Sunday, 29 December 2013
Ronda the Mouse.
About a month ago a friend and I went to a taxidermy class in Blackburn to learn how to taxidermy a mouse.
To start, our teacher (Nicola Jayne Hebson) did a demonstration of how to stuff a mouse and then we each chose a mouse of our choosing and then got stuck in. Nicola was to hand if any of us got stuck or confused...which is pretty easy to do when it's your first go...especially with such a dainty creature.
First off we had to massage the mouse's limbs and then lie it on it's tummy. You find the shoulder blades and then cut between them all the way down to about a cm above the tail. We then proceeded by peeling the skin away using our hands and a scalpel to cut the fine strands away. It wasn't as gruesome as I imagined and it didn't smell too bad either. Once the ankles had been snipped and the whole insides had been removed we covered our skin in table salt. Whilst the skin was tanning we made our fake insides for the mouse, which is made from woodwool and wrapping thread around it and some clay for the shape of the mouse head. Once the insides had been made (and we had a cup of coffee and a hobnob) we proceeded by rubbing the remaining fat off the insides of the mouse using the salt, then washing and drying the skin. Then came the really exciting part! Placing the skin on the fake insides! It was so nice to see it take shape and become a little character. I intended on making my mouse a smily character but once the skin was on I decided to make him (I mean she) a shy and worried chap. We added some wires for the arms and legs and a bit of cotton wool before stitiching him up and then we added the eyes which are just pins. We had to use pins to hold our mice in place while they dried.
It was a really nice day, which may sound strange considering I spent it skinning a mouse. But it was all ethical and all the other students were lovely and our teacher was very patient and funny which put us all at ease. I'm hoping to taxidermy more things in the future though i'll probably stick with mice for a bit so I can perfect my skills.