CAMBRIDGE - DAY FOUR

My second class at Harvard was full to the brim, with a few familiar faces and lots of new ones. I also had the pleasure of meeting Audrey Eyring, a medical illustrator who observed my class and took some photos for me.

During some of the finishing steps, my students got an introduction to Chuck Testa. It's always so much fun to show students my favorite YouTube video and see their reactions!

The bunny is slowly coming back to life after a lot of hard work and drying/fluffing.

The bunny is slowly coming back to life after a lot of hard work and drying/fluffing.

After everyone left and we cleaned up, I realized I had basically starved myself all day like I always do when I'm working. I met up with Alayna and Zach at State Park, a cozy spot right near the Friendly Toast (where we ate the night before). There was a really great band playing but State Park apparently doesn't update their social media so I can't find any info on them, which is a bummer. After dinner (A+), a few glasses of cava (A+), and a game of pool (Andy and Zach won), I headed to bed so I could wake up for my trip home the next morning.

CAMBRIDGE - DAY THREE

There is something absolutely magical about being in a completely empty museum, especially one filled with taxidermy dating back a century and a half. There are, of course, jokes to be made about what I do for a living. Still life. Dead silence. A dying art. I’ve heard them all and they still vaguely amuse me, but those puns just don’t compare to how spellbound I feel surrounded by these glass cases.

From behind the glass, eyes stare at me and teeth are bared. While some of the mounts have endured some suffering over the decades, others are so pristine I feel that they may jump out at me. The glare of the overhead lights is one of the only things reminding me that I’m standing in a gallery and not on a savannah somewhere as my mind starts wandering.

For most people, the smell of moth balls mixed with the smell of dry skin and old feathers sounds like an absolutely disgusting thing to endure. For me, it’s what makes me feel alive and reminds me that I possess the skills to make dead things look alive again. Creating a well-done taxidermy piece is the closest thing to actual witchcraft or necromancy that I’ll likely get in my lifetime, and I’m alright with that. Combined with the sound of the heels of my boots clicking as I walk to my classroom, I've never been so pumped up for a class before.

Teaching at the Harvard Museum of Natural History is an honor like no other. In 1998, it was established to effectively combine the collections of three natural history museums on campus - the Harvard University Herbaria, the Mineralogical and Geological Museum, and the Museum of Comparative Zoology. The MCZ is the one I am most interested in, for obvious reason, and it was founded in 1859 with some collections from the 1600s onward.

I had already set up for the classes the day prior, and had taken a suitcase full of frozen rabbits home with me to time their thawing correctly. While the museum was still quiet, I set out the rabbits and prepared my presentations for the day.

After around five hours, we had fourteen finished bunnies. Everyone learned how to skin, clean, and preserve the skins before mounting them on hand-carved and wrapped custom mannikins. I had such a blast and it went by so quickly!

After leaving for the night, I grabbed some extra supplies from the store and then headed back to Zach's place. Once he finished work, we went to the Friendly Toast. It's a pretty cool restaurant, decorated in all kinds of old things but not in the way Applebee's is cheesy. Their wallpaper has Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Tom Swift books printed all over. All of their food is great (I've visited before) but I settled on some type of awesome boozy-minty-milkshake-y thing from the specials menu and a fish burrito.

The rest of the night was spent watching Master of None before I passed out HARD. If you're a fan of Aziz Ansari, it's a must-watch.

PHOTO DUMP - BOSTON

The lovely and extremely talented Madeline Barr photographed one of my classes while I was teaching in Boston in March of 2015. Madeline is available for all kinds of things, but really loves destination weddings!

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Teaching this class was especially near and dear to me because one special kid came to learn from me - my late uncle John's godson Iain.

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Look how great the light was in this studio!

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In case anyone is interested, these classes took place at Porcelain & Stone. Kimberly Huestis, the owner, teaches and hosts a range of workshops as well as creating amazing jewelry and ceramic pieces using real silver and gold accents.