Posts Tagged ‘taxidermy’

The slaughtered lamb

1231439383446_0.jpgHere are the much delayed and often promised pictures of the finish work on the lamb. As you might remember, I had to make significant changes to the taxidermy form. Once that was finished, I began covering the lamb with lambskin. I looked for a good fake fur version, but could only find them in black. Even from a distance, the fur is frequently the thing that gives the animal away, so I often wind up using real furn. This isn’t a pelt, mind you, so it isn’t shaped like a lamb. This means that I have to piece it together on the taxidermy form. Here I’m working on the leg and pinning the fur in place with thumbtacks while the glue dries.

20090110113358_0.jpgAs I work my way around the head, you can see both the foam taxidermy form and the way I’m piecing the skin together.

20090110120409-1.jpgOnce it is in place, I have to press the skin into the seam of the mouth. To orient you, the two divets above my fingers are the lamb’s nose. I widened the mouth area in the foam to allow space for the thickness of the skin. I’m using small nail to force the skin into place.

20090110123948_0.jpgHere’s the lamb’s face with the fur in place, but untrimmed.

20090110140210_0.jpgI’ve trimmed the fur, but not yet installed the eyes or finished painting it.

20090114102223_0.jpgAnd here it is, completed and in the position that the director wanted it to be in for the show.

Ironically, during previews, the lamb was cut from the show. This happens sometimes with new plays, but it always amuses me when it does, because it is inevitably the most expensive prop.

Making the lamb

Removing the rodsTo begin, I need to take the rods of the taxidermy lamb form that I’ve ordered. These are intended to make it easy to mount the lamb on a board, but I won’t be doing anything like that. It will be laying in the back seat of a car, partially in a bag.

1231382684603 Next, I notch the foam at the shoulder to give me room to bend the front leg. I want the lamb to be lying down instead of standing, so I have to reshape it slightly.

1231383533818Including cutting it in half so I can rotate the hips. In a real animal, the spine would follow suit, but here we just use a hack saw and some good old fashioned bamboo skewers. I’ve also cut off one of the hind legs so I can reposition it.

1231383659342Because this won’t need to move ever, I just taped it into place while the glue is setting. It’s like a cheap version of papier mache. I also used a rasp and a knife to take the hard edges off where I cut the lamb.

Lamb formAnd here is the lamb assembled, with head, and ready to be covered with its skin.

Things said at work, redux

Things I say

  1. I’m moving back to Shimmer land. Screw the gods.
  2. Just be sure you aren’t screwing when the actors get there.
  3. Can I get a stiffer rod?
  4. I can retain his rods if I hold them between my pelvis and his head
  5. May I touch your dead animal head?
  6. He couldn’t get it up.
  7. All I have to do is buy this moosehead and then pick up some KY jelly.
  8. I think I can give you a donut but I’ll have to sacrifice a baby bunny
  9. Give me a second to wash the blood off my hands
  10. All right. Who wants to be tied up?

What it really means

  1. I had been painting Greek gods for a show all day and needed to get back to layout
  2. Discussing set construction at a theater.
  3. The metal rod had too much spring in it for the weight of the puppet’s hand.
  4. I kept dropping the arm rods of a puppet that stood waist high.
  5. I was moving some taxidermy heads
  6. At the end of a long day, a puppeteer was too fatigued to lift his arm, and heavy puppet, over his head.
  7. I needed to complete a purchase of a taxidermied moose head on e-bay to be used as set dressing in a show about Teddy Roosevelt. The next item on my to-do list was to pick up KY jelly for another show. It goes in the bottom of ashtrays as a fire safety measure.
  8. We needed a donut to appear magically on stage. The only foam that I had that had the right density was part of a baby bunny prop.
  9. I was mixing stage blood and had it all over my hands
  10. I needed to test a trick rope that had a quick release.

Shopping for my job

My shopping list this week included: Taxidermy moose head, KY Jelly, 2 lbs feathers, balloons, fishing line
Glock or revolver, and a mousetrap.

I actually said the sentence, “As soon as I buy the moose head, I have to go pick up some KY jelly.”

What’s the strangest combination of things you’ve ever bought?

Walking in NYC with taxidermy

I was picking up props for \"Bully Pulpit.\"If you want to have conversations with your neighbors, a good way to do it is to walk down the street with a cart of taxidermy. They might start conversations with such openers as”

“My god!”

“What is it?”

“Are they real?”

“May I touch your dead animal heads?”

I’m doing props for Bully Pulpit, a show about Teddy Roosevelt, who was a big hunter. The whole thing is set in the North Room at Sagamore Hill which was decorated with… yes, taxidermy. I found these heads on Craig’s List and they were only ten blocks from my house. Clearly, I was not going to pass up a chance to interact with my fellow New Yorkers.

One poor woman, who must have been a serious vegan, had a look of absolute horror on her face while her son was totally fascinated. Her husband stopped with their daughter so I could explain about taxidermy and theater. She stood behind them looking like she wanted to throw up.

I’ll bet they have a very interesting conversation when they get home.

Everyone else I passed seemed either completely indifferent or amused.