A young female taxidermist is attempting to challenge misconceptions about the industry after sharing that she is constantly trolled for her animal creations.
Elle Kaye, 30, says she faces abuse from cruel trolls and animal rights activists who have called her a ‘killer’.
However, Elle, who specialises in bird taxidermy, said she isn’t shocked at people’s misconceptions about her job because not enough is known about it – for example, she only works on specimens who have died by natural causes.
Elle has worked as a taxidermist for almost a decade and said the industry is full of young, arty people, including lots of women.
‘Being a taxidermist is such a skill and it’s something that takes years and years to master – it’s very arduous.
‘If you hated animals, I assure you, you would not devote your life to this kind of practice.
‘People will comment “It’s giving me Jeffrey Dahmer vibes”,’
But Elle says she is challenging stereotypes.
‘I think because [taxidermy is] not very commonplace, it’s no surprise people have these sort of stigmatised connotations.
‘But then they meet someone like me – I’m a young 30-year-old woman, I’m just a regular person – I go out drinking and dress up like any young woman would.’
Elle used to eat her specimens too, to ensure there was no waste, but said her attitude towards eating meat in general.
‘As I come from a more conservational point of view and try to make my business as sustainable as possible, eating meat just doesn’t align to that position,’ she said.
‘I do not purchase or eat meat.’
Elle said taxidermy is a highly-skilled art form and loves to meet new people and ‘educate’ them about her work.
‘We are just so invested in the skill, the process and the preservation of the specimens,’ she said.
‘I would argue that taxidermy straddles both art and science – therefore, we’re coming from a place that’s not just creative.
‘There is some important scientific process that has to occur for this work to outlive all of us. I would argue I’m an animal activist to a point, and an animal lover.
Prices for Elle’s incredible creations, which come in all shapes and sizes from a tiny garden bird to a lustrous peacock or a luminous parakeet, range from £250 to £2,500.
She buys specimens from zoos, keeping a backlog of the birds in a freezer before transforming them into immortal works of art. She then sells them to interior designers, art buyers and even film companies.
Elle only uses specimens who have died from natural causes. She tries to keep them as natural-looking as possible but admits you ‘can’t replicate nature.’
Meanwhile, she turns down requests that she find disrespectful. A man once asked to turn a pair of guinea pigs into house slippers and she refused.
Elle fell into the practice after studying sculpture at university but always had a love for science and taxidermy allowed her to merge her interests.
Now, she wouldn’t change her job for anything.
‘Somebody suggested I try taxidermy and it was a perfect marriage of anatomy, science, and model making,’ she said.
‘It tapped into my creative flair, but also allowed me to indulge that kind of scientific interest that never went away.’
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