Taxidermy’s currently in the middle of a bit of a boom. Enter any newly opened bar or open Time Out and you’ll find stuffed creatures or lessons to make your own. Some of these courses endeavour to revive the lost art, while others teeter on McDonald’s salad levels of questionable. On attending one of the reputable courses, held by Amanda Autopsies as Barts Pathology, not only did I learn a bit of the craft, but also a few things about myself.
Firstly, I can’t sew. Not at all.
This knowledge has probably lingered at the back of my mind since birth, but engaging in taxidermy brought it crashing home that sewing is not a skill is possess, nor ever plan to. Apparently, looping the thread round and round like you’re wrapping up an extension cord is not the way forward. If, like me, your sewing skills are in the abyss, you’re going to going to experience the following in taxidermy:
- stuffing will pop out small holes all over the place
- people nearby will probably laugh at you
- you’ll jab the needle into your finger several times a minute
- realising sewing is outdated and insane, you’ll resort to gluing your specimen shut
Then you’ll glue the eyes on too and it’ll look like this.
For those who aren’t needle challenged, you’ll also discover that it’s really fun and not remotely gross/sick/weird/smelly as the majority of people assume and the majority of places advertise. If you can cook a roast, you can deal with stuffing a specimen. That is, unless you get too cocky with the scalpel and cut into the creature’s guts. At this point, your life will start to suck and you’ll have to come to terms with what your nose is experiencing.
The Course Itself
The course, run by Amanda Autopsies, involved a series of blow by blow demonstrations of each stage of the craft, followed by attempting to replicate it yourself, with the guidance of the talented one.
What becomes obvious, like many skills is, during the demonstrations, it all looks very simple. Go back to try it yourself, however, and it suddenly becomes a different matter. Nothing is ever as easy as it seems when you see a pro go at it-except ukulele which isn’t a real instrument. Still, while it’s not as easy as they make it look, you can pick up the basics fast enough to make a good go of it in your first time. Even if your ‘good go of it’ looks like some kind of science experiment.
If you ever want to learn a new skill, you’re curious or you just love to put cotton wool in things, get onto a course. And make sure it’s one of the good ones and doesn’t involve soaking your subject in vinegar before microwaving it.
And remember, however bad you may be at it, I’ll always be worse.