Many people may think taxidermy peaked with stuffed-bird hats worn by some women in 19th-century Victorian women.
But the craft is very much alive in 21st-century Philly.
“It’s experiencing a renaissance,” said couture taxidermist Beth Beverly, 36, who sells taxidermic animals through her company,Diamond Tooth Taxidermy.
On Saturday night, Beverly’s hosting the second annual Philadelphia Alt Taxidermy competition at the Keystone Mini-golf and Arcade in Kensington. The inaugural competition drew about 200 guests.
“Vintage and found taxidermy is definitely on the rise,” said Evi Numen, artist and exhibitions manager at the Mutter Museum, who will be one of the competition’s judges.
Numen said she will be evaluating contestants based on their taxidermic animals’ aesthetics, creatvitiy, and “strangeness.”
“It’s not so much your run of the mill deer-hunter taxidermy,” she said. “A good percentage of the animals used for alt taxidermy died of natural causes, or … the entirety of the animal is used, so that nothing is going to waste.”
The craft of alternative taxidermy, as Beverly calls it, is still the same classic practice it always has been. But old-fashioned taxidermists probably never worked with deceased cats they found on the road.
“It kind of reminds me dumpster-diving — you just want to find a treasure and make it yours,” Beverly said.
Beverly, a licensed taxidermist, has been practicing taxidermy for 15 years.
She makes clothing and accessories with and out of dead animals, and also does commissions — including beloved pets.
“I still cry when I work on people’s pets. You can almost feel all the emotions projected on those animals,” Beverly said. “I like to think I can feel the spirits of the animals.”
Her goal is typically to make the dead animal as much like its living self as possible, without any adornments.
“Nature’s pretty much done the work for me,” she said.
The competition will be held Saturday Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. The event is sponsored by Hendrick’s Gin, McKenzie Taxidermy Supply, Little Baby’s Ice Cream, Rabbit Rabbit Crew, Guerrilla BBQ Ultima and the Creeper Gallery.