Back when we first began Observatory (the lecture space I co-run), we had a wine-soaked brainstorm session of all of the amazing events, lectures, screenings, shows, and classes we wanted to host in our then-empty room. Of all of the many ideas, the one I was most excited about was hosting a taxidermy class. 2 years later, after searching far and wide, Joanna finally found an amateur taxidermist to teach it! Last night, I was able to squeeze into one of only 4 classes, and only then because I'm a member of Observatory. Otherwise it would have been the waiting list for me - these classes have been incredibly popular. I guess I'm not the only girl in Brooklyn interested in pulling the guts out of animals. (The class of about 15 was comprised entirely of girls...there were a few boys in the previous class, but it's so interesting that taxidermy seems to so strongly attract the ladies. Pay attention fellas looking for a cute, hip girl with a strong stomach - they're all at Observatory stuffing mice!)
*DISCLAIMER* I love animals, and I do not believe in the killing of animals to create new taxidermy - I only collect antique and vintage pieces that have been dead many years. These mice are no exception. Sue, the teacher of the class, gets her mice from a place where mice are raised to feed pet snakes and other reptiles. The mice she receives are too old to sell as food for pets and would literally be thrown away otherwise.
To be honest, the taxidermy process, at least for a little mouse, was much less gross than I expected. It's a lot less about guts and a lot more about very gentle, tiny work. Well - de-braining was a bit disconcerting, but it only lasted a second and then it was over.
Here I am preparing to put my clay form into my mouse skin with a small group of strangers doing the same.
One girl putting the finishing touches on her Houdini mouse.
This mouse captain was pretty cute.
I had a time trying to work out how to keep tiny glasses on a mouse whose ears wouldn't stand up.
My mouse! He is a young, bookish Victorian gone a-courting. I was going to give him away as a gift, but I don't think I can ever part with him. Just look at that face! Just look at it!
More info here on the Taxidermy Classes at Observatory