The Biggest Smallest Challenge! – Taxidermy Goldcrest

The Goldcrest (Regulus regulus), along with the Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus) is the UK’s smallest bird, weighing just 5.5 grams – about the weight of a 10 pence piece!


Needless to say, this bird was definitely going to be a challenge due to it’s size, so I have been putting it off for a while now.

Small birds seem to just fall apart from even the warmth of your hands, so did 90% of this project with tweezers alone!

After soaking in an alcohol solution to set the feathers and prevent bacteria before I started work.

It was extremely fiddly to do, but over all I am pretty happy with how this little one has turned out!

The hardest part was probably wiring the legs.

On all birds, to be able to attach them to their base/perch, I have to insert wire through the ball of their foot, all the way up their legs into the body cavity, where they are attached to the body form.

Take a look at the ‘behind the scenes’ photos to really get a sense of just how small this specimen is!

Work update!

Work & life update!

I’ve recently been going through a bit of a tough time, so have unfortunately had to take a little bit of time out from my work, hence the radio silence, sorry guys.


(Not to mention, I now have a little puppy, Ruby, who is taking up most of my time at the minute, but she’s cute so I’ll let her off!)

The last project I was able to work on, was this beautiful melanistic pheasant.

The customer wanted him in a ‘strutting’ pose. Extra wire enforcement is needed to maintain this posture, which are hidden within the legs (visible wires will not be included in the final piece, they are just back up whilst he dries).

I really love working with birds in motion, I think it gives them so much more movement and life within a piece.

White Pheasant Commission

Leucisitic Hen Pheasant Commission


Here’s another project I am working on at the moment, a leucistic hen pheasant.

White birds are always a challenge – a) Because white feathers are very delicate, due to the lack of melanin and b) generally a little bit more work is involved with removing blood stains from them!

This pheasant was particularly problematic due to having smashed bones everywhere, including the skull! So a lot of repair work had to be done.

Having said that, I’m pleased with how she has turned out!

 

Taxidermy Green Woodpecker (Juvenile)

Taxidermy Green Woodpecker Commission


Here’s the latest commission all finished up – a lovely little Juvenile Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis) who sadly came in to my hands after flying in to a window.

I can tell that this one is a male, because he has signs of a red area within his black ‘moustache’, whereas females’ are solid black.

This is the first woodpecker I have worked with. I’ve been wanting to work with one for ages because they have some pretty cool anatomical features!

Also, I think from now on, I’m going to tell you a little fact about each specimen I work with, so here I go (this one will blow your mind):

Woodpecker’s skulls have a groove in between the eyes on the right hand side to allow for storage of their super long tongue.

I wanted to get some good photos to show you guys, but unfortunately this one’s skull was fractured really badly in to lots of pieces, so it made it a bit difficult! (I have a few more woodpeckers to do in the near future though, so I will show you in detail then, it’s SUPER fascinating!)

Along with a fractured skull, this young woodpecker also had some blow fly eggs embedded in certain areas – a taxidermists’s worst nightmare! So unforuately he is a little scruffy in some areas, but Juveniles are generally a little scruffy anyways – I think it gives him character.

Wader Chicks! Latest needle felted ‘Faux Taxidermy’

Needle Felted Faux Taxidermy Chick


I’ve recently continued my needle felting adventure in making some super adorable wader chicks!

Check out the first one, a little ringed plover chick. He took little over 3 hours to complete, I’m so pleased with how he turned out, I can’t wait to make more!

I already have ideas in the pipeline on how I can introduce these ‘faux taxidermy’ pieces in to real taxidermy projects! A tawny owl with an owlet, perhaps?

I’m having a lot of fun finding out what baby birds have the most ‘cute’ factor – most seem to be waders so far (I LOVE their clumsy long legs)


If you have any ‘cute chick’ suggestions, please feel free to let me know! – info@taxidermyco.uk or tweet me at @taxidermyco 🙂

Taxidermy Muntjac Shoulder Mount Commission

Taxidermy Muntjac Shoulder Mount


This was my first ever shoulder mount commission! A lovely Muntjac Buck.

He was a challenge to work with because the cape of the deer was cut just before the shoulder, so it didn’t fit around the form properly, leaving some areas exposed.

It’s my job to find solutions to problems and to make thins work. After a lot of searching for the ‘right’ branch, I made it an attachment to the piece to disguise these bare areas where the skin was too short.

As this is a Breckland buck, I thought it would also be a nice touch to include some bracken leaves.

Despite the difficulties this specimen presented, I am actually pleased with the end result!

IMPORTANT INFO – I’m away!

Short Break


I’ll be on a little break from 04-12 March to recharge my batteries!

I’m going to a national park in Spain to see some wild Griffon Vultures and other amazing birds, I’m super excited about it!

All enquiries/orders placed will be responded to and processed as soon as I am back home in the UK.

Thank you for your patience,

– Krysten

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

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