So you want to be taxidermist?!

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So you have decided to take the plunge and become a taxidermist.  Wonderful, I hope you get as much satisfaction and enjoyment as I do.

Taxidermy has a way allowing humans to observe death in safe environment. Our modern society shuns the dying and hides death from us. For some people taxidermy would be the first time they had to quietly ponder on a dead creature.

There may come a time when you wan to go beyond being a fan of taxidermy, to training as a taxidermist. A few truths need to be exposed for the romantics out there. Taxidermists are pretty much detailed butchers. We make big incisions into dead bodies, then pull out the flesh from the skin. If you don’t think you can do this to a rat, taxidermy is not for you.

A good test, before you buy all of your equipment, is to go to a large pet shop. A good pet store will stock frozen food for reptiles. Take home a pack of one x large rat. Only get one, as you don’t  want to store frozen rats in your home freezer. Put your gloves on and have your room ready ☆

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Place the frozen rat in the room to defrost.

Be honest with yourself.

Are you grossed out by touching the dead rat?

 

Do you avoid looking in the room do you don’t have to see the rat?

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As the rat slowly defrosts, does the softness of the tail gross you out?

If you answered yes to any of the above, taxidermy might not be for you.

If you wondering if you can handle the dead rat, here is another good test. When the rat is about 3/4 defrosted the belly will soften and become rounded. Softly touch the belly and feel how soft the insides are. If you find this disgusting, taxidermy is not for you. If you find yourself curious, you might be able to do it. Of course the true telling will be when you start your incisions and skinning. I don’t think I can help anyone over that hurdle.

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It is a good idea to do the rat test to see if your suited. Do this before you buy any equipment. If you find that the rat test made you intrigued and curious, then a good place to go is my page    which discusses a first basic taxidermy.

 

 

 

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Your first taxidermy.

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First of all I want you to know that I will not be posting images that show graphic incisions and inside body parts. I will adding drawn images for that information.

I will b posting images that show a rat whole, skinned and other necessary images to show process. If you have never done a taxidermy,  please read my post ‘So you want to be a Taxidermist’

 

About True North Art Taxidermy

Thank you for coming to see True North Art . My name is Anne North and I’m am a novice taxidermist.The main content of this blog will be my story in hopefully becoming a professional taxidermist. I have had no taxidermist training or experience. This is not from lack of trying. There are no ‘official’ training courses for taxidermy in Australia.

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After holding back for years, thinking that a taxidermist guru should pop into my life, I decided to just go for it.

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I began with already deceased birds that I found on my walks, or on the side of the road. At this stage I was only collecting the bones.

True North’s other life

I am a neophyte taxidermist, that is the basis of this blog. Learning my trade with no instruction or teacher. If I make mistakes, I’ll learn from them. Come along for my story as I show you my trip through my novice path. Most images will be 18+, please no children. All deceased animals are environmentally and humanely sourced.

This post will be about what I get up to when I’m not doing taxidermy or out earning a living. Before taxidermy I had a background focused on the arts. In my past a long, long time ago I was an Art Teacher. Since then I have focused on my own art career and exhibitions.

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This is me with some porcelain bowls I made this year.

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Sorry about the image, I’ll get a better one. One of my semi-abstract flower paintings. Oil on canvas. Lots of gold in my oil paintings.

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A cyanotype is a very early form of photography. Cyanotype is a liquid that is light sensitive. When you paint it on paper it has no colour, when you put it out into the sunlight for around a minute, it turns a beautiful blue. If you place objects onto the paper, while its in the sun, you get a direct negative image where the light didn’t hit the paper. Here I used Australian native flora.

Here’s another one I did with roses.

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I also dapple in ink and watercolours.

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Here’s an etching

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I am also a believer in #foodisfree concept. Here is a picture of my veggie patch, it’s much bigger now.

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I also take minature toy photos. You can see them on instagram  on @annenorthartist .

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A taxidermist tool kit

In the following pics I will shown you my taxidermy kit. I’ll go through the objects and what they do. If you are planning to train in taxidermy, you do not need all of the stuff I have. At the end of my kit I will give a small list of what I think is ‘essential’.

studio_20161213_182158studio_20161213_182038In the top pic I have shown my basic containers for a small beginners project. On the right are small see-through dishes of different sizes. These are used for bones that need to be kept. You can easily place stickers on the top to identify what carcass the bones are from. I will discuss identification methods and data collection at a later post.

At the back are larger containers with red lids. These are used for carcass flesh that needs to be binned. Note the lids are well sealed.

On the left are measuring jugs, these are used to measure chemicals and other fluids.

The next photo shows the top shelf of my 8 litre kit. I have more ‘things’, that I have taken out. The shelf includes various lengths of thin balsa wood. These are used to hold back bits of carcass while you cut. I use craft ‘stretchy jelly’ wire. This wire is used in craft projects to make easy bracelets.  I use it to tie arms or whatever to forceps or other braces. Other taxidermists use other products, but I have found the jelly wire to be flexible and not abrasive to the body.

I also bring spray tubes of disinfectant. Even though I would use good quality gloves, I would also use any standard disinfectant gel. Also good quality hand wipes. These are good for both your hands and dirty blades.

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The above image shows products that are useful at various stages of the taxidermy process. After the flesh of the animal has been removed, it needs to be replaced with something else. Cheese cloth and cotton is sometimes used to stuff and shape the body. Taxidermists will build a ‘double’ of the flesh that they have removed. This would normally be built around a wire skeleton. As a general rule, the closer you get the cotton body to look identical to the original flesh, the better.

The paint strainer bags are used during the beginning stages of decomposition. If you are only wanting the bones of an animal, strainer bags are useful. One method of stripping the flesh from a carcass is to let the body sit in a sealed container of water. Some people change the water every now and then. After a while the flesh will decompose and make removal of flesh easier. Rather than have to sift through a tub of disgusting smelling meat, place the carcass in the bag and then put it in the tub of cold water. It just makes a nasty job a little easier. Be warned, the water will have the worst smell on the planet.

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Here is my dissection kit. Good veterinary kits can be found on ebay, that is where I found mine. Don’t bother with cheap scalpels and scissors from craft shops. You will need a vet / surgeon grade scalpel, with spare blades. You can do with 1 scalpel and 1 pair of scissors, but they must be good quality.