I have decided to spotlight some of the vendors that will be included in our upcoming Holiday Art Star Craft Bazaar. The first in the series is an interview with Beth Beverly from Diamond Tooth Taxidermy. Keep checking our blog for more interviews leading up to the bazaar. I hope to post a new one a few times a week. Enjoy!
Company: Diamond Tooth Taxidermy
Proprietor: Beth Beverly
Located In: Philadelphia, PA
Art Star:When I first met you, we were at Tyler School of Art together & you majored in jewelry/metals there. How/when did you transition into taxidermy?
Beth Beverly: I’ve always incorporated natural fibers into my work, and while studying at Tyler I attempted to continue this ( to varying degrees of success ) using fur, hair and leather in some pieces. While I adore all things metal, in the end it wasn’t such a good fit for me and I spent the next ten years dabbling in a crude sort of self-taught taxidermy before listening to my heart and making the decision to fully jump into the craft.
AS: Does your jewelry/metals background inform your current work?
BB:I was working on a brooch today wishing I still had access to that metals studio! (sigh…) There are many times when I would like to incorporate metal fabrication into the structure of a piece. Lucky for me, I have friends like Maria Eife who have properly equipped studios and enough patience to assist me in realizing my designs. Ultimately I’d like to have a skilled jeweler on hire to fabricate structures for me so I don’t have to divert my focus from the taxidermy. To me, there isn’t much quite so striking as the look of sleek, shiny metal against deep, rich fur or feathers.
AS: Tell us a bit about the types of items that you make. Do you mostly work on custom orders or do you have a specific line of items that you offer for sale?
BB: Just about everything I make is wearable. I do custom sculptural pieces as well but my passion lies in headgear. I do sell items from my etsy shop, but most of the income I draw from my art is from custom orders. I seem to have a knack for understanding what a client wants; and I really appreciate the trust they have in me. Aside from that, I am constantly creating hats for events and competitions that wind up on my site for sale or rent, to whomever’s fancy they may strike.
AS: How do you find all of the animals that you work with?
BB: I make a point of stressing to inquiring minds (especially those on the fence about taxidermy) that I source all my specimen as ethically as possible. This means using roadkill when legal, domestic pets, anything which has expired naturally, or buying hunted game from my local butcher. I just adore Sonny D’angelo on 9th street, he’s an absolute peach and gets me some choice rabbits, pheasants and quail, which I skin and then make delicious meals out of. I also buy squirrels and starlings from hunting taxidermy buddies, the meat of which goes into cat food.
AS: What is the most interesting or weirdest thing someone has commissioned you to make?
BB: Right this moment I am working on a cat for my #1 client. It was her pet, and she loved this creature dearly. I am well aware of the mixed feelings that go along with preserving pets, and I understand both sides. I see it as an honor and a challenge though, and as a lifelong cat person this has been the most emotionally stirring project for me yet. It’s nowhere near done; thankfully she is a very patient client because I refuse to rush these things.
AS: Are you able to focus on Diamond Tooth full time or do you have a day job?
BB: I moonlight as a performer at local events; you may have seen me twirling in my hoop as an aerialist or perhaps I have even poured your champagne while hanging upside down from a large chandelier rig. I also work as a warranty technician on cruise ships. The list goes on but for the sake of time lets just say I’m a hustler. My goal is to support myself off Diamond Tooth but I never want to stop performing. I think it keeps one healthy to have each hand in a couple different pots, so to speak.
AS: Do you have any interns/employees?
BB: I would LOVE to have a personal assistant and some nimble fingered crafters on my team, but at this time I am flying solo. When I open up my storefront perhaps I’ll be ready to employ someone.
AS: Where do you see Diamond Tooth in the next few years?
BB: On the head of every stylish woman from Montauk to Bangkok.
AS: What can shoppers expect to see at your table at our upcoming bazaar?
BB: Shoppers are in for a treat; I’m sharing a space with Maria Eife and we are having a ball designing the displays. My inventory will consist of many feathered combs like the ones seen on my etsy shop, brooches, jawbone earrings, fur bangle bracelets and some higher end pieces like one of a kind hats and fascinators.