CLASS QUESTIONS

Are you going to teach in my hometown? How can I be updated on your class calendar?
Maybe! Check out my class calendar. If you don't see your nearest major city listed, volunteer to host a class or just sign up for my mailing list at the bottom of this page.

How much are your classes?
That depends on which class you’d like to sign up for. Pricing depends on a plethora of factors like venue, geographical location, techniques being taught, and what specimens are being used.

I can’t afford a class. Do you have any other solutions?
I wrote and released an e-book. It’s $20 and covers the whole process of creating a bust mount from start to finish!

GENERAL QUESTIONS

When did you start doing taxidermy? How did you start? 
I have been interested in taxidermy for a long time (since I was a child) and have been a licensed taxidermist since 2012. If you want more information about me personally, you can read my bio. If you still have questions, feel free to contact me!

Who trained you?
I started in the industry as a self-taught taxidermist, then graduated to watching taxidermy videos from different supply warehouses and reading lots of literature on the subject over the past few centuries. More recently, I have linked up with master taxidermist Chuck Testa, who I see as a peer rather than a mentor, but we trade a lot of knowledge each time we work together and have a few collaborative projects and classes planned over the next few years. Aside from being a recognizable internet meme, Chuck is also an extremely skilled craftsman and I respect his work a great deal. In addition to working with Chuck, I've learned a lot while working at various museums as a volunteer - the methods of every taxidermist are different, so getting new perspectives helps me continue to evolve and grow stronger in my field.

Where do you get the animals?
Veterinarians, hunters, pet stores, responsible breeders, and pest control specialists. ALL of my specimens are legally obtained and sustainably sourced. I prefer to use animals that died of natural causes, abatement, depredation, and peaceful euthanization. I do not violate ANY regional, state, or federal laws in regards to animals and usage of their parts. I do not support anyone who does violate those laws, because they are in place to protect the animals. 

What are your clients like?
I’ve worked with a five-year-old and I’ve worked with a seventy-year-old. My students are (overall) curious, intelligent, and compassionate people who are interested in science but want to learn taxidermy in a fashion that does not disrupt the natural world in a detrimental way.

Would you ever taxidermy your pets?
No! Please stop asking taxidermists this! It's rude.

What is the biggest thing you’ve taxidermied?
A male red kangaroo, weighing in around 130 lbs., is the largest lifesize animal I have worked on. A bull elk shoulder mount is the largest animal overall, but we only worked with the head and shoulders in the shop. It was provided already field dressed, which means it was roughly skinned in the field so the meat could be butchered and.

What is the smallest thing you’ve taxidermied?
A button quail chick, which was a day old and the internal form for which required only half a cotton ball wrapped in string to create.

What is the strangest request you’ve gotten?
I think the weirdest and worst request was a guy who wanted his pet hamster to be mounted in a very strange pose, and gave me a photo of a cartoon as a reference. It turned out terribly, unsurprisingly, but it kind of set the bar for how our friends thought my work would turn out all the time. It was a bummer!

Can you taxidermy a human?
Technically, yes. You could remove a person’s skin and stretch it over a form. However, animals have great stuff going on for them, like fur and feathers - things that cover up stitching and stretching. Aesthetically and legally speaking, to taxidermy a human would not turn out well. Leave Grandma’s body to your friendly neighborhood mortician.

Why do you base your skill on how fast you can complete projects?
I wouldn’t say I base my skill on speed, but it’s fun to look back and see that something that used to take me four hours (like skinning a stillborn goat) now only takes around forty-five minutes. I like keeping track of weird things and my speed for skinning is one of them. As for mounting, that’s a whole different animal (no pun intended) because I’m a perfectionist and will continue to fuss over something forever. I don’t time how long it takes to create a mount since I never feel that it’s truly finished, and it can take months or years depending on how much I travel in between studio sessions.

Is it “taxidermied” or “taxidermized”?
I say “taxidermied” but that’s just my preference. Using the phrase “mounted” is usually a good way around this debate!

How do older, male taxidermists feel about your work?
I try to be respectful of people who have been doing my job for longer than I’ve been alive. I am continually learning and so grateful to those who have taken me under their wings. We’re all in this together, and trying to keep a dying art alive. The ones who make comments about me being a woman typically don't have a problem with me personally, they just have issues with the idea of feminism (equality) in general which means I could literally not possibly care any less about their opinions on anything, especially my skill in eviscerating specimens.

Did that rhino just order a drink?
Nope, it’s just Chuck Testa!

Mickey Alice Kwapis is a Chicago-based taxidermist and craftswoman.
All site content ©2011-2017 Mickey Alice Kwapis and Niche Lab LLC.
Logo design by Kira Crugnale. Portraits by Alicia Brianne.

Questions? Use the contact form.