I came BEARing gifts.

 

Har.

Well, it wasn’t technically a gift as it was for a client and she paid for it, but the amount of love and time I poured into this piece could warrant usage of the term “gift”.

This  rug was a dream project, as I think rugs are beautiful and functional, as well as a joy to make.  I was instructed to “make a bear skin rug with lots of diamonds and flash”.

Ideal Diamond Tooth project, yes?

I found the hide already skinned and tanned from a hunter in Maine who had harvested it with a bow and arrow.  Knowing that this specimen had been sourced ethically and the meat was sustaining a family, I proceeded with confidence.

Diamond tooth, check.  Sparkling eyes, check.  Diamond nose stud, chain from nose to diamond stud earring, check and check.

Oh!  And tongue ring!

Diamond manicured paws, but of course.

After hand stitching the entire lining onto the hide I attached the fringe along with my tag along the bottom.  Finis!

I could hardly BEAR to see it go.  The fur was so soft and warm; I know it will feel just divine on a cold winter night.

Would this piece win any ribbons at a taxidermy competition?  Probably not.  It’s not perfect.  But I’m proud of it, I think it’s beautiful, and I hope she brings my client many a smile.

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Elvis was reincarnated as a bear and his skin is on my table.

 

I finally got around to working on a bear-skin rug for a client; she is another really fun individual to work with who basically said, “make it as glitzy and shiny as possible.”

Words to live by.

So I set out to source materials and make the sparkliest, most pizazzified bear-skin rug the world has seen.

I bought the skin frmo a hunter who shot the bear with a bow and arrow, harvesting the animal for food.  The cape arrived tanned and fairly soft but I had to rehydrate some parts to soften them up more in order to work with the facial areas.

Opal the cat approves of this fur.

Here is the head form.  I altered it slightly to express a nice Elvis-like lip curl, and proceeded to plaster the top left fang with crystals.

 

Diamond Tooth, indeed!  And this is just the beginning.  Stay tuned for an update on this hunka hunka burning work in progress.

“We call ’em slut bugs.”

Today we began working on our coyote rugs, using hides purchased from a distributer already fleshed and tanned.  My fellow student also brought in a huge skin from an Alberta Buck her friend had gifted her, and I helped her flesh it out a little.  I’ve got a knack for getting my little fingers on a hunk of flesh and ripping it from the skin which is more economical, time-wise, than knifing it out.  My nick-name for the day is “The Ripper.”

Here is my head form for the coyote, with artificial jaws set in.  Original skulls are rarely used these days because over time the teeth crack and break.  I think when I’m doing this on my own, however, I will use original skulls, simply because I have a disdain for all things plastic.  Maybe I’ll cast metal ones, who knows.

I wanted to challenge myself so I studied some reference pictures and carved a snarling shape into the form.  Creating this expression also involves various sculpting techniques with clay but I’ll keep that info to myself.  I’m trying really hard to keep my inner-brat from emerging as my patience grows thin with all this conventional, commercial mounting.  I think when I’m getting paid to do it, I’ll have no issue, but I long to be putting jewels on paws, false lashes on eyes, pheasants on stilts, etc.

Pinning the face.  Mine had a scar just inside his eye, and since a typical client wouldn’t want to feature that in his prize rug, I learned how to obscure it.  Top secret!!!!

When Mr. B came back from lunch he had a present for me- one of his hens had died over the weekend and when he’d mentioned it to me in passing this morning, of course I asked him what they did with it.  “Well, we usually bury ’em…” …but surprise!  He brought it in for me!  She’s a real looker, too, and she’s all mine to mount however I wish.  Stay tuned.

After we finished mounting the head portion of our rugs, the hides were soaked and stretched on a table.  I am not so adept with hammering; I whacked my thumb several times.  What’s even more tantrum-inducing than smashing a digit repeatedly with a hammer and staying silent about it so as not to draw attention, is your instructor catching it every time and reminding you  “not hit your thumb with that hammer.  It really smarts.”

I noticed several lady bugs on the table; the other student and Mr. B were eager to destroy them.  Apparently there is a huge LB infestation in the area and they are not viewed as the luck-spreading, charming little guys we here in the city know them as.   In fact, they are a different breed.  The LBs up in the Poconos are an Asian beetle which look exactly like Ladybugs, and were brought to the US to aid in pest control.  I guess they then became the pest themselves.  I’m told they reproduce like crazy and clog up vents, eat through stuff, and bite.

Not so cute:

I took the scenic way home, via back roads, and stopped for coffee at a little shop in White Haven.  I’d wanted to stay and enjoy it there while I soaked in the environment, maybe get some networking practice, but it was just myself and the “barista” I doubt he’d call himself that) there and I felt him eyeing my every move so I stepped out.  I hate feeling watched when I haven’t made it clear I’m looking to be the center of attention.  I start to second guess my every move and can’t think straight.

When I got home, I took a walk around the hilly fields behind the cabin and then took a nap with the dogs in front of the fire while the boys made dinner.  They ate and headed out, and I went to bed.