A new workshop in Edinburgh in Mouse Taxidermy offers the unique and slightly odd opportunity to stuff dead mice and pose them up as humans.
Instead of leaving with a new fruit bowl or the ability to order dinner in Paris, students head home with their own stuffed and embalmed rodent, all ready to be dressed in a range of outfits and styles, polka dot dresses, Victorian garb, punk or even suited and booted.
The four-hour class, costing £65, is run by trained taxidermist Shannon Marie Harmon, whose own works can sell for £100 upwards.
Only frozen feeder mice bought from pet shops are used for the arts and crafts session, with each left to thaw beforehand. Shannon then instructs her students in making the first incision near the sternum before cutting down to the groin.
A preservative known as Borax is then applied before the mouse is sewn up, ready to be dressed.
Despite such “icky” details, a number of upcoming taxidermy workshops are already said to be generating quite a buzz from people keen to try their hand at something different.
Ms Harmon, 30, who teaches at the London Taxidermy Academy, said: “I fully understand that there is a natural curiosity and a kind of morbid fascination with this, but interest is definitely growing. I currently run two 15-person classes a week in London.
“It’s a novel thing to do, you learn a skill whilst also leaving with a unique piece of art to display as you wish.”
Anthropomorphic taxidermy – the practice of mounting and displaying stuffed animals as if they were humans – was a popular art form during the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The best known practitioner was Walter Potter, whose famous works included The Kitten Wedding and The Kitten Tea Party.
Ms Harmon regularly receives bizarre commissions from fans and collectors of the niche art form, as well as offers of fresh roadkill.
She said: “I’ve created headpieces and hair clips with tiny sleeping mice on top and have also been asked to stuff a rat and put him riding a mini tricycle.
“One of the weirdest was from a guy who asked for a mouse holding a cage with little humans inside. People also often offer me roadkill such as squirrels, birds or rabbits to stuff. I’ve become quite friendly with one or two vets.”
The workshops are being held at the White Rabbit boutique, Broughton Street. Demand is already high with a number of briefs already snapped up.