Pretty little things
It’s been a very longstanding ambition of mine to embark upon some taxidermy classes. I’ve collected the bell jars, oggled at the beautiful array of species at the Natural History Museum and so I finally got round to doing my first class at the London Taxidermy Academy. Whilst some might argue butterflies can’t quite be categorised as taxidermy strictly speaking, I definitely knew I was opting for the soft option to ease me in gently into this fascinating past time.
Taught by Lee, it was a three hour long class in London Bridge in a group no bigger than 6. Taken through the basics of re-hydrating the samples, we were reassured they were sourced from a butterfly farm just outside London and had died of natural causes. Using gin to re-hydrate them (and being conveniently sponsored by Hendricks!), we were taught how to gently separate their wings and pin them ready for mounting. A very patient teacher indeed, being notoriously heavy handed, I definitely had my work cut out for me.
Having managed to assemble 12 butterflies, I left with some stunning samples that are ready for mounting. It was incredibly therapeutic using your hands to create something, after a long and stressful day at work, when your focus is entirely on preserving these delicate species with care and patience, any stress melted away and we chatted about some of the more unusual taxidermy requests Lee had had, such as inquiries from avid cat lovers wishing to preserve their Mr Tiddles ‘as the joyful cat he was’.
There were remarks made about how once you’ve done one class it can get addictive, you instantly want to learn more and progress to the next stage of learning the craft and it is entirely true. I am already eyeing up my next class and it’s going to be something a little larger for my heavy handed self to get to grips with. So if you see a stealthy person wondering the parks searching for deceased animals, chances are it might be me…(I hope that doesn’t come across as creepy as it sounds).
Check out the London Taxidermy Academy’s classes here.