From the frying pan to beach fashion, this frog hunter let no part of her catch go to waste when she made her own bizarre swimwear.
Everyone knows the work of Dr. Seuss, great American poet, illustrator, children’s book author…and taxidermist of things that don’t exist.
Theodor Geisel with the Turtle-Necked Sea-Turtle and the Goo-Goo-Eyed Tasmanian Wolghast
The pioneers of modern taxidermy perfected their art for the purpose of putting wild and exotic species from remote corners of the world on display for the general public, to educate and promote conservation. When Dr. Seuss did it, ‘the world’s most eminent authority on unheard-of animals,’ as Look magazine called him in 1938, was mounting a menagerie of whimsical creatures from his imagination.
Theodor Seuss Geisel began creating quirky taxidermy mounts of animals that would later fill the pages of his beloved children’s books in 1934. His father, who worked at the Springfield, Massachusetts zoo, where Geisel spent much of his childhood drawing, would gather horns, bills, and antlers of animals that died naturally and send them to his son in New York. Over the next several years Geisel used these parts to create 17 undeniably Seussian sculptures resembling the aftermath of a Whoville hunting party.
The collection, which includes rare specimens of the Kangaroo Bird, Flaming Herring, Andulovian Grackler, and Semi-Normal Green-Lidded Fawn, to name a few, was never intended for public sale. They were used now and then for promotional purposes, but Jeff Schuffman, an expert from The Art of Dr. Seuss project, told CBC Radio he believes Seuss created the Collection of Unorthodox Taxidermy for his own enjoyment.
Dr. Seuss with his taxidermy mounts
See the entire collection at The Art of Dr. Seuss.
A taxidermy replica of Bigfoot by artist Ken Walker has been drawing curious crowds this week at the World Taxidermy and Fish Carving Championships in Springfield, Missouri.
Crowds have been gathering for a curious sight this week at the World Taxidermy and Fish Carving Competition in Springfield, Missouri. Standing over six feet tall and covered in thick fur, the lifelike replica of Sasquatch was created by taxidermist Ken Walker. Walker is a veteran champion of the competition’s Re-Creations category, which is for mounts created using parts that are not from the species being portrayed.
For his female sasquatch, Walker carved the body from hard foam, and then used the hide of a Scottish Highland cow for the skin and fur.
- Related: Melissa Milgrome details Walker’s recreation of an extinct, prehistoric Irish Elk in her 2011 book Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy.
Taxidermy Bigfoot by Ken Walker. Photo courtesy of Katie Innamorato.
So why did a master taxidermist decide to craft such a controversial creature? In his article, journalist Wes Johnson writes:
A native of Canada, Walker said he saw something strange run across the road deep in the Alberta wilderness some 30 years ago and became fascinated with the legendary beast.
“It was on two legs during the bear season in the middle of nowhere — there were no cars, there were no people around,” he said. “I assumed whatever it was was a person. But they were like 400 yards away and running scared. It cleared a big ditch in one leap. I found it very odd because it ran up a hill without even slowing down. Even bears don’t do that.
“The guy with me said, ‘Was that a Sasquatch?’ And I said, ‘No, there’s no such thing.’ Back then you couldn’t convince me.”
Since then, however, Walker has heard enough stories to become a believer.
After many requests from fans of his work, the Smithsonian taxidermist set out to make a Bigfoot as realistic as he could, using his own experience, as well as the 1967 Patterson film as reference. The mount is the subject of an upcoming documentary called Big Fur. Apparently the cameras have been following him around the competition all week.
Big Fur Documentary
To catch a glimpse of Bigfoot yourself, the competition will be open to the public Friday and Saturday at the Springfield Expo Center. More info here.
The Milwaukee Public Museum’s new exhibit Crossroads of Civilization features a life size recreation of King Tut’s chariot, including two taxidermy Arabian horses.
The new Crossroads of Civilization exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum continues that legacy with a life size recreation of Tutankhamun’s chariot. To accomplish this, taxidermist Wendy Christensen was tasked with creating two white Arabian horses to pull the boy king.
The real challenge was getting the proportions historically accurate, as the features of King Tut’s horses would have been different than those of modern Arabians.
Molly Snyder via On Milwaukee:
Through research, Christensen learned that Tut’s horses would have been smaller – more the size of a modern pony – and looked different from today’s Arabian horses which have been bred to have slender muzzles, “dished-out” foreheads and wide-spread eyes. (Arabian horses always had these features, but they are more pronounced in the modern animals.)
Christensen worked with experts in the field of ancient horses and chariots and also visited a horse farm with an Arabian horse. She took more than 100 measurements of the horse and then, through research and information from experts, figured out how much she had to scale down her horse mannequins to serve as the main forms for the project.
Creating King Tut’s Arabian Horses
The Crossroads of Civilization exhibit opens March 15th. More info here.
A two-headed calf was born on a farm in South Carolina in 2012. It died shortly after birth, as is often the case. Once the initial shock wore off, farmer James Anderson decided to preserve the rare oddity.
He sent it off to Grover Bearden of Southland Taxidermy Studio in Easley, South Carolina. Bearden, a skilled taxidermist who also serves as vice president for the South Carolina Association of Taxidermy, took on the unique challenge.
The life-like mount was unveiled last week, garnering much media attention.
Bearden was kind enough to take some time to chat with me about his work and the opportunity to breathe life back into such an unusual specimen.
Cult of Weird: How long have you been a professional taxidermist?
Grover Bearden: I have been involved in the art of taxidermy for 16yrs with 4 of those years being my full time career. I am also a member of the National Taxidermy Association and a National Certified Taxidermist.
Have you mounted anything unusual before?
Bearden: The weirdest thing I had mounted before was snakes and a Spanish goat. I am always being asked what’s the weirdest thing I’ve done but didn’t really have much to say in reply.
What were your first thoughts when you saw the carcass of the two-headed calf?
Bearden: When I first saw the 2-headed calf it was a little bit shocking but in reality it was cool. It was Mother Nature at her worst or best, who knows what to call it? Either way I knew I had a challenge in front of me.
How long did it take to complete?
Bearden: I never ran a clock on my time but if I had to guess my total time I would have around 80hrs in this piece.
What were the the unique challenges involved?
Bearden: The challenges with this piece was it had two heads and other physical abnormalities and I had to make the mannikin to where the skin would fit it perfectly. I saved the carcass so that I could have it as a template to alter the mannikin to the same shape and size.
What is the general reaction people have when they see the calf for the first time?
Bearden: When some folks see it I think they don’t believe it’s real. I’ve been asked if they was birth mates. I just laughed and said yes but they only had one body. Others are simply amazed at what is before their eyes.
Are there any plans to articulate the skeleton or display the skull?
Bearden: I still have the carcass and am planning to articulate the skeleton. The calf had 2 separate skulls. It would’ve been cool if they was connected, but at the end of the neck was 2 atlas.
A reference photo shows the two-headed calf shortly after birth.
Bearden altered a standard calf mannikin to accommodate the second head.
Bearden putting some finishing touches on the calf.
All photos courtesy of Grover Bearden, Southland Taxidermy Studio
If you are interested in seeing the calf in person, Anderson plans to display it in his strawberry shop…if his wife will let him.