Mickey Alice Kwapis

taxidermy & craft

Washington, DC Cabinet of Curiosities Workshop at Gold Leaf Studios - Make a Deposit ($150 total)

washington coc.jpg
washington coc.jpg

Washington, DC Cabinet of Curiosities Workshop at Gold Leaf Studios - Make a Deposit ($150 total)


Start your own natural history collection the DIY way at Gold Leaf Studios, located at the rear of 1523 22nd St NW in Washington, DC!

Sign up for a specimen preservation class with absolutely no experience necessary — learn about entomology (insects), osteology (bones), botany (plants), and a little bit of taxidermy by preserving your own specimens. Reserve your spot for $50 USD and pay the remainder on the day of your class. These classes are limited to ten students each.

What will students learn?

  • Entomology: Learn how to rehydrate and preserve your own moth, beetle, or butterfly specimen and take it home with you. Students will receive guidance through the process as well as information on how to procure specimens online and in the wild in the future.
  • Wet specimen embalming: Learn how to carefully embalm, pose, and preserve a jarred bird or mammal specimen. All specimens are legal to possess and were sustainably sourced, meaning their deaths were not detrimental to the environment. Specimens for embalming practice may be unsuitable for taxidermy mounting (they may be missing a few toes) but rather than throwing them out, I have chosen to repurpose my imperfect specimens for educational purposes.
  • Botany: Learn how to preserve plants, flowers, leaves, and other botanical specimens by pressing them in your own handmade wooden plant press, which is portable and will fit in a bag or a larger purse for use on nature walks.
  • Osteology: Learn how to dissect an owl pellet, separating small animal bones from other components of the pellet. Identify bones when possible, then learn how to clean them for drying and display. Bone-cleaning methods will carry over to skeletons of any size.

What do students leave with? 
Each student will leave with a finished pinned insect ready for drying, an embalmed bird or mammal specimen, a handmade plant press full of specimens ready to dry, and a vial of small animal bones found in their owl pellet. Students get to keep all tools and equipment - you will receive a spreading board and insect pins, embalming tools and spare chemicals for future wet specimen projects, a reusable vial, petri dish, teasing tool, and chemicals for dissecting owl pellets and/or cleaning bones, and a handmade wooden plant press that can be reused indefinitely, in addition to lots of knowledge and of course, your own finished specimens.

When and where is this happening?
There are three sessions to choose from, which are also listed in the drop-down menu below: 7 pm on Friday, September 8th and 12 pm on both Saturday and Sunday, September 9th and 10th. Walk-ins are not accepted and a reservation (that's the page you're on) is required in order to attend. The address is 1523 22nd St NW, Washington, DC, 20037. Please arrive on time and allow extra time for parking if needed.

What is the cost?
Reserve your spot with a $50 deposit. The remaining $100 is due at the time of your class.

This is a one-session class spanning approximately two hours. It may be shorter depending on how fast you work.

All ages are welcome to participate in these classes. Students under twelve must be accompanied by a calm adult that can assist where needed. Students with special needs are also welcome - just let me know beforehand if you are signing a minor up for the class and/or if special accommodations are required.

To sign up and reserve your spot, please follow these instructions:

  • Click the button below the listing to add ticket(s) to your cart one at a time.
  • Fill out the form that pops up for each person you are buying a ticket for. You will need to provide a name, email address, and phone number as well as a choice between a mammal or a bird for the wet specimen. Each student needs to have a separate form filled out. If you are giving the class as a gift, please provide the student’s information rather that your own.
  • When you are finished adding the desired tickets to your cart, proceed to checkout and pay your deposit of $50 per ticket. Your registration is not complete and your spot is not reserved until you have submitted payment and received a confirmation/receipt via email.
  • The remaining $100 per student will be due in cash at the time of the class. A reminder about this will be provided in an email sent to students the week of their class.

The nitty-gritty: Deposits are nonrefundable unless the class gets cancelled. If you make a deposit but find you can no longer attend the class, you may forfeit your deposit or transfer it to another person if you desire. Please notify me of any transfers or ask any questions you may have by emailing hello@mickeyalicekwapis.com.

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Mickey Alice Kwapis is a Chicago-based taxidermist, jeweler, and person who does a lot of stuff. All site content ©2011-2017 Mickey Alice Kwapis and Niche Lab LLC. Questions? Use the contact form.