Saturday, June 14, 2008

Not as squeamish as I thought I was...

Today we visited a taxidermy studio!

Mr. Bob Brown is perhaps the nicest taxidermist you'd ever want to meet. I must admit, I don't know any other taxidermists but I'd like to think they're all like Mr. Brown.

Perhaps you recall my earlier post regarding my daughters sudden interest in taxidermy? Well, her adviser (Melanie) at The New School contacted Mr. Brown and this morning we all (Melanie, Myself, My Daughter and a friend) went to meet the man, ask questions and discover what secrets he knows about skinning and stuffing dead things.

Hopefully I'll have some pics to post later as my daughter had her camera and took some shots of the main part of the studio, which houses everything from Alligators to Turtles... Bison to Zebras... With a whole lot of deer, squirrels, ducks and fish thrown in.

The first part of our visit with Mr. Brown involved a lengthy story about just 'how' he managed to score a GIANT polar bear. The story involves a Horatio Alger type character, who sold his multi-million dollar company and now hunts the world over. Eventually we got down to the nitty gritty and began discussing just 'how' one goes about making something dead look alive. We discussed everything from teeth to goose fat, which I should add if not completely removed, can liquefy, run down the legs and drip on your den floor.

Eventually a kid, roughly my daughters age, came out of the back room and Mr. Brown asked him if the fox was ready yet. A few minutes later the kid, who they refer to as 'HP' because with glasses on they think he looks like 'Harry Potter' (I didn't see it)... Anyway, 'HP' comes back and says he's got the fox ready. We were then invited into the workshop to see for ourselves 'skinning' in action. I should note here that my daughter just adores foxes. She has images of foxes she swaps out as screensavers on her computer. The fox we saw however, would likely, only merit a screensaver on a pc located somewhere on the 3rd level of hell. Our lad HP was standing at a workbench with scalpel in hand, carefully separating the skin from the muscle. Was my daughter horrified to see her favorite little woodland creature as a mass of tendons and muscle? Oh NO! You see, this is NO girly-girl we're discussing here... Quite the contrary, she was fascinated!... And quite frankly, so was I... Not so much about what I was seeing but that I was seeing it AND it wasn't really bothering me... Go figure?

At one point Mr. Brown took us to a workshop annexed off the main back room where the freeze dryer was stored. I kinda blanked out when Mr. Brown described the freeze drying process so I wasn't all that interested.... I was instead awed by the number of deer heads that rested all over the room, at least a dozen of them leaned against work benches and walls in various states of polish. I considered asking Mr. Brown if at any point he had visions or nightmares of deer chasing him down to skin and stuff him, but thought it better to keep my wild imagination to myself.

I should mention the reason Mr. Bob Brown decided to become a taxidermist. He tells that one day, thirty some odd years ago as he was preparing a pheasant he killed for meat, he thought to himself, "What a waste of this beautiful creature." You see, Mr. Brown treasures nature and appreciates the beauty of each animal he works on. He told us he spends a great deal of time studying the movements and subtle expressions, unique to each variation of animal. I admire Mr. Brown for not wanting to be a taxidermist to showcase the pride of a kill but to instill a further appreciation for the creature.

As we drove away from the studio I asked my daughter if the experience made her think twice, or cement her decision, to try her hand at taxidermy. She said, "Oh most definitely TRY IT! I can't WAIT!"... I think she's excited for the same reason Mr. Brown taught himself taxidermy... Because they both love animals.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Carrie said...

We've got a red fox that hangs around our property just a wee bit too much, I wouldn't mind having him freeze dried, glass eyed, and propped on our hearth ;)

6:01 PM, June 14, 2008  
Blogger Carrie said...

My husband is a finishing carpenter and I often get "private" tours of the houses he has worked in and I am amazed at the number of people that have crystal clear glass shower doors or huge walk in showers with no door at all!

I remain hidden behind a double layer of shower curtains in a dimly lit shower.

6:08 PM, June 14, 2008  
Blogger EmBee said...

Okay Carrie, I completely understand the first comment but am wondering about the second...???

Did you somehow already know that I have a glass shower door that is right in the line of sight of a GIANT mirror and try as I might it's difficult to keep my eyes averted so as not to have to catch a glimpse of myself in that GIANT UNFORGIVING mirror!!!

6:44 PM, June 14, 2008  
Anonymous christie said...

How cool that your daughter was able to see all that first hand. It's so neat to have that experience.

11:33 PM, June 14, 2008  
Blogger lime said...

that's really great. i'm so glad you were both able to have that experience and get to know mr. brown and some of his motivations. glad the whole thing didn't gross you out either.

7:17 AM, June 16, 2008  
Anonymous Christy said...

That's great! It may seem a little odd to some, but at least she has an interest in soemthing & she's willing to try something different--girl power! I think you're great for supporting her.

12:28 PM, June 16, 2008  
Anonymous Mar said...

Hi! Came over from SITS. Ummm that taxidermy thing made my tummy turn :( Your daughter is so brave! How old is she? I don't mind looking at stuff once it's been stuffed (although I do find it a little creepy, I think it's the fake eyes) but I could not imagine seeing it be done. However, I do think it's important to nurture our kids' interests... it's a good thing mine are still toddlers lol...

8:46 AM, June 17, 2008  
Blogger EmBee said...

Hi Mar! Thanks for stopping by. My daughter is 15 and trust me, when the doctor announced, "It's a Girl!" it wouldn't take long before I found out that particular statement meant nothing I thought it to mean.

My daughter isn't a tomboy, it's just that her interests are so outside of the norm. She NEVER played with a doll in her entire life, though I tried, oh, how I tried. She collected bugs and toads and nature things... She's just a nature girl at heart.

She's proof that kids will be what they will be and we just have to stand back and give them the wings to fly in that direction.

Good luck with your little ones!
:-)

9:51 AM, June 17, 2008  

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