Monday, December 9, 2013

Traditions in Taxidermy

Carriage House | Manchester by the Sea

Growing up with traditional taxidermy displayed on the walls of my home did not prepare me for the current fascination with faux taxidermy, aka fauxidermy. In thinking about my own design style, and the movement towards bringing nature inside, it never occurred to me that collecting natural elements for florals and interiors is akin to this newer definition of taxidermy.

Martha Stewart

I will also share that, along with the abundance of heads hanging around our home, there was also an abundance of fresh game in the freezer. Oh joy! Mom's numerous attempts to substitute venison for beef in her spaghetti and meatball recipe never proved to be too successful, as her "unsuspecting children" could always tell the difference. Really Mom?


I can still remember giving tours of my grandfather's taxidermy collection to all my friends, for the purpose of freaking them out. My Grampy had a montage of heads displayed in his man-cave, ranging from a bobcat to a bear. If you were wondering where the rest of the bear went, well, the clawed foot made a nice ash tray for his office desk. I don't believe that my Grampy ever smoked, because he was actually a bit of a health nut. He read many articles on health and wellness, and I can specifically recall one article that he read about 30 years ago alerting people to the high mercury levels found in tuna. He never ate it again. His morning routine included a self-made concoction of wheat germ and Nuform milk, along with a tablespoon of cod liver oil, for good measure. While I would watch this whole process in action, noticing the movement of particles floating in his drink, the enjoyment for him was in my wide-eyed and curious expression. He could also tell the BEST stories, even though he had the tendency to tell them over and over again, but it didn't matter. I never tired of hearing about his adventures in the woods, as his love of nature and his appreciation for wildlife were evident in his sincere enthusiasm.

Erin Gates

Z Gallerie

West Elm

As I begin to appreciate and recognize the influence of taxidermy for the beautification of interior spaces, I begin to see the connection. It seems like every time I open a magazine, click around on Pinterest, shop online or in stores, I see evidence of this craze, from felted animal head trophies at Snug Harbor Farm in Kennebunkport, to a wall of papier mache heads at West Elm, to resin skull caps and antlers at White Faux Taxidermy to metallics at Z Gallerie. It's incredible!


And for the horse-lover in your family!

As this trend follows its course, I will take the time to enjoy the fact that for me, it all started with my Grampy.

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