Good Reading : June 2010
Honey Brown on The Good Daughter Inside Bret Easton Ellis's head Steam Punk climb aboard The Fairytale Road GRIMM STORIES Wit beyond the grave Dorothy Parker ORDER YOUR COPY NOW! NEXT ISSUE on sale 30 June from dead animals have been minimal. 'They haven't had their opportunity to get back at me.You might be working, and lift your head and thump it on something, that's about the extent of it.' While animals that were once stuffed with straw now have their skins draped over a foam frame, other innovations have made their way into the taxidermy business. The same material used inside the toe pieces of shoes is used for the inserts of animal ears. Automotive paints and putties, and dental plasters, are now in the taxidermy studio. Kevlar thread, developed for the space industry, has been used for more than 20 years to sew up animals. 'It's nice and strong -- and then for about the same length of time, superglue instead of thread for very fine, delicate work.We heard the medical industry started using that much later to close up incisions.' Hair dye is also used at times. 'We were repairing a tiger skin and the new pieces were a lot brighter than the old ones so we had to tone them back.You go into the hairdressing supplies shop and ask for colours or bleaches and when they ask what you want them for, and you say "I'm working on a tiger", they sort of look at you a bit strange.' Gary Pegg is happy to work on virtually any animal. The ones he likes working on least are family pets. 'It's such an emotional area. Sometimes the people may be acting on a reflex sort of thing than a real conscious decision. I try to talk them out of it, especially if there are kids involved -- the best thing to do is for them to get a new one. I suppose because I see life and death, life and death, I deal with it.' And no one's pet, he says, is ordinary. 'It's never a standard dog, its tail bends a bit differently or its mouth used to drop in one corner, or its ear is a bit higher on one side -- it's all those things you have to deal with.You have to get onto those little quirks to show the quirky individual it was.' And when the owner comes to pick it up, 'they come with its special basket and the cushion it sleeps with, the toy it would play with. You think maybe they need to let go, but that's human behaviour.' When his own dog, a shih-tzu, died 'I must admit we got it cremated.That was eight years ago.We had a young child at the time,hehadtobeputdown -- the dog, that is. I put him in an urn and remember him that way.We've got him in a cupboard with his ball, and that's Spencer.We moved straight on and got another pet, a little female maltese cross, and on you go with life.' On a shelf in the back room at South Pacific Taxider my, sur rounded by native wildlife and birds, is a lively looking fox ter rier, pastel collar on, looking as if he's ready for a walk. 'I tried to talk the owners out of having him done, but they insisted.' But they were some of the ones who moved on -- they never came back for him, never paid for him. 'He's been in a commercial with a Paris Hilton look-alike, has been hired out for a few things. He's paid his way, he's part of the fur niture. I'm quite attached to him.' Shoes for the Moscow Circus by Leta Keens is published by Pier 9, rrp $59.95.