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As far as design trends go, the stuffing and mounting of dead animals is a weird one. And yet, fake taxidermy is so ubiquitous in shelter magazines and Brooklyn bars these days, it’s more likely to elicit an eye roll than a shiver. But a handful of DIYers are, er, breathing new life into the artform, forgoing cheesy wall-mounted deer heads and instead creating bespoke objects to decorate their apartments, according to the New York Times.
Think mice drinking tea, rabbits playing the guitar and hybrid, multi-headed creatures straight out of science fiction. “It’s kind of like sculpture, kind of like painting, almost like hairdressing, almost like sewing,” one Los Angeles taxidermy student tells the Times. “I thought it would be all science-y, and I’m, like, fluffing up this bird’s hair, trying to give it some volume.”
Ready to try it out? Three things you need to know, per the Times:
How to find critters: Contrary to popular belief, DIY taxidermy does not involve stuffing pets, and it seems the new generation of taxidermists is keen to source their animals ethically. One self-taught practitioner in Cleveland gets her animals from Rodent Pro, a company that caters to pet stores and zoos, which feed the rabbits, mice, squirrels and guinea pigs to reptiles and large cats. Another gets her stock from pest control operators or game breeders, which have animals that died of natural causes. But if you sign up for a class (more on that below), most instructors will provide all the supplies.
What it'll cost: You’ll pay between $100 and $500, according to the Times. Classes run for several hours, and include a rundown of how to skin, disembowel and wire the animal, plus grooming skills to make the sculptures as life-like as possible.
Where to sign up: Taxidermy lessons are offered at natural history museums, nature centers, tattoo parlors and even restaurants, per the Times. Here in New York, the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Gowanus is offering a class on anthropomorphic taxidermy, “a practice in which taxidermy animals are posed as if engaged in human activities,” per the museum’s website, this Saturday afternoon. The class runs $110 for a one-headed animal or $125 for two-headed, and includes all supplies. Students will go home with their own creation, plus conversation material for months' worth of Brooklyn dinner parties.