Hamster Taxidermy Workshop – Last Tuesday Society, Hackney City Farm

*WARNING!* For those who are squirmish and find the idea of taxidermy morbid and disgusting, you better look away now….

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I’m a late adopter of Twitter but since I’ve joined, I found that Twitter opened up a whole new world of activities which I might be interested in. While looking through the tweets from those I’m following, saw a retweet to the Last Tuesday Society about an upcoming taxidermy workshop. I have always been an animal lover and also pretty crafty so I thought why not?

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I promptly signed up for the hamster taxidermy class which though is organised by the Last Tuesday Society, was held at Hackney City Farm instead. I had a hard time looking for the room hosting the workshop and had to ask 4 different staffs at the farm before I found the room. A tip, the room is next to the garden area of the cafe.

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A picture of the potential victim candidates for the day. I had a choice of attending a mouse or a hamster taxidermy class and I had difficulty deciding which. Mouse has a long tail which will help when posing anthropomorphically but hamster comes in an array of colours as you can see from the picture. Colours trump tail this time.

Candidate spreadeagled and ready for action.

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First incision.

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For those of you who thinks taxidermy involves blood and gore, you got it wrong! The idea is to remove and preserve the portion of the animal that defines it’s appearance. Next you recreate the structure of the animal with stuffing and some wires before draping the preserved skin over the created form.

So for a hamster, you try to pry the skin away from the body, keeping the paws, tail, ears and a small portion of the jaw. I’m lucky as I managed to complete this task leaving the body intact. A few of the others in the workshop perforated the thin skin of the hamster’s stomach wall and there were some gut spilling moments which was not exactly pleasant.

After skinning the hamster, you give it a wash, pin it up to get a blow dry.

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Hamster rug anyone?

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Finished product.

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The class was from 13:00 to 17:00 on a Sunday. I have to say time flew and before long, we were ushered out of the room as the farm closes at 17:00 and some of us had to finish our creation back home.

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My first reaction after the class was though I had fun, I don’t think I will attempt it again. I think the long session tired me out and the smell was pretty unpleasant. It’s not the smell of putrification, just the usual rodent smell.

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But after putting in the eyeballs, sewing the mouth shut to give it a cheeky grin and posing it into a standing position, I had a change of heart. I just might attend another workshop but  working on a different animal next time. I think there are a couple of guinea pig ones coming up…

The Last Tuesday Society
11 Mare Street
London E8 8RP

Hackney City Farm
1A Goldsmith’s Row
London E2 8QA

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