Articles, Blog

I waited 4+ years for this: the World Taxidermy Championships!

December 12, 2019


Emily: Imagine if all baseball players were allowed to play in the world series, If all golfers were invited to the masters. If every tennis player could make it to the clay courts of Wimbledon. In most human endeavors, only a tiny percentage of participants Are fortunate enough to complete directly for the highest honours. But in taxidermy, there are no barriers. There are no semifinals, There’s no club to join or dos to pay. Any person who has the desire can compete directly against The best taxidermists in the world. That’s right, we’re at the 2017 World Taxidermy and Fish Carving Championships! Even before I started working at the Field Museum in Chicago, I had wanted to visit the World Taxidermy Championships. It was started in 1983, by the taxidermy magazine, Breakthrough. Which devotes itself to, quote, ‘the serious wildlife artist’. I’m so exited to be here! I was honoured to be invited by Larry Blomquist, The magazine’s publisher, and producer and chairman of the World Taxidermy Championships. Emily: How have you seen this field, and this competition change in the last 20 years, or 25 years, or so? Larry: It’s been a tremendous change, and a lot of it has to do with new technology that’s come into the field. The other’s been education in the industry. More taxidermists have the availability of good instruction. Emily: When people think about taxidermy, they either think of bad taxidermy, ’cause they think its funny, Or they think about how taxidermy is like an old school thing, What are your thoughts about that? In terms of taxidermy being seen and appreciated as a form of contemporary art? Larry: If you look at the pieces in here, and there’s actually hundreds, That express artistic merit, composition and design, Not only the accuracy of replicating the animals, but the artistic thoughts that went into doing it. You can walk through this venue, and see taxidermy comparable to any museum you go into. If not better. Artists from all around the world bring in mounts they have been working on For the chance to place in different competitive categories, of various levels of expertise. There are eight main divisions: master, professional, novice, youth, Collective artists, which goes to work that more than one taxidermist worked on, Interpretive taxidermy, which is the division that encourages new artistic approaches to taxidermy, Pre-sculpted taxidermy, for artists submitting a completed clay sculpture, And a live taxidermy sculpture, where various artists have 22 hours to sculpt original body forms, Layering foam bodies over skeletons and modelling them with clay. And each of these divisions breaks down into further categories, Like the masters division has sixteen different categories. Categories range from small, to large mammals, game animals like pheasants, And non-game animals like raptors, A category just for largemouth bass, and another for turkeys, One for warmwater fish, and another for coldwater fish, And there are also things like recreations. This red panda is in the recreation category Which means that it’s a red panda, but it’s not a red panda. It’s a fisher that has been made to look like a red panda. That’s amazing! The professional division even has a freeze-dry category, Even though there’s no freeze-drying allowed in the masters category, Except for the use of turkey heads. There’s prize money in this competition too, Sponsors donated around $36,000 to be given out to winners of each category. But, perhaps more important than the money, is the notoriety And being able to say you placed or won in the World Taxidermy Championships is huge. Because the judging here is serious business. Wendy Christensen is one of the judges this year, She worked in Milwaukee Public Museum as a taxidermist for nearly 35 years. Emily: What is it that we’re looking at here? Wendy: This is a Chinese ferret badger. It’s an animal that obviously we do not see very often in the United States, so In today’s modern world, we can look up and, you know, research an animal as we’re working on it. Emily: So is this part of the judging process, where you’ll actually go to photo references, to learn more about the organism? Wendy: Absolutely, What we’re doing is we’re trying to weigh ourselves and compare ourselves against nature. We’re looking at technical aspects of the taxidermy, besides the anatomical accuracy of things like that. One of the other things I’m looking at right now too is Shrinkage, ear shape – they’ve rebuilt the inner ear anatomy up – there’s drumming. That the hair patterns are straight, and that the attitude captures the essence of that animal. Emily: That’s so exiting, that something like this can be in World Taxidermy Championships. Wendy: It’s so cool that we have all these wonderful foreign competitors, That’s what’s beautiful and wonderful about the World Show, Is it truly is international. Emily: I’m not going to lie to you guys, I spent most of the first day just running around the competition floor, Totally overwhelmed by all of the amazing taxidermy I was seeing. Look at this beautiful fish! That’s amazing, this is in the professional reproduction category. It’s swimming after all the other fish. What is it doing? Where is it going? Who is he? *whispers* Who is he? This is a freeze-dried fish! And they put it on a reef with lights and it’s moving! *whispers* Oh my God! This king eider collection is beautiful, this guy’s eating an octopus. And, so you only see the surface here, And then you lean down and there’s so much more going on underneath the water. You can see the division, you can see the movement of the feet changes, When they’re underwater, versus when they’re just going to land, And they this moment of impact. What I love about all of this is that they’re a moment of time, like there’s something happening. Like, there’s an activity, and that activity is captured. So well! Who says taxidermists don’t have a sense of humour! Nature. It’s two wolverines, there’re two wolverines, they’re fighting wolverines. Look at it! They’re mounted in mid air! This is just totally mind blowing! These sculptures defy physics. Look at ‘im! Look at that little rascal. Rascally raccoon! He’s breaking into the chicken coop. God, they have like, yolk on the whiskers, it’s like dripping off of the side. *whispering* Hey, we should get a shot of this. I overheard the judges were talking, I think this might be one of the winners. You didn’t hear it from me. I think what I love most about this is that it absolutely acknowledges human wildlife interaction. I’ve seen this in my life – I’ve walked in my backyard with a fire pit going. It is bubbling. There’s like bubbling grease in that pan. This is a taxidermy mount of worms. They make the worms look so real. Larry: I’ve been doing taxidermy for over 50 years. I’ve won a lot of national titles, and I get chills. And I think, “that is unbelievable.” I know how difficult it is, how much effort and time it takes. To see some of the pieces I’ve seen in this exhibition, I’m very humbled about it. I couldn’t- I didn’t- I had no idea what I was- I-I know I’ve hyped this up for myself for years, but this has completely blown all of my own expectations. I might actually start crying, I’m so overwhelmed by how awesome this is. I love, I love taxidermy. It still has brains on it.

49 Comments

  • Reply joey hext December 9, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    are these animals hunted?

  • Reply Candra Moon December 13, 2018 at 1:43 am

    I'm ridiculously jealous of you.

  • Reply standing here December 16, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    awh i love watching u fangirl out

  • Reply gaddodin boii December 23, 2018 at 9:40 am

    the courts in Wimbledon are grass heehee

  • Reply Ferrit Rat December 30, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    How is it legal to taxidermy and sell a red panda

  • Reply Rachelstorrersings January 1, 2019 at 7:19 am

    So cool!!! Loved this!

  • Reply dunhamsh January 5, 2019 at 2:55 am

    Taxidermy is HARD props to these people, taxidermy takes a lot of hard work and you can not forget any meat

  • Reply Yeetur McBeetur January 7, 2019 at 1:07 am

    What if I get an animal and train it to stay very still for prolonged periods of time?

  • Reply Sam I Am January 8, 2019 at 7:48 am

    You nerding out about it was what made this video.

  • Reply Vanessa Anthony January 9, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    It's beautiful but it makes me so sad. How many of these were hunted for trophies? They all surely did not die from natural causes.

  • Reply Fracture January 9, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    We need cloning, NOW! One Emily is nowhere near enough. Every city should get one!

  • Reply Engel EInzelgänger January 10, 2019 at 12:14 am

    Pretty sure Emily has never work a day doing the brain scoop. Any one that excited about any thing is just getting paid to enjoy their hobbies.

  • Reply jon bush January 12, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    How adorable are you!

  • Reply somehowsurviving January 12, 2019 at 11:28 pm

    Creepy dead animals, yay?

  • Reply king chris January 13, 2019 at 12:49 am

    Lmao I’ve seen taxidermy that makes me scared it’s gonna come alive

  • Reply Samuel Carpenter January 16, 2019 at 2:04 am

    I love your enthusiasm! Some people find taxidermy macabre or morbid, but done right, and really well, it captures the amazing beauty of the live animal. I can tell that you see this.

  • Reply Rodney Wroten January 18, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    Mam if you could go to Alec Steele channel he is a very young blacksmith that has moved here from the U.K. to open his new shop. you have a uncannie look as if you were twins. the smile and the additude is unreal

  • Reply Dream The Endless January 19, 2019 at 4:54 am

    I'm not going to lie I'm still confused if she's actually excited about the stuff or this is some next level sarcasm.

  • Reply ZCJKF13GDG4 January 20, 2019 at 7:50 am

    No human category? Cowards.

  • Reply Matthew Smith January 20, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    Clay ?

  • Reply marcus ramirez January 20, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    The interviewer/narrator in this video is incredible. Respect

  • Reply Michael Harris January 21, 2019 at 5:01 am

    She’s high af but tbh I would be to ?????

  • Reply Ashley Wadlow January 21, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    Wimbledon is grass, not clay.

  • Reply ocean-drive slim January 23, 2019 at 12:36 am

    Marry me

  • Reply Alex Gould January 23, 2019 at 3:15 am

    Where do I get that shirt?!?!

  • Reply Mattziboy Mc January 25, 2019 at 1:12 am

    clay courts of wimbledon ?

  • Reply Ron Cooke January 31, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    Gee I feel stuffed after Watching this thanks Emily!! IT was great to see so much Taxidermy with quality art work!! CONGRADULATIONS to the people who have been in this 1st CLASS EXHIBITION!! ??????????????????????

  • Reply robertobx63 January 31, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    grisly…

  • Reply Yara Abou Matar February 1, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    This sure does seem exciting. But i have a question. When does it become too much? Like if the species is getting endangered from hunting will it be possible to stop targeting that species? Again, I’m not commenting to shame anyone, everyone has their hobbies. I’m just curious about the regulations.

  • Reply Hayden Dickey February 1, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    Wimbledon is grass, not clay.

  • Reply E. Asinus February 2, 2019 at 12:51 am

    Damn, you are phyhnnnnne girl. Let me take you out, im in chi town

  • Reply Brant Barker February 2, 2019 at 4:14 am

    My my my what a lovely room of death ? take care now bye bye then.

  • Reply Gian Sotolongo February 2, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Increadible

  • Reply Zakiry February 2, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    Really like the wolves

  • Reply Медведь Медведь February 2, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Her excitement and enthusiasm is adorable! ?

  • Reply Tomaszek February 2, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    That girl ruined great material by acting like a goof. Such a shame.

  • Reply Matt Jessee February 3, 2019 at 5:10 am

    Emily is so dang adorable when she's in fan girl mode!

  • Reply Βασιλης Μινος February 3, 2019 at 11:07 am

    βλαμμένη γυαλαμπουκα ούτε για πατσά δεν κάνεις

  • Reply Gary E. Ko February 4, 2019 at 12:22 am

    Ur just so cute and adorable to me…..ur personslity rocks.

  • Reply Quetzalcoatl February 6, 2019 at 7:42 am

    What is the first thing that comes to mind when you first glance at this girl? N word?

  • Reply Slappy February 8, 2019 at 11:23 am

    I'm a hunter, but I've always thought taxidermy was fucked up. People are sick in the head.

  • Reply citrus hall March 30, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    this is cool!

  • Reply Robin Duong Music April 6, 2019 at 5:24 am

    That red panda looks amazing. I Googled it and it uses the skins of a fisher, foxes, and a coyote.

  • Reply poptartkif April 24, 2019 at 1:14 am

    im also extremely passionate about taxidermy. i think it is a super unique and amazing art, but i rarely ever get to see it. i love touching taxidermy too. birds are my favorite

  • Reply Angela Hepp May 1, 2019 at 9:32 am

    Emily is so cute

  • Reply Birgit Bettina May 13, 2019 at 10:28 am

    I have looked at the list of participants and they are almost all Americans. Is that because it is difficult to ship the animals across the border because of customs?

  • Reply caroline burrito July 13, 2019 at 3:43 am

    so i have a fear of taxidermy really just large animals and heads but i have a sort of understanding of it but not really but could someone please explain this to me? how can you taxidermy an endangered animal because some of the pieces were endangered species but it says that quote 'its a red panda, but its not a red panda its a fisher made to look like a red panda" and im just like how tf do you do that wouldnt you need the pelt of a red pana to do that but its illegeal???

  • Reply Sonny August 19, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    I am a Taxidermist and it's kinda neat to see the mounts on here from people that I know lol.

  • Reply 23 Famez October 12, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    First of all Wimbledon is clay courts there grass courts cmonn!!!!!

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