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.

Tryin’ to get a nut to move your butt.

Here’s some photos of a fun piece I was commissioned to do for a friend this Christmas.  Apparently his lady friend has a disdain for squirrels (I’m hearing of this more and more; are squirrels taking over the city?  Do you all have any idea how tasty they are?  No kidding…) and seeing a stuffed one under her tree channeling some devil vibes seemed to be the ultimate gift.

 

 

face

So here’s the little scamp mounted on a piece of garland, stealing a glass ornament.  Devil horns and all.

above

I took some liberty with the eyes; obviously in nature squirrels do not look like this.  But when touched with the evil stick, some artistic interpretation is welcome, I’m sure.  Also, these peepers are antique hand-crafted glass eyes that I’ve been looking to use for ages.

full left

 

Man, he looks pissed.

 

left

Merry Christmas!

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!

This Little Light of Mine-

 

 

both front

Well, this little light of Harriett’s, actually.  She’s the 80 pound goat I took from my lovies up at The Farmer’s Husband after she expired during childbirth.  I fashioned her hide & head into a rug which has turned into a rather complex project involving fiber optic lights and whatnot, and her feet have been spun into candle holders:

 

 

gem detail

 

Please pardon the waxy bits I forgot to dust off before photographing, I was too excited by how festive the red candles look with these hooves.

left then rear

These are just two of Harriett’s four peds, I am in the midst of fashioning the other two into candle holders as well. I’m quite smitten with the idea of honoring this beloved goat with light.

 

 

sans sticks

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

Immortalized

 

I’ve tweeted it, I’ve facebooked about it but just to be sure I’m spreading the word I’m blogging about it:

If you read this blog, I’m guessing you’re into taxidermy.  Therefore, it would behoove you to check out this television show on AMC slated to premier on February 14.  I am on it.  It was a unique and fabulous experience which I am very excited to see in its final form.  The show is called Immortalized and you can learn more on the AMC website  since I can’t figure out how to put the video up on my own blog. But here’s a picture:

Immortalized Cast Photos

 

So I hope you can watch it!  I know the other Immortalizers and they’re a talented, riotous group.  I’m stoked to see all eight episodes!  So let’s all make a date to watch the premier on Valentine’s day.  It will bring new meaning to that chocolate heart.

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