First Person Singular

Sunday, December 31, 2006

People that know nothing about what I do think it's all blood and guts, and they think you just get a skin and pull it over the top of something, and then you're done. You have to know anatomy; you have to know muscle structure and how the bones work -- elbows, wrists, those kinds of things. You have to sew. You have to do sculpting. It's the small details that make the mount: like the moisture drops on the whiskers; the eyes -- how they're rotated. I really like the action poses. Like the fish jumping out of the water. A fox leaping up and catching a quail. That's life. Just frozen in time.

The only thing that becomes emotional for me -- I've done a couple of pets. I don't like doing them. You live with an animal 10, 15 years, you know exactly what they do, how they do it -- or how they talk, or how they pull their head, or whatever. Well, to create something like that is a lot more pressure on me, because I don't know this animal. Where, the guy that's shot that deer never saw that deer before -- he has no personality. So when I put him back together, he's perfect. Where, I do your pet, and one ear flopped all the time or something, I don't know that.

I've done a cat for a woman from California. She would call and say, "How's Tom doing?" She was calling about a family member. Her exact words were, "This is the first time he's been away from home." And he's stuck in my freezer, frozen like a rock. And I don't like cats, anyway. As soon as she got him, she was bawling. "He looks so real." Her husband had died -- got cancer, and within 30 days he died. She was in a bereavement group, and she would take Tom to bereavement group with her. And she said: "Everyone says he looks so real. I can get you a lot of business." And I kept telling her, "I'm backed up three or four years now." Most people from California are a little freaky, anyway. That's why I don't like fooling with these kinds of things.

Interview by Patricia Murret

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