All you dead critter fans have GOT to check out The Bone Lair! The seller has “a Ph.D. in vertebrate functional morphology” and does some stunning cleaning and articulating of really unusual (but, as far as I can tell, completely legal) animal skeletons! And for their quality the prices are quite reasonable.
William T. Hornaday: Taxidermy and Zoological Collecting
Here’s another spoiler for our 1st floor exhibit case: Dave brought this beautiful book from his home to go in our display among our information about William T. Hornaday. This book, Taxidermy and Zoological Collecting, was published in 1891 during his term as Chief Taxidermist for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
From an artistic, historical, and biological standpoint, this book is absolutely fascinating to look through! In so many aspects was Hornaday ahead of his time in regards towards animal preparation and taxidermy, and this book discusses some techniques which we still employ in our museum today. In many aspects of his personal life, however, Hornaday was a controversial and stubborn figure, but nevertheless passionate about wildlife and working ultimately towards its conservation. Someday I’ll tell you all about the time he put a pygmy person from the Congo named Ota Benga on display in the National Zoo in the primates exhibit as a way to illustrate convergent evolution, but that is totally another story.
Okay, I don’t need a vintage copy of this, but I do need a copy of it. New paperback of this public domain book at Amazon for eleven bucks.
Just a sneak peek of one of my current projects! I picked up this antique spear head from an antique shop a while back; the booth I got it from was leased by an archaeology student who deals in antiquities to make a bit of extra money. He didn’t know the exact tribe, but his best educated guess on its origin was somewhere in Africa, dated most likely to the latter half of the 19th century. I asked a few friends who have studied antique weaponry more than I have, and their best guesses were either Maasai or Zulu origins.
I also consulted a museum curator, who suggested that since the rust doesn’t look like it’s actively corroding the metal, that I shouldn’t try to clean it.
So what am I going to do with it? Exactly what I thought when I first saw it—make a really fucking awesome ritual knife with it. I’ve been plotting this for months, and I’ve been designing this thing in my mind detail by detail. Sure, I could leave it just as a pretty old antiquity sitting on a shelf to gather dust, even though it’s far from museum quality.
But there is a grand tradition throughout cultures worldwide of repurposing weaponry, including broken weapons. I’m most familiar with medieval European weaponry—a broken longsword, for example, could be reforged into a short sword or large dagger. Surely others have done the same in other places and other times.
So I am choosing to follow in this tradition. This won’t be a blade for war, though; it’s too old. Rather, it will be something of magic and ritual, memories of the blood it once shed, but also a rebirth in peace.
This week, it’s going to become a reality. Expect pictures in a few days.
Note: You may use these photos as stock, with the condition that you give me credit for the photos themselves—and show me what you made :)