songs be spoon fed to me.  Record shops are among my least favorite places on earth to be, right up there with live music venues.  If someone else has really great taste, it only makes sense to me that I glom what I can off them.

SO.  I wrote Mr. Pemberton on a whim and proposed I send him a custom piece of taxidermy in exchange for a custom mix tape.  And he responded yes.

This was going great.  I was working on the rabbit I’d dispatched with Farmer Thomas, and trying out a new mounting technique (new to me, at least) in which I taxied the skin over the rabbit’s actual skull and not a form.  I also tried out a new type of ear-liner which produced mixed results.

straight on full

The mount itself is riddled with technical issues but it’s still pretty rad- he holds a little mirror in his rabbit hands to serve as a “last check” point: something to look at before seeing another person or people, and make sure there is no food in your teeth or gunk in your eyes.

mirror detail

He also has a small tiara type embellishment because he’s dripping with meaning, history and charm.

left  full

I’m quite pleased with his exposed teeth- the neat and perfect little rabbit chompers are what inspired me to incorporate the skull in the fist place.  It was a great experience to try something new and still be able to share it with someone while getting something in return, to boot!

right face detail

Ahoy!

It’s been embarrassingly long since I’ve posted, I feel a little ashamed about that but here is me dipping my toe back into the taxidermy blog waters with a quick little ditty about a pirate bunny for a client of mine who waited over a year for it!

I think the photos speak for themselves; my client had dropped off a rabbit for mounting some time ago but upon skinning the specimen I found  significant bug infestation and had to dispose of it.  I offered to replace the rabbit with one of my own and for no particular reason decided to make him a pirate.

Wooden peg-leg, check.

Eye patch, check.

Pipe, hoop earrings, anchor charm and shark bit ear, CHECK.

Happy client, CHECK.

 

I promise to have more posts up next week; soon enough I will have some very exciting projects to tell you about that will completely make up for my shameful blog negligence!

Taxidermically yours,

Beth Beverly

 

Meeting My Meat

Last weekend was an exhausting yet emotionally fulfilling one. I made the trek up to Schoharie to visit my beloved farm boys Thomas & Bailey by way of a short stay in Harlem with another dear friend while working a non taxidermy job in NYC.  I arrived at the bus stop in Albany weary, bedraggled, and depressed and drained.

The reason for my visit was not only pleasure, but purpose: the boys had been raising some rabbits for food and the time had come to process a few of them.  Thomas, who was taking on this project, immediately thought of me as a viable processing partner, given my philosophy on eating meat.  I won’t call myself a vegetarian ( I still occasionally eat meat when someone offers me a free meal and I would otherwise go hungry due to lack of funds, so call me a hypocrite if you wish) or any other label because whenever I try to talk about it, I just sound pretentious.  Unfortunately, it mostly comes up when I’m declining an offer at a gathering where everyone else is partaking in the meal.   It’s not like I want to stand up in a room full of folks enjoying themsselves and say, “well its just that you’re all eating shit meat”.

But for the most part they are.   And that isn’t the problem to me but more a symptom of something much, much more saddening.***

And maybe this doesn’t apply to everyone but this is my journey and perhaps someday I will articulate it (through words or taxidermy) more clearly but it’s no coincidence that the craft about which I am most passionate revolves around the manipulation of skin onto forms, or why I gravitate towards the rogue genre of taxidermy.  In this realm, I can take a skin and put it on a form that has nothing to do with the original specimen.  I can give it wings, diamonds for eyes, a stretched neck, anything my mind comes up with.  As someone who has struggled (to an agonizing degree)  my entire life to achieve a healthy amount of comfort in my own skin, manipulating fantasy creatures out of the dermis of others is a projection of my own wishes to occasionally escape this body I currently occupy.

It’s also no coincidence that underneath these hides are meat.  Thick, bloody, nourishing meat.  My journey as a budding taxidermist also led me down a path of exploring the source of my food, and the subsequent attempts to negotiate my ambivalent relationship with it.  This has been a years long puzzle in which I occasionally fit in a flurry of pieces in one instant, or spend months trying to jam the same ill-fitting piece into a spot that won’t accept it.  Sometimes I just have to walk away and come back when the time is right.

Last weekend in New York, my food puzzle was ripe for some work and ready to accept a flurry of new pieces to their rightful home.

Here is Thomas, watering their garden :

They’ve got corn, tomatoes, pepper, squash, a wide variety of herbs and edible flowers plus many others that I am forgetting.  It’s basically 99% edible though, and they are incorporating it into their daily meals. For example, here are some treats we harvested with which to make a salad dish for our Elizabethan Rabbit dish that evening:


Even though my parents had a garden in our yard when I was a child, my knowledge of plants and how to grow food is so profoundly lacking.  To actually see where the ingredients grow, how they are cared for, then pick them myself put some of those pieces back in the puzzle.

Meet Meat and Tilda.  Meat is just that; he’s to be processed sometime next year I believe.  Tilda will stick around for some breeding.  The boys know so much about breeds, and all the animals that they raise- they are fully invested in this life and it shows.  They admit it will be difficult to say goodbye to Meat when the time comes but I think Thomas put it best when he said “I’ve nourished you your entire life, now it’s time for you to nourish me”.  And how much more rich an experience to have touched that thick muscular tank of a creature and to have heard its delightful snorts while it was alive!

It saddens me how much bacon is consumed every day, purchased thoughtlessly at some drive-thru window or convenience store and consumed in a car or subway en route to wherever the day is to be spent. I understand that most of us are in no position to raise our own food, and the majority of us need to rush somewhere to keep whatever shitty job is keeping our electric running, and this is the larger issue I was referring to earlier.  We as a people appear to share this common need to multi-task and get everything done quickly and graduate from one spinning gerbil wheel (sorry for the cliché analogy but it fits!) to the next, never stopping to rest or be kind to ourselves because that type of behaviour simply is not encouraged.  Working oneself to death is rewarded, taking a day to sleep and rest is frowned upon.  Given this constant sense of urgency in everything all the time, it’s no surprise that food has become completely  overprocessed and unrelateable to its origins.  Eating.  It’s just one more thing we have to do.***

Meat receives his daily cocktail bath massage.

I cannot stress enough how much of a difference it has made for me to see the full circle.  I will never view dairy or meat products the same, especially after seeing the different ways in which farmers tend to their stock. If an animal is raised with love and respect, why shouldn’t it make sense that the meat it provides us will be better?

Which brings me to the rabbits.  Below is the big mamma rabbit who birthed the ones which will serve as meals.  She’s a really darling, and we thanked her for her hard work.

Now, the next few pictures after this are graphic, but no more so than any cooking website with a meat recipe.  There is plenty of educational material out there on how to humanely kill and process a rabbit so I felt no need to further saturate the internet with my own images, but there are some meat and guts pictured so consider yourself warmed.

After plenty of thought, discussion, and watching videos on the subject, we decided that severing the spine at the cervical vertebrae would be the safest and best bet.  I felt more comfortable using my bare hands than some external device like a broom stick of which I could possibly lose control.  So we each picked a rabbit, went to our designated spot, said a prayer of thanks and counted to three.  Mine didn’t go so smoothly but we remained calm and it was over in a matter of seconds.  My heart was pounding, my knees and arms felt weak and I had to crouch down to collect myself.

Wow.  I had just taken a life.  I had just looked this creature in the eye, held it, stroked it, comforted it and then snapped it neck.  And I wasn’t sorry.  I wasn’t even crying, like I thought I would.  Instead I felt surprisingly in touch with my surroundings and how I related to them.

Look.  I know that hunters dispatch animals all the time and every modern luxury I enjoy comes at the price of an animal’s life, one way or the other.  I’m not trying to pile on  any more significance to this event than my own personal amount, and certainly don’t want to be seen as the next hipster chick to fool herself into thinking she invented “farm to table”.  So please don’t misinterpret my words for any more than what they are: a description of my experience, the very first time I embarked on paying the karmic price for my meal, as Georgia Pellegrini has said.

Without wasting any time we hung them up and started processing.  Here’s Thomas peeling the skin off his rabbit:

Gutting: his went much more smoothly than mine, but I enjoyed the process regardless.  There is an intense heat that comes off a creature once it has died; I noticed this the one time I purchased a freshly killed squab from the live poultry market and I could feel its heat burning through my bag and into my back as I rode home with it.  This heat is even more concentrated inside the gut cavity and it was a bizarre and grotesque thrill to stick my hands in it and yanked out the heart.

Thomas successfully removed his bladder- which is just beautiful -while I cut right through mine and wound up with a pee covered pair of bloody hands.

The butchering, if you can call it that,  (I feel like I’m insulting real butchers by calling the hack job we did by that name) took the better part of an hour.  Clearly both Thomas and myself could benefit from some lessons.  If only we each had our own reality shows where attempts at self betterment through education could be sponsored by some third-party….

The rabbit chunks were tossed in flour and then lightly fried, and ultimately went into this wine-based stew mixture and cooked for three hours in Thomas’ new Le Creuset.  Please check The Farmer’s Husband for full recipe and details.

In honor of my visit, Bailey created an outstanding centerpiece for the dinner table.  Mr. Pickles approves.

All the photos I took of our three course meal came out blurry and dark, so I’m going to leave that coverage to the pros at The Farmer’s Husband.  What I will say is that it was by far one of the best meals of my life, and along with the dazzling sensory experience of taste, smell and sight, there was also the sense of having earned this meal by getting my hands dirty and truly engaging myself in it.  I felt so full that I had to undo the top button of my jeans but for the first time in my life I felt no shame associated with this fullness.  Nary a hint of the words calories, exericize, weight, needing to justify this food or guilt reared its ugly head.  I just felt nourished and content.

And for me, that was the gap closing right where it needed to.

The next morning I “helped” the boys with their chores by hovering about taking pictures.  Here they are treating the pigs to some goat’s milk.  I think the Lass was tickled mid milking and stomped her hoof in the bowl, warranting it pretty much unfit for human consumption.  But just right for hungry piggies!  Nothing is ever wasted on this farm and everything has a purpose.

Even rumps double as pillows.

Story time with the Littles.

Life imitating art imitating life.

Chicken city, rush hour.

Sandals are a poor choice on a farm during chores but my feet survived.  In other news, I would like for my hair to mimic the coloring/pattern of this chicken.  Can anyone help me with this?

That afternoon I boarded a bus back to NYC  which connected to another bus to Philly which connected to another bus home.  All the while in tow I had a mini-coolor with rabbit heads, pelts and feet for me and organs for my cats.  They LOVE raw rabbit.  I also had a generous amount of treats from the boys, clear eyes and a full heart.

CAN’T LOSE.

 

 

*** It occurred to me I posted this that my sadness over mindless consumption transcends food, and is directly connected to waste.  How many times have your pantyhose ripped and you just shrugged and threw them out, knowing you could just as easily replace them?

I’ll just buy another.

I have come to loathe those words.  I’ve always had a disdain for waste, but my financial status as of late has forced me to put a very fine point on this.  Waste is unacceptable.  I cannot afford to throw anything out or damage my nice things so I handle my precious goods with care and find ways to use everything to the last drop.  I’m talking about slicing open the moisturizer tube and scraping the inside to get one more dollop.  I remember as a kid I thought it was so funny that my depression-era grandmother (who I’ve come to realise was never actually poor, she was just resourceful) would re-use her hosiery in so many creative ways: the elastic waist bands served to secure boxes of brownies, the material made into really cute puppets or even soap savers. Now I totally get it.  This mentality of “just throwing it away and buying a new one” is why we have an entire industry built around “Field Destroying” (it’s so difficult to find info about this online but basically it’s when folks are paid to destroy any merchandise that is flawed or just plain undesirable instead or donating, or selling at a discount.  It isn’t even permissible to toss these items in the garbage for fear of some filthy dumpster diver getting their dirty poor person paws on it.  If this isn’t a the canary in the coal mine showing us how fucked up the retail/consumer system is, than my head is exploding for no reason.)

There is no connection to where our goods come from.  Even if it’s techno-wares, someone’s hands touched it.  Someone made the packaging.  Someone trucked it over to your corner store and stocked it on a shelf for you and I, the consumers.  I really hope that when my clients take a piece of mine home, they treasure it and feel all the blood sweat and tears I poured into that item.  Obviously, a custom taxidermy hat is much more involved and labor intensive than a bobby pin but please, next time you’re at the counter, handing over your paper or plastic to be swiped, run through your mind the series of events which brought this product to your possession, and acknowledge the extraordinary amount of coordination and teamwork that made it possible.  Thanks for reading.

Paws down, the best charm in town.

I recently was contacted by a lovely gal in Alberta, Canada about a custom rabbit’s foot charm.  While I have been thinking about making these for over a year now (it seems so obvious), it took this request to get the ball rolling.  Now I’m excited to get more into production as they can be carried for good luck or hung from key chain, necklace, anything to be touched or held in times of stress, with the pleasant knowledge that every part of this creature was used.

While working on this piece, I did some light research (read: plugged the term “rabbit foot charm” into a search engine) and found out that the rabbit’s foot served as a talisman way back in 600 BC when the Celts carried them as good luck charms.  There are specifications as to just what can count as a good luck amulet (according to Wikipedia):

  • First, not any foot from a rabbit will do: it is the left hind foot of a rabbit that is useful as a charm.
  • Second, not any left hind foot of a rabbit will do; the rabbit must have been shot or otherwise captured in a cemetery.
  • Third, at least according to some sources, not any left hind foot of a rabbit shot in a cemetery will do: the phase of the moon is also important. Some authorities say that the rabbit must be taken in the full moon, while others hold instead that the rabbit must be taken in the new moon. Some sources say instead that the rabbit must be taken on a Friday, or a rainy Friday, or Friday the 13th. Some sources say that the rabbit should be shot with a silver bullet, while others say that the foot must be cut off while the rabbit is still alive.

There is also the belief that rabbits are shape-shifting creatures which are actually witches.  So a rabbit’s foot sourced under the conditions described above is actually the foot of a witch.

SO COOL!

Here is an absolutely gorgeous example of an old timey Victorian Rabbit’s foot charm:

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/12/Rabbitsfoot.jpg

(Brilliant!)

 

While the foot I used is actually the front left foot of a rabbit that I’m betting was not shot in a cemetery, I believe  in taking the old rituals/lore and infusing them with new energy.  All my work is saturated with thought and emotion; I like to think that I’m filling each piece with positive energy which will then benefit whomever receives it.  And I actually admire witches so I hope this rabbit wasn’t a shape-shifting lady…or else I fed her to my cats!  Trippy thought, cats eating witches.