Taxidermy for all

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Taxidermy has enjoyed a bit of a surge in popularity in the last few years, as surveyed by Alexis Turner in his 2013 book Taxidermy. In the Museum, the touchable taxidermy animals are always popular, especially Mandy the much-stroked pony, the removal of which we fear might cause a public outcry.

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Derek Frampton, centre, leads the workshop

Of course it’s all very well stroking cute, furry taxidermy animals, but have you got the, well, guts to have a go at it yourself? We suspected that plenty of people not only have the guts but also the desire so we set up a workshop with professional taxidermist Derek Frampton, whose work is regularly on display in the Museum. It’s the first time we have offered a taxidermy workshop, but despite the £175 cost for the specimen, materials and tuition, the day was easily oversubscribed.

And what a great session it was. Five excited and enthusiastic members of the public (and one equally excited education officer) were given expert tuition in a step by step guide to create their very own taxidermy jackdaw.

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Blow dry in the lab

It wasn’t for the squeamish either because the birds were not pre-skinned, so there was some down and dirty hands-on work to be done before the pretty stuff could begin. The whole process took from 10am until 6.30pm with barely a break. Nonetheless, one participant said that the time flew by (no pun intended, we assume) and another said:

I don’t believe it, I thought we were just going to get a pre-prepared skin, not do the whole thing in a day! That was excellent!

The bird you can see at the top of the post is the creation of the over-excited education officer, Chris Jarvis. He’s named it Scratch because it was made entirely from – yep – scratch. Being a remarkably clever corvid, he (she?) now perches loftily above the rest of the Education team, squawking edicts from time to time.

Given the success of the workshop we may well run another in the future, so keep your eye on our quarterly programme for that. And if you’d like to join our mailing list, email communications@oum.ox.ac.uk and I’ll add your address.

Scott Billings – Communications officer

 

 

 

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