Lit­tle Pick Me Ups

Veg­e­tar­ian Becky Dick, 25, from Stroud, chose a meaty ca­reer...

Pick Me Up! Special - - Contents -

As blood trick­led onto my work­bench, I pushed the sharp scalpel into the rab­bit’s flesh and peeled its skin and fur away.

I of­ten get raised eye­brows when I tell peo­ple I’m a taxi­der­mist, but the fun­ni­est re­ac­tions I get are when I go on to tell them I’m also a veg­e­tar­ian!

‘Isn’t that a con­tra­dic­tion?’ peo­ple ask. But I don’t think it is at all. For al­most two years, I’ve shunned meat, and haven’t strug­gled to re­ject the chicken, beef, and ham op­tions on menus.

My main rea­son for go­ing veg­gie was that I just couldn’t stand the way some an­i­mals are cooped up in tiny pens and raised for slaugh­ter.

But taxi­dermy is dif­fer­ent – I only work with an­i­mals that are al­ready dead.

It’s not like I kill the an­i­mals – most of them ac­tu­ally come to me as road­kill.

As a child, my par­ents would take me to mu­se­ums,

and I’d be fas­ci­nated by the

still-life an­i­mals on dis­play. Grow­ing up, I went on to study dec­o­ra­tive arts at Not­ting­ham Trent Univer­sity.

And when I told my mum that I wanted to do a place­ment with a taxi­der­mist, she was shocked.

‘You want to do what?!’ she cried, as­ton­ished.

But I was de­ter­mined. My boyfriend Nim was more open-minded and even got me my first spec­i­men.

‘I found this on the tram line,’ he said, hand­ing me a dead squir­rel.

‘Per­fect!’ I said, plac­ing it in the freezer next to the frozen peas. I named him Steve, and, the

next morn­ing, I took him to my taxi­dermy trainer so he could show me the ropes. I soon learnt

that an­i­mals weren’t ac­tu­ally stuffed – they were skinned and then draped over a foam mould in the right shape.

It’s just like pulling off a sock!

I’d watched loads of taxi­dermy videos on­line be­fore, so I didn’t feel squea­mish at all as I set about skin­ning and mount­ing Steve.

It was a messy job, but once Steve was re­stored to his for­mer glory, I felt so proud of my­self.

I’d turned him into a work of art.

To­day, I’m a qual­i­fied taxi­der­mist.

The big­gest an­i­mal I’ve worked on is a bad­ger, but my dream is to one day preserve an ex­otic tou­can – it would be such a chal­lenge.

I may be­lieve that meat is mur­der, but restor­ing al­ready dead an­i­mals to their for­mer glory is some­thing I’m proud to be a part of.

To see Becky’s cre­ations, go to www.tax­tiles.com.

Great stuff Their for­mer glory

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