Taxidermy

Hey pals!

This lovely girl, Cecile, gave me so much information about local and UK taxidermy before she goes to France to become part of the scene there because I’m kind of interested in it and possibly buying some pieces (mainly bones for me) and want to buy from decent places and I know there are likely tonnes of blogs full of this content, but my blog tends to be what I’m interested in as and when I am interested in it! So, this week it’s taxidermy! Hope you enjoy!

 

For those local to Brighton, there’s a great place next to the post office on North Road called DIGS and this is where Cecile was learning how to do taxidermy. Run by a woman called Victoria and her products are very high quality so high price.

Around the corner in the North Laines, there is a Bazaar where Cecile got most of her stuff. The Snoopers Attic can be good, she said, but the flea market can be more hit or miss in Kemptown. Sometimes they price items like new ones but the ears are worn out or teeth broken, so keep an eye at any market.

Online UK shops can be quite easily found via instagram and tend to sell through Etsy.

The Maiden Mother & Crone Interiors is the most known in the UK and have some very interesting pieces turning taxidermy in to art pieces. This is her personal account with pieces on too.

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Made From The Dead taxidermy by Tonja Grung is another popular one. Her instagram says wet specamines but I saw a lot of lizards, birds and butterflies.

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You can browse these two shops’ followings for more creators and stores, the taxidermy world is quite small apparently. You can follow hashtags like #taxidermy #oddities #vultureculture and #diaphonisation (which is a new and very interesting technique) and it you’re into formol and jars there is #wetspecimen

 

If you end up shopping abroad, you’ll end up paying a fortune on shipping, permits and notifications of transport. There are different rules in different countries about what Taxidermy is allowed.

 

For more Skulls and Bones type content:

Headsnbones has a lot of great stuff.

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Osteal Jewellery have a lot of bone taxidermy but also jewellery which is pretty cool.

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And finally, the Mandible Menagerie.

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There’s also a Facebook group called ‘Skull Collecting’ that people can join for more of a community learning and making friends.

 

Cecile gave me all this information, so now I know where to go locally and within the UK generally too for everything I need and want! She is now moving (if not already moved) to France and is determined to be a taxidermy ambassador as there is only 70 people licensed to do taxidermy all over the country and she hopes to help get the numbers up.

Go give her a follow on instagram!

The most important thing for me was ethical businesses and she says most of the people listed use ethically sourced materials (because they have to, to run a business) and for more exotic specimens you have to have the certificate of origin!

 

This might seem a bit odd that I, a vegetarian, is interested in taxidermy, but I like the idea that the bodies of animals become a new form of art and have a new lease of life being decoration or jewellery after their life has departed. Taxidermy is not meant to be from hunted animals, and I am entirely against hunting.

 

I hope this was fun and a bit different for all!

 

~ Artie

Collective Second Hand Book Haul

Hey pals,

Leading up to Christmas, I was finding quite a few decent books in charity shops and at the doctors/hospital book donation shelves and I thought I would share what I found and if they’re gifts for people or not (I’m not spoiling anything because these where all Christmas presents so they’ve all had them!!) I would read all of these books so I’m telling everyone to give it back when they’re done so I can read it too!

 

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Gift to my mum. The title was an inside joke but also had a funny sounding plot. Paid 20-30p donation.

 

Another gift, couldn’t decide who to. I talked about this book in another post.

 

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I picked this up at one of the hospital book donation shelves. I plan on reading The Great Gatsby this year and have heard a lot about the Beautiful and Damned, and I can’t stop myself with a two for one deal! Think I paid 20-30p donation. 

I’ve read some Zadie Smith before and just thought I’d pick it up and see if I enjoyed it. I’ve not read a whole novel of hers, just bits and pieces. Part of a 3 for £1 deal.

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We all love Killing Eve in my house, this book looks pretty small so I expect it to be a fast read and I think I’ll give it to my mum when I’m done coz she really liked the show too. Part of a three for £1 deal in a charity shop.

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The potion Diaries just seemed like an easy to read YA fantasy involving magic. A bit more on the hetero/girly side for me, but I decided to give it a chance. £2 in a charity shop.

 

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We are big Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French fans, so the first is for my mum and second for my gran and then I’ll be stealing them back. I am always deeply fascinated by the lives of famous people and how they got to where they are. This was in our book self at the doctor’s surgery and I’m pretty sure I used pocket change to pay for these so can’t remember exactly how much. 

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Just as a side note: for the few books I’ve picked up at donation shelves and paid relatively low for, my family often donate books to these shelves, we often have brought bags of books as we like to help support our NHS staff and services. The books we pick up will likely be returned once we have read them, plus more. I encourage others to do this rather than donate to charity shops as they can be picked up for any amount of donation which makes reading more accessible. Plus, I am sure patients stuck in there for long periods can use these, hospital stays can be really dull and a choice in books to read can help patients feel more positive.

 

I’ll let you know what I (and my family members) think of these books when we get round to reading them!

 

~ Artie

2019 Reading Wrap Up

 

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Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi

This one is a big trigger warning to those with eating disorders. There’s talk of numbers and self harm behaviours.

This book really made my younger self feel seen. I grew up wanting to be an actor, bi and with an eating disorder that I didn’t get help for. It was really interesting to read about a woman I only vaguely knew about and connect with her on a deep level I often can’t. She talks a lot about the inner workings of Hollywood, which is always so morbidly interesting to me, and about her interpersonal relationships failing within this awful period in her life and then how they began to thrive as she chose recovery. This had a wonderful happy ending (which, most of us know) and could be a good read for someone struggling to see through the fog of mental illness.

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Queer Intentions:  a (personal) journey through LGBT+ culture by Amelia Abraham

This is a great book for an introduction to Queer history and culture around the world! I am a white British queer who does not know much of what it is like to be queer around the world, and we can’t understand what it’s like being a different gender or sexuality. This book bridges the gaps in the white western viewpoint. It’s also much easier to read than you’d think, more like a selection of essays you could read in a queer magazine. I’m trying to say, this is an accessible book for people of all knowledge and education levels and may spark a love and need to know more.

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Heartstopper vol. 1 & 2 by Alice Oseman

The perfect mixture of manga style drawings and story telling, with a cast of very British people. Wonderful selection of characters who portray all kinds of different people of our real world. Wonderful bisexual representation with our main boy Nick. A light and fluffy story, even the angsty bits aren’t too angsty and you’ll feel warm and fuzzy inside. I’m also very excited for volume three to come out in early February!

 

IMG_7267the witch doesn’t burn in this one by Amanda Lovelace

I’d call this the political book of insta poetry. This has similar formatting to Rupi Kaur, which makes it accessible and easy to get through, and leaves an echo of each poem’s final line in your mind. It’s also very inclusive feminist art, I’ve not read anything that includes all women in their art and says it so out right. I love the links to witches and magic, it really hit the nail on the head with metaphors and analogies. This book made me feel angry and powerful all at once and fed me motivation to change things. If you’re looking for revolution, this is your poetry book.

IMG_0504To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

I watched the film first guys, I know, it’s an unwritten rule. But I don’t care! It was actually really enjoyable to read this after watching the film because I could slowly pick out the bits they did and didn’t keep in, which is a really fun game for me really! I love this book, it was so fun and silly, some bits still shocked me and I think I’ll continue reading the series because there was a pretty anticlimactic ending to the book. At least the film, you could pretend that was the only one (even though there is definitely a second one coming soon) but you can’t do that with the book unless you want to perpetually never know what happens! It’s a great book to show teenage readers that you will love many people in your life, not all of them will love you back or end happily like most YA shows.

IMG_0506Leah on The Off Beat by Becky Albertalli

This was teenage me in a book. One line literally a couple of pages in got me. The book for fat, bi, slytherin girls with a single mother. You might think ‘there aren’t many of those’, but you’d be surprised. This book not only has one bi female character, but a few (!!!) and is a really nice follow on from Simon vs. The Homosapiens Agenda where you still see the others milling around in the background but you get more of Leah’s story and what she’s hiding. She, like Simon, hasn’t come out either. I saw a lot of this story coming from watching Love, Simon and then reading the book, which I think is really great story telling, giving us some subtle foreshadowing. If you have an idea what I’m talking about, you’re probably right.

IMG_0508Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: a dangerous trans girl’s confabulous memoir by Kai Cheng Thom

This book was an interesting one. I won it in a giveaway and I’m glad that happened, because I’m not sure I would have picked it up myself. It’s easy to read and has a wonderful twist on the typical memoir with beautiful fantasy comparisons and descriptions. I am definitely keeping this book for reference when I want to try something different, or am writing something with fantasy elements. There were a few sections I wasn’t huge on, but I feel they would have resonated more with a trans woman reader, such as the three pages of poetry about her hair. The ending was a surprise and made me quite sad, but I would totally recommend people read it!

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Prozac Nation: young and depressed in America, a memoir by Elizabeth Wurtzel

Trigger Warnings: Talk of mental illness, suicide (ideation and attempts), sexual assault, abuse. 

I’m sad to say I struggled through this book. It’s very up my alley and there were parts I did really enjoy. But I felt like some parts went over my head and I would read long paragraphs where I had no idea what was happening or what was being said. Particularly as I got towards the end of the book. I pushed on, only because I wanted to know what happened, there wasn’t a hugely satisfying ending, and then it was followed by an epilogue which felt more like an academic essay and a follow up essay after the book had its first round of publishing. It felt a bit long to me, a lot could have been cut if I’m being honest. It’s a shame because I did really enjoy some parts but these other sections really ruined it for me.

 

IMG_0498Wranglestone by Darren Charlton

I Honestly had no idea I wanted or needed this book until I read the description. It was amazing, I read the whole thing in one day which I haven’t done in ages! Couldn’t put it down. The queer rep is great, I think the more sexual content was perfectly hinted at without writing a sex scene… (which is a hot debate subject) I love that there was a little bit of disability rep too! Often people with disabilities in a zombie book/film/show die because of it etc. This is a great adventure book that ‘just so happens’ to centre a gay character. I could go on but I won’t coz it’ll just become spoilers and I’d rather let everyone have a chance to read themselves! (Comes out Feb 6th!)

 

I don’t read nearly as much as other book bloggers and YouTubers, but I wasn’t far off a book a month in 2019 so that’s my 2020 goal. One book a month (on average…) so 12 books with a few extras incase I really need to DNF something or have some spare reading time.

 

~ Artie

My 2020 Goals!

Hey pals,

I’m doing a little comparison between my goals I set at the beginning of 2019 and setting new goals!

(Main picture from: libertipix.com)

This blog

2019: 11 followers

By the end of 2019: 100 followers minimum

End of 2019

172 (I reached my goal)

2020 goal: 200-300

 

My facebook page

2019: 61 likes

By the end of 2019: 100 likes minimum

End of 2019

102 (I reached my goal)

2020 goal: 200-300

 

Twitter

2019: 259 followers (but this constantly goes up and down by 10)

By the end of 2019: 300-500 followers

End of 2019

667 (I got even further than my goal)

2020 goal: 700-800

 

Instagram

2019: 726 followers (also goes up and down by 20 constantly)

By the end of 2019: 1,000 followers

End of 2019

end of 2019: 882 (didn’t reah goal, this has been the hardest platform to gain permanent followers on)

2020 goal: 1,000-1,500

 

YouTube

2019: 120 subscribers

By the end of 2019: 200-500 subscribers (I find this one really hard to gain subscribers on compared to everything else so I’ve kept it reasonably low)

End of 2019

end of 2019: 179 (did not reach goal, not surprised!)

2020 goal: 200-300

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(photo from libertipix)

I have a reading goal this year to try and read 12 books, one a month as I read maybe 8-9 books this year so I’m not far off and have definitely started to enjoy reading and taking some time out to do it. I think this aim will benefit me mentally.

 

I also plan to put my physical health as a priority, since my surgery, my Crohn’s symptoms have calmed down a lot and I hope to maybe reach a remission this year and not need to take any other medications like biologics.

 

Share some of your 2020 goals with me! I’d love to hear what everyone wants to do in the new year.

 

~ Artie

Winter Watching for The Gays

Hey pals,

 

I wanted to give you a little viewing suggestion in that weird moment between ChristmasLove Simon Launch One Sheet (1) and New Year for my fellow gays. It’s a short little list, but hey who cares!

Love, Simon: Not a Christmas film but has a very important section during Christmas. We love a Christmas coming out! This is generally a cute, warm film so felt it appropriate to include.

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Let It Snow: The new Netflix film based on the book written by three authors from three different perspectives. The added more P.O.V’s including a queer relationship and actually casted queer people to play them too! Another soft film with Love, Simon vibes, just totally in a blizzard!

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Merry, Happy, Whatever… : A Netflix show I stumbled upon about a very dysfunctional family and all their other-halves and how they all learn to accept each other and be more themselves. It also includes a coming out from someone who was initially married to the ‘opposite’ sex. It’s fun and frustrating but has a really great ending.

 

I hope you enjoy watching these in your free time before the New Year, and I wish you all a splendid end to 2019.

 

~ Artie

 

Still open for new year’s tarot readings! hmu on twitter, £2 per card, up to 8 cards, all done via email or twitter messenger. Payment via paypal.

A Truthful Thrift Shopping Experience

Hey pals,

 

I finally got out of the house alone and wanted to try and find some of the things on my thrifted clothes wish list (spoiler: I didn’t find any of them…) and I tried on a bunch of clothes and took photos, so I wanted to tell you about my experience shopping as a mid-size queer person. I’m also disabled, if you’re new here, and have a chronic illness which make me very fatigued. This shopping trip was the worst weather I’ve been out in since my third year at uni when March was frozen over. So I only made it to and through two shops before been too tired and needing to go home. I also left all my shopping bags in the car and only had my backpack, and really hate buying plastic bags. I had limited space.

 

Nike t-shirt £3.99

The first thing I tried on was this Nike t-shirt. Now, I know nothing about vintage sportswear so it’s probably not that old, but it had a cute 90’s feel to it. I jokingly called this the lesbian footballer look when I sent it to my friend, seeking her approval.

ASOS men’s shirt (XL?)

The next item was this ASOS men’s shirt in a beautiful blush pink. I didn’t like how it fit, which was very unfortunate, as i loved the colour of it. It was also poppers not buttons? So, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this… so it went back on the rack.

 

Cotton Traders shirt £5.99 (M)

I found two Cotton Trader shirts, and looking at the label I could tell this was a good brand (never heard of them but the label was real fancy and unique) plus it helps giving me a self-esteem boost that it was a size medium and fit me really nicely. I loved this muted colour striped one, less of a fan of the next one…

Cotton Traders shirt (M)

Even though this is the one that caught my eye on the rack first. My best friend make me feel like I can take more fashion risks and I picked this up with her in mind. But, sadly, I just didn’t like the orange tones that much.

I then popped to a different shop. One of the main things on my wish list is a decent pair of jeans that are similar to my Levi’s but different colours. I picked up two pairs of blue jeans labelled 36 inch waist and neither of them fit! Very rude.

 

I also tried on a pair that said it was 38 inch waist (which I was sure would be a bit too big) but even holding them up, they genuinely could have housed a circus. I didn’t even need to undo the button to pull them up.

 

Next UK 14 £4.20

I did find a very cute velour women’s top. I don’t often look in the women’s section but this charity shop looked pretty boojy and had a lot of really nice clothes hanging up (near the front anyway) and I found this in a 14. I vary from 14-16 in tops really depending on the cut and material but it looked pretty cute, even though the neck was a lot wider than I’m used to (I wear men’s crew necks all the time) so I bought this. Also, Next isn’t a bad shop for quality so I felt pretty pleased with myself.

 

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Len Goodman Memoir £2 & T cup 99p

I bought some non-clothing items, because I’m always looking for Christmas or birthday presents for people. I found the perfect mug for my Gran (who’s name begins with a T) because she struggles to hold cups based on their weight and how big the handle is, and this looked pretty perfect and wasn’t heavy. I was from Wilko, still had the sticker on the bottom so likely brand new and probably anywhere from £1-£5 originally so 99p isn’t bad! And I found Len Goodman’s autobiography. Me, my mum and Gran all love watching Strictly Come Dancing, and he used to be head judge. The blurb sounds really interesting and I think all three of us would probably enjoy reading it so £2 it pretty good for three different people!

Atmosphere £4.50

This is my final item, the first bag I’ve bought. I was a little pissed when I got it home and saw it was a Primark bag, but considering it was probably more that what I paid and it was still in reasonable shape, I think I can cope. I like a cross body strap and always keep an eye out for smaller bags that I can take and use for like a night out or to go out somewhere I don’t want to take a massive backpack or my messenger bag. I felt like this could be worn by any gender, and I hate flashy bags, so this one felt right and looks like I’ll fit everything I need in there!

 

My Total was £21.67 for 6 items, which is err-ing on the pricier side, but a lot of the more expensive items were good quality clothing so I don’t mind too much. Whereas I’ve been to a few £3 a bag sales, I’ve picked up items that have gone straight to depop sale coz I really just didn’t want to waste the bag space and some of those were pretty decent brands for hardly any money at all. I think I may have found one of my new passions to write and make YouTube videos about. I haven’t really seen many LGBT+ people making thrifting content, the few I have are either L.A based or really skinny, si I want to put myself out there as a mid-size, nonbinary, bi, disabled, and chronically ill person who loves thrifting and style!

 

 

I highly recommend any UK people check out my depop! I am a trans friendly shop (obviously but I feel it always needs to be said) and I post pretty quickly and I do try to sell as cheaply as I can but it is my main hussle that makes money so please try to be understanding.

 

~ Artie

What Are My Family Buying Each Other For Christmas?

Hey pals,

 

With Christmas swiftly coming, as usual, I thought I’d talk to you about my family’s present buying habits now that I am an adult. Christmas isn’t the same when you either aren’t a child or don’t have a child to celebrate with, it’s almost like any other day except we all exchange some gifts. Christmas can be extremely wasteful and I’m sure I’m not the only person who used to constantly get useless tat made of cheap plastic. So, this is what we do now.

  1. Buying Useful Presents: For the most part, my family don’t ever ‘want’ anything most of the time, but we all need certain things. For example, my Gran likes taking lutingold supplements for her eyes from Holland & Barrett. Supplements and vitamins can be pretty expensive, but Holland & Barrett often do sales where you basically get a pot for free. Last year, my mum bought my Gran almost a year’s worth of these and that’s the plan again this time around! I’ve also added this to my list as I always take a multi-vitamin to keep on top of my Crohn’s and occasionally other vitamins too.
  2. Buying Second Hand: My family often want certain clothing items, either for events or due to the time of year or maybe we had the item but wore it out. My mum and I picked up some pieces for my Granddad at a big second hand sale where you can fill a bag for £3! We got him a nice shirt, a jumper, and a sleeveless pullover along with a bunch of other stuff for myself. His bits probably didn’t even equal £1 but they were great condition. We also picked up a pair of jeans for him in another £3 a bag sale, and I found a great tacky t-shirt for my best friend Meghann.
  3. Buying an Experience: My mother and I often struggle with asking for specific items to unwrap for birthdays and Christmas and would rather go see a show or go on holiday. My mum took me to Milan for a long weekend for my birthday this year, and my family are planning on buying some decent tickets to see the show Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg and Jennifer Saunders as a kind of combo christmas and birthday present (her birthday is 25th November) because they’ll probably be somewhat expensive but worth going to. Or, for a cheaper option, we will designate a day out together either to go do something or just for a meal and a wander.
  4. Going for a Meal with the Extended family: For parts of the family you don’t see very often, it’s a nice idea to go for a meal or do something altogether so you can catch up and spend some quality time rather than buying something and continuing not being able to see them. This also work for friends as well, whether they’re just busy working or live a little further away. I plan on doing a little last minute Christmas shopping with Meghann as I’ve not been able to see her in person since my birthday because of my health and also her busy schedule!
  5. Making something: You don’t have to be a supreme artiste to make something for family. I found a great little tutorial that turned an old t-shirt into a dog toy! Great for your dog and also for your friends who have dogs! There are also tonnes of things you could make by hand with a little help from a YouTube tutorial, but try to make sure it’s something they would want or use to try and avoid more stuff cluttering houses or ending up in landfill.

 

This was a short, probably incomplete, list of what my family are doing this year for Christmas! I hope this helps anyone and gives other ideas for alternatives or a new perspective on what we should be buying for Christmas. Sometimes the best presents are useful ones!

 

Happy Holidays

~ Artie