Taxidermy originates from a few Greek terms, one defining the term as an “arrangement of skin.” As for the modern day taxidermy definition, it describes the various manners used to reproduce a life-like three-dimensional representation of an animal meant for permanent display. There’s normally two methods used to create the specimen, one using the actual skin of the animal. This would include real feathers, fur, scales and other parts of the specimen that is preserved and mounted over an artificial armature. The other method used involves man-made materials in which the specimen is created using only those materials.
The other Greek terms used to define taxidermy word are “derma” and “taxis.” The word “derma” represents skin while “taxis” means movement. Together, these two terms are thought to represent “the movement of skin,” which makes a lot of sense. After all, taxidermy involves working with the skin and there’s an art involved in every step of creating a life-like specimen for display. Taxidermy involves moving the skin and placing it on an artificial body, hence the life-like look you get from re-creating the animal.
There’s a dedication and craft that’s involved bringing these specimens back to life. There’s a wide range of techniques that is used to create a specimen, some work being new and others belonging to traditions that have been passed down for decades. Woodworking, casting, molding and carpentry are used to recreate the structure and real-life look. Then we have sculpting, drawing and painting to give the piece that extraordinary look that brings it to life. Taxidermist from all around the world are craftsmen and many of them have dedicated their entire life to recreate the memories a trophy specimen can bring.
One of the most popular and commonly used specimens is the deer head mount. While the deer head mount can be claimed as a trophy, many of them represent a special memory and place in time. The only natural parts used for the deer head are the antlers and skin. The rest of the animal is recreated with man-made materials. Products such as epoxy and polyurethane foam are used to recreate soft tissue and muscle. The eyes of the deer are created with glass. The same materials can be used for other animals and specimens.
There’s an art to each specimen, incredible examples that are displayed proudly all over the world. You can find their work in schools and museums, as well as businesses and homes. There’s a number of different mount types you can get. Below, you’ll find Shawn’s gallery where you can view hundreds of specimens. Just follow the links below.
Want to be a better taxidermist? Learn from one of the top taxidermy experts in the world. Check out Shawn’s taxidermy workshops.