Merwin: Bare Bones Taxidermy

As fish mounts go, these are definitely unusual and maybe even a little gruesome. A small Florida company called Helter … Continued

As fish mounts go, these are definitely unusual and maybe even a little gruesome. A small Florida company called Helter Skeletons produces full-skeleton mounts of various gamefishes that are some of the most eye-catching things I’ve seen in years. The largemouth-bass skeleton shown here is one example. Can you imagine something like this rising from the lily pads?

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The makers explained that they’ll take your fish as shipped to them frozen, clean the carcass down to the bones, give the skeleton some sort of light-epoxy treatment to hold everything in its proper place, and return the mount in an attractive shadow box, ready for display. The actual cleaning work is done by a horde of carrion-eating Dermestid beetles, which eat away all the flesh. Such beetles are also used by regular taxidermists in producing some animal mounts. For an interesting example, check out a Montana company called Big Sky Beetle Works.

Predictably, and like regular taxidermy, none of this comes cheaply. Helter Skeletons prices their work by the inch, with a 10-inch fish, skeletized and shadow-boxed, costing about $290. The company has some work for sale from stock and also does custom jobs. As a conversation piece to hang on the wall, I find this to be really tempting.