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A Minehead taxidermist's tale
FOR Liz Davis, death is all in a day’s work.
While most people like to leave their work behind when they get home, award-winning Liz spends her leisure time creating miniature masterpieces.
Liz, 47, has been making mice and rat taxidermy for the past year after taking a course in taxidermy.
She said: “I really fancied having a go at it as I’ve always collected it so I went on a course a few years ago and learnt how to do birds.”
After losing her job at a funeral company just over a year ago, Liz needed something that she would enjoy and earn her some money.
Liz added: “It’s more than just a hobby for me – for a while it was my main source of income.
“I didn’t want to go back to hairdressing and there weren’t many exciting job opportunities in Minehead so I decided to go ahead with my taxidermy."
Liz’s quirky pieces of work have even seen her appear on TV shows.
Later this month Liz will appear as a guest on the Alan Titchmarsh show and she has already been on Russell Howard’s Good News.
“Russell hates mice so he was a bit freaked out with my work but Alan seemed to really like it.
“He went through all of the pieces I took along to show him and everyone on the show seemed really interested.
“Afterwards I even had audience members and the camera crew coming over to me and asking me questions about my work,” she said.
Liz says she has made over 150 pieces of work, all unique and sometimes to a buyer’s specifications.
From a Pope to a Hannibal Lecter, Liz loves to dress her mice up as famous and sometimes scary characters.
Liz said: “You never know what you’re going to create and I get requests from people of what to make.
“Some of my favourites were Freddie Krueger and Jack the Ripper. My house creations are also quite popular because of the detail too.”
But how do you create a stuffed mouse?
Liz said the process takes weeks, especially as she makes her pieces alongside her job as an embalmer.
The mice have to be skinned and treated with preservatives before a false body is made using wood wool and hemp hair to make the creature smooth.
Liz even makes her own heads and skulls as she thinks the real head looks “too pinched.”
She added: “It can be really difficult as their fur is so thin so when I stitch them up at the back, no matter how much you try to hide it you can always see the line.
“I don’t like to see anything so that’s why I make them into characters and dress them up.”
Liz creates all the costumes and props herself, despite not being a ‘seamstress’.
Because the bodies of the animals are so small, Liz has to build up the outfits on the mice.
Once they are all dressed up, they are ready to sell.
While she hasn’t had any famous customers yet, Liz has sent several of her pieces to buyers in America although she’s always wary of them being damaged.
She is planning on sending her Admiral Nelson mouse to Derren Brown however.
So what’s next for Liz’s taxidermy?
“I would like to go on a course and learn how to do foxes or badgers because I think once you know how to do those you can do pretty much anything.
“I wouldn’t dress the foxes up however – I think they’d look cute curled up as if they were sleeping. I already have a freezer full of birds and animals at my mum’s house”
If you would like to see some of Liz’s work, take a look at her Facebook page: ‘Get Stuffed’.
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