Can you be a Vegan taxidermist?

It may surprise you to  know that I support the vegan philosophy and have recently made the switch from vegetarianism to lead a vegan diet and lifestyle.

I made the decision after learning the truth about what consuming animal products does to the environment, our health and most importantly, what horrors these poor innocent animals endure just to give us a fleeting taste on our tastebuds.

‘Land of Hope and Glory’ really opened my eyes to the truth, as did ‘Cowspiracy’ which is another great documentary.

Educate yourself

This means that I do not purchase or consume any products deriving from animals, including meat, dairy, eggs, leather, beauty products etc.

I don’t think that eating meat is entirely wrong, but the sheer quantities we eat it in and the way we exploit, enslave and abuse animals for it, is.

When we can survive and thrive on a plant based diet with no meat, eggs or dairy, killing animals for conveniently packaged flesh that we are so desensitised to is unnecessary. I do not condone the slaughter of innocent animals that have a preference to live their lives in any situation, including ‘trophy hunting’.

‘Humane slaughter’ is the biggest oxymoron – how can an animal be humanely slaughtered when it wants to live? Can we humanely kill a person who doesn’t want to die?

 

When we buy meat, eggs and dairy, we’re essentially commissioning someone to murder an innocent being that didn’t want to die – this is something I cannot justify doing when I am privileged enough to choose from plenty of tasty, cruelty free alternatives readily available in all supermarkets.

Not only do these beautiful creatures we breed in to existence suffer in horrific ways unimaginable, the animal agriculture business is the worlds number one cause of greenhouse gases, leading to the destruction of the earth and extinction of many species.

Amongst the countless health benefits of a vegan diet, these are a few of the reasons why I live this vegan lifestyle:

FOR THE ANIMALS, FOR THE EARTH, FOR MY HEALTH.

Be the change you want to see.


Is it even possible?

How I justify being a vegan taxidermist

Many vegans will absolutely not tolerate my taxidermy work and will claim that I 100% cannot be vegan‘ as I am ‘using’ animals in a ‘disrespectful manner’.

Here are my answers:

YOU CAN’T BE VEGAN BECAUSE YOU’RE CAUSING HARM TO ANIMALS.

No aspect of the work that I do contributes to the suffering of any sentient being, and I absolutely pride myself in that (apart from myself when I accidentally get formaldehyde in my eye or stab myself with the scalpel blade).

This is because NONE of the animals I work with are killed for the purpose of taxidermy – most of the specimens I work with are donated to me after being found in the country side or by the roadside as a result of accidental car strikes.

No, I cannot be certain they didn’t suffer terribly by the side of the road after being hit, but the point is, they didn’t suffer for my work. I did not wish for this to happen, I did not contribute to this animals suffering in any way and there’s nothing I could have done to prevent it.

YOU’RE NOT VEGAN – WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS DISRESPECTFUL TO THE ANIMAL!

Wether preserving an animals remains without their permission is deemed moral or not, that’s up to you to decide. But in my personal opinion, once a sentient beings’ soul has departed, they’re gone.

All that is left is an empty shell that once represented them, which is free to the earth once more – just like my shell will be some day. You can’t exploit or cause harm something that isn’t sentient, just like you can’t exploit or cause harm to an apple.

Personally, if I knew my body could continue to help others, inspire people and leave them in awe once I have departed the earth it would make me so happy. I know you’re thinking it..I’ll tell you! What I would love, is a sky burial (google it, but don’t if you’re squeamish) – donating my body to vultures, lammergeiers in particular, one of my favourite birds!

People donate their bodies and organs to science and education after death all the time, take Gunther Von Hagens ‘Body Worlds’ for example. People donate their bodies to be plastinated and preserved – hugely educational, inspiring to others and just plain amazing! I feel it’s absolutely no different with taxidermy, using deceased animals that have not suffered for historical and educational purposes.

I AM ACTIVELY HELPING WILDLIFE

Sharing the same philosophy as vegan activists – I go out of my way to help animals and wildlife. Although I am limited to what I can physically do due to my chronic health conditions, I do this by volunteering at local nature reserves and donating at least 10 percent of every sale I make from my ethically sourced taxidermy to various charities, such as the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

I like to think the beautiful animals I work with are leaving a legacy and are contributing to helping wildlife and the environment through their preserved beauty.

Taxidermy gives people a chance to be up close and personal with animals that surround them that they may just take for granted. Having this experience can inspire people to look out for our vulnerable wildlife in this ever fragile world that we are loosing a part of each day.

Another thing to note is by removing roadkill from the immediate roadside, I am reducing the risk of other animals being killed by traffic – especially birds of prey that feed on carrion close to the road that can easily get caught in the slipstream of speeding traffic.

As I only use the skin in taxidermy, I return the meat to a safe place in the countryside where predatory and opportunistic species can safely feed.

I SUPPORT WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

I hugely support wildlife conservation and I’m always keeping up to date with the latest campaigns and think about how can my actions contribute to helping species in jeopardy?

Example: I will no longer be accepting Red Grouse commissions as the management of uplands is just completely unsustainable and something I do not support at all. The practices is leading to the rapid decline of Hen Harriers and other birds of prey because they are being illegally shot, trapped and killed as they are seen as a threat to livestock, (which are going to be slaughtered in huge numbers for human pleasure anyway) not to mention the extensive amount of predator control taking place.

Since being a taxidermist, I have a vast knowledge of wildlife laws. This allows me to pick up on any illegal activity, such as the sales of protected species on the internet, which of course I report to the relevant authorities.

RESEARCH + DATA

I donate the skinned carcasses of birds of prey to the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme which allows researchers to gather various data which can create a bigger picture about the population and health status of certain birds. They also monitor the amount of lead found in birds from lead entering the food chain from game shoots. You can see how this can lead to legal action to stop lead pellets being used to protect our wildlife.

 
 
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Conclusion :
am I really vegan?

You can use the information I have provided and take my personal opinions and actions in to account to make up your own decision.

The bottom line is, I am trying my hardest to lead the most ethical, environmentally friendly lifestyle possible. I have a clean conscience now that I am not contributing to the meat, dairy and eggs industry or cruelty to animals, the environment will thank me, too.

That’s ‘vegan’ enough for me.

Taxidermy Muntjac Shoulder Mount

Taxidermy Muntjac Buck


Here’s something I am have been working on lately – my first Muntjac buck.

I’ve really enjoyed working on this project actually – before now I’ve put off doing antlered deer because I was dubious about sawing off the skull cap, but it wasn’t half as hard as I expected it to be!

After sawing off the skull cap (the part of the skull the antlers are attached to), I then boiled, salted and peroxided it before fixing it to the form.

This muntjac arrived to me already partially skinned/caped, but unfortunately it was cut slightly too short before the shoulder which means there was not enough skin to fit all around the form.

I have to find some way of concealing the bare patches. I propose to add in some branch and fern foliage to cover these areas.

I’ll post pictures once he’s all done! You can check out latest progress on my instagram: @Taxidermyco

Taxidermy Peacock V.2

Taxidermy Peacock – Second Edition!


I have recently began work on another gorgeous taxidermy Peacock!

It is unclear exactly what happened to this poor fella, but his owner said that he went over to the nearby farm with his mate, then she found him by the side of the road and said he died of shock. (He either got clipped by a car, or flew in to a phone wire)

He was just finishing his moult, so he had a tonne of pin feathers (an immature feather, before the veins have expanded and while the shaft is full of fluid) which makes it even more of a challenge as they fall out left, right and centre!

But considering how many feathers he lost, I am very happy with how he is turning out so far! (Please excuse state of workshop! Having a movearound and it appears I have used every single tool available whilst working on this fella!)

FUN FACT! –
Did you know, male peafowl (peacock) shed their long train every year after the mating season?

This is why this guy didn’t have a his new train. However, I am going to attempt to give him ‘Hair Extensions’  by reconstructing him a long train with single, long peacock feathers, naturally shed from another peacock. I’ll be sure to post the process once I make a start!

He will be for sale once complete.

Taxidermy Badger Commission

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I actually started this juvenile Eurasian Badger (Meles meles) a couple of months ago but he’s taken a while to complete!

This was the first badger specimen I have worked with, so I wasn’t sure what to expect! I was nervous of the various scent glands they have, but honestly, foxes smell much worse. The skin was also super thick and hard to process and his tummy reminded me of pig skin almost.

It was donated to me by a local wildlife officer who found him by the side of the road after being hit by a car.

Originally, the plan was to model him in an on all fours pose, but during the skinning process I noticed a large patch of fur that was missing just above his tail on his back that was heavily ‘grazed’ presumably from the traffic accident.

Unfortunately due to this, he did loose a fair bit of fur so I had to remove that area and sew back up which did disguise this patch somewhat, but this wasn’t his ‘best side’. I took the decision to pose him in this sitting upright position, which disguises the defects and now shows off his best features.

I absolutely hate it when things don’t go to plan, especially with commissions, but in scenarios like these, I have to decide what is best to do justice to the animal. It’s much better to work with what I’ve got than to dispose of the skin all together.

His skull is being processed by a fellow taxidermist friend who has dermestid beetles. She discovered that this young badger’s atlas bone was completely fused to his cranium so I am sure the poor thing wouldn’t have been able to have full flexibility of his head and may have even been in pain!

All in all, despite the challenges that came with this specimen, it’s been a great experience and a treat to see a Badger up close and personal as I’ve never seen one so close before!


 

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Guaranteed Christmas Delivery Dates

With the big day hurtling towards us, there’s some important information you need to know!

For guaranteed delivery before Christmas, please place any orders before the 18th December 2017!

Orders may still be fulfilled until 5pm on the 20th December at the very latest, but it’s best to get your orders in early for that guarantee.


The last day items will be sent out before Christmas and the New Year is the 23rd December 2017.

Orders will then resume to normal on the 2nd January 2018

Taxidermy Barn Owl in Flight

Taxidermy Barn Owl Commission


Sorry for lack of blog posts recently – following on from the last, my health has been playing up recently so I haven’t been able to get much done.

But here’s a few pictures of a lovely taxidermy Barn Owl I recently completed for a customer. This was my first ringed specimen I have worked with and found out it was ringed as a nestling in 2011 which was interesting!

She wanted it displayed in flight to accompany an existing tawny owl she had. She found the owl deceased in woodland, freshly dead, poor little thing.

I wanted to make the piece a little bit more dynamic by making it look as if the owl was just about to land on a branch. I did this by suspending the owl by one foot, having the other one ‘mid air’ about to clasp on to the branch.

At the same time, I did a bit of refurb work on the existing tawny owl she had (not mounted by me) de-dusting him and making him sparkle again.

I think the pair look impressive together!

I’m currently working on a full mount badger, so look out for that one in a blog post in the very near future, or see everything sooner as it happens on my Instagram page: @TaxidermyCo

 

Chronic illness diaries

As some of you may know if you’ve read my ‘about me’ page, I briefly mention my life altering chronic illness.

I live with Rheumatoid Arthritis (since the age of 9), Fibromyalgia/M.E, debilitating Chronic Fatigue and some other weird and wonderful ailments. Every day is a battle and I am rarely well enough to leave the house, so this is why I am an an artist and taxidermist.

It allows me to keep my mind off of my chronic pain and other symptoms and to work from home.

I do get days and weeks sometimes, where I am unable to leave my bed, so my work can sometimes be slow-going.

I’d like to take a moment to thank all of my customers for their patience and understanding whilst my health is not as good as it should be, I really do appreciate your support.

Although there isn’t a cure for my conditions, I hope for one day in the future that there is some solution that will give me some relief so I am able to experience life to the fullest and reduce my turnaround time for commissions.

But until then, I have to continue to manage my illnesses the best I can, take time out to recover when I need to and drink lots of tea!

– Krysten xx

Taxidermy Wren on Toadstool – project complete!

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I recently completed the little Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) I have been working on recently.

I experimented with crafting a Fly agaric toadstool out of epoxy clay for him to sit on, I am so happy with the end result!

The glass dome completes the piece and is now sitting pride of place in my nan’s dining room. She bought it from me before it had the chance to go on sale as she adored it so much!

I hope you like the finished piece, I will be experimenting with more fungi in the near future.

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Taxidermy Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) work in progress.

Taxidermy Wren


Earlier this year, I dropped my darling cat (sarcasm) off to the cattery as I was going on holiday. At the entrance, there was another cat’s ‘kill pile’ which I obviously scooped up, and in the pile was this gorgeous Wren! So small and delicate.

As this is the smallest thing I have worked with, I was very surprised at how he turned out, considering he got attached by a cat too! The smaller an animal is, the harder and more fiddly it is to work with!

Autumn marks the start of Fungi season and after feeling inspired by nature, this is what sparked the idea for this project.

I sculpted a typical toadstool (Fly agaric) from polymer clay and spray-painted it. After I had completed the wren, I mounted it on to the mushroom and created a little habitat base, I love how this turned out!

Just awaiting the glass dome now and it shall be another project complete.

I hope you like it!

Taxidermy Soft Mount Fox – 2nd Edition!

I’m delighted to have received another taxidermy ‘Soft Mount’ commission!

I have had a lot of enquiries about soft mounts recently, the popularity of them has seemed to of risen as of late.

What exactly is a ‘soft mount’? I hear you cry!


Soft mount taxidermy is where the skin of the animal is processed much the same way as it would be if it were a traditional mount.

The only difference is, that instead of the skin being mounted on to the rigid form (apart from the head that is still traditionally set on to a rigid cast of the skull), it is instead ‘stuffed’ with polyfill (the same stuff teddy bears are filled with!) to give a flexible, posable, floppy and cuddly effect.

Taxidermy Fox

Unlike facilities in America, the U.K does not have commercial tanneries (to my knowledge!) which allows taxidermists to send off the raw or ‘green’ pelts after skinning for them to process and be sent back as a flexible, fully cured and tanned pelt, ready for mounting.

This means I have to do every single process myself.

I shall not bore you with the technical details, but over the years, prior to ‘taxidermy-ing’ the skin, I have learned to do the following processes successfully in my workshop at home:

  • Skinning

  • De-fleshing

  • Salting

  • Pickling

  • Shaving

  • Neutralising

  • Tanning

  • Drying & Tumbling

  • Breaking the hide (which turns the skin side of the hide in to a flexible, suede like leather)

As well as hand-making the mannequin forms for the skin to be mounted on to, so a lot more skill is involved than simply just ‘Stuffing’ an animal!

I pride myself in being an ethical taxidermist, so absolutely NONE of the animals I work with are killed for the purpose of taxidermy. 

This is why my recent client chose to work with me on producing her ethical soft mount British Red Fox – the majority of soft mount fox’s I have seen on the internet are either sourced from fur-farms or hunted and trapped specifically for their fur (both of which I absolutely do not agree with)

She requested different coloured eyes and no armature, so he is extra flexible and cuddly!

I’m gonna miss him when he goes to his new home.

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Orders will resume 03/10/2017

I’ve been working non stop for the past few months, so I’m currently away on a much needed little break!

All orders made between 24/09/2017 – 02/10/2017 will resume on 03/10/2017

Any emails and enquiries made between these dates will also be replied to as soon as I am able to upon my return.

Taxidermy Co. is solely managed by myself,

sorry for any inconvenience!

-Krysten

Taxidermy Cockatiel – Work In Progress

Taxidermy Cockatiel


This week, I had a rummage through the freezer and found this little beauty!

A female captive bred cockatiel that died of natural causes.

British Wildlife will always be my number one passion, but I do enjoy working with something a bit more exotic once in a while.

It always amazes me in the washing and drying process how be-draggled they look. I always think

“there’s no way that this is going to resemble a bird again”

but somehow, it always does! Gives you an idea of the resilience of these creatures.

I have placed her on a simple handmade turned wood perch.

 

She will be available to purchase as soon as she has dried and set, please get in touch to make reservations.

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