Beth Beverly of Diamond Tooth Taxidermy is a state and federally licensed taxidermist who graduated from the Pocono Institute of Taxidermy in 2010. She has a deep respect for this craft and those who strive to preserve it.
Beth Beverly joined Little Moon + Arrow in an extraordinary Winter Solstice pop-up event this past December. Beth meticulously handcrafts moccasins, vests, and sheepskins that are still available in our shop located at 729 s 4th Street Philadelphia, PA.
We asked Beth some questions about her art practice, living in Philadelphia and motherhood. Learn more about Beth and what inspires her work below.
(image taken from Philly.com Geneva Heffernan/Staff)
What does a typical day look like for you?
Lately, my son wakes up at 5:30 and I try to get him to sleep for just a liiiiiiittle longer. Then it varies depending on the day. I do part-time work as a scenic painter at a set design shop in Sharon Hill a couple of days a week, so he's in daycare then. Other days we go to music class (like the one April leads at Little Moon!) or the playground near our house, and when we go home, I'll wear him so he can "help" me with chores around the house. Some weeks I'll treat myself to an extra day of daycare so I can have an entire uninterrupted 9 hours of studio work- and I'll tell you this: when you are paying money for your own hours, time management skills you never knew you had will emerge out of the blue.
When did you start your practice/ craft?
I've been inspired by natural fibers and found objects for as long as I can remember, so it only seemed natural to want to do something with the dead birds I would see on the sidewalk while working as a window dresser downtown in 2000. I bought a book on how to do taxidermy and made terrible art for a decade before finally deciding to pursue formal training and make this my career.
Tell us more about your inspirations and who inspires you?
I'm inspired by pretty things. In the days of art school critiques and the posturing which goes along with that, I was paralyzed by a fear that this meant my work (and subsequently I) was shallow & frivolous, but I've come to realize that pretty things also are bursting with meaning and emotion. I love sparkles and color and movement. Lately, I've been truly wowed by the photo documentation of the exquisite and out-of-this-world costumes by Daniel Lismore. He just came out with a book, Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken, which I intend to buy ASAP.
How do you balance motherhood and your art?
I don't. I'm still in the first year of motherhood so I've accepted the fact that much of my work must play second fiddle to this new love in my life. I squeeze in the things that I can during naps and after bedtime...and as often as I can, I look around at the house full of unfinished projects, and my heart full of unrealized ideas, and tell them all that I'm sorry, and to please be patient because I will come back to them if they wait.
I just hope they wait.
How/do your children inspire you?
Every time my 11 month old wakes up from a nap or night's sleep, I carry him to the window in his room where he pulls the curtain open and gasps at the view. The look on his face as he gazes out upon what appears to be a simple south Philly back alley teeming with feral cats and garbage is truly remarkable. I am moved by his wonder at the world, and I try to channel that wide-eyed amazement into every facet of my day.
What is your favorite artist/artwork?
Too many to choose! I've been coveting a few pieces by Daniela Villegas, an LA-based jeweler. Her pieces are large, colorful and fun costume style treasures inspired by nature from around the world. The one item in particular that I dream of owning is a necklace with a fully functional donkey pinata pendant!
What are your favorite parts of being a maker in Philadelphia?
Philadelphia is a great networking city, and the connections I've made here are for life. I've never lived anywhere else so I can't really compare but I know it's still very affordable and accessible to an artist with artist's wages, and the trash picking can't be beaten.
What other moms inspire you?
My friend Carolyn is a mother to four truly delightful little people. We were very close as teenagers and recently reconnected when my son was just a few months old. I look forward to visiting her not only to have tea and gossip about the old neighborhood but to observe her parenting. She seems to have a bottomless well of patience and her children are so engaging and thoughtful. I try to absorb her playful energy like new mom sponge that I am.
What excites you about motherhood?
I think that my son brings out the best in me and that I've risen to the challenge of parenthood quite beautifully if I may say so. I'm excited to see what else I'm capable of now that I've uncovered qualities I never knew I had.