Mysterious is an artful rustic-chic style taxidermy alternative of a whitetail deer buck. He features an understated neutral palette with subtle intricate details that unfold with closer observation. Just as it’s name implies, Mysterious is never obvious or simplistic.
Inspired by a brown and gray agate slice encircled with gold metallic, grey Czech, and brown seed beads flow down and around its center, their movement splitting around the lovely agate centerpiece. Dark brown and smoky black are added to brown and gray patchwork areas, some more delicate than others adding depth and contrast defined by lines of gold. Natural blue labradorite with a chatoyant grey-blue flash outline the outer eyes and sides while natural jute encases his antlers. Two bronze diamond faceted beads at the back and fore enhance the central line of the design. Faceted barrel beads of natural Botswana Agate, running up and down the center are as important to the design as the central Agate slice itself. His sleek design and neutral colors are a perfect example of a rustic-chic taxidermy alternative.
Metaphysically these stones are thought to help with attentiveness to detail, consistency, perseverance, and stimulating exploration of the unknown. The colors, lines, curves and details of Mysterious provoke different images and thoughts for everyone. Are the metaphysical attributes of Agate real? This is a mystery for you to decide.
Continue reading below to see the making of Mysterious.
This whitetail buck required quite a bit of cleaning. He had obviously sat out in nature for some time before being taken in. Both nasal bones were fortunately still with him (barely) although they inevitably fell off during this process. The even light coloration of his antlers both impressed and mystified me. I haven’t seen that often, especially in a buck in his condition.
I initially considered leaving his upper nasal bones off, as I did with Ancient Warrior but that didn’t seem to suit this piece. During this part of the process I lovingly nick-named him “Topsy Tervy”. His skull was so light and antlers so heavy that he constantly tipped over without support. I fell in love with the shape of his antlers. But those antlers gave me quite a few “love taps” on the head! Along the way of the clay process he became more and more stable, especially after reintroducing the nasal bones.
I chose a very pale gray for this piece in order to keep with his neutral color scheme. I liked that the color was very close to the that of the natural skull tone. Staying with that theme, the jute used around his antler bases was also kept natural.
Bead Selection and Beading
Oops! I was so excited about this bead work layout and how well it came together that I forgot to take any pictures of the process! I was already to this stage when I finally remembered. But I do think it is a good example of the process underway.
At first, working with this skull and these beads I had thoughts of a dry riverbed or a rivers edge. But the central flowing line seemed like a path or was it a map? The night I finished beading him I showed my husband. He held him, turning him this way and then that to take everything in. Finally he said, “He looks so…mysterious.” I got goose bumps and my mouth fell open! Of course! Mysterious he is.
A while back when my Aunt Sandy Bergman saw some pictures of Blue Moon Shadow, she made a very nice comment then asked jestingly, “Wonder how he feels being decorated in jewels!” Being silly I replied, “He feels marvelous darling!”
However, I later thanked my Aunt for making me truly in my heart think about that question. How would these animals “feel” about being decorated in beads and jewels?
Honestly, I have no idea. What I do know is, since man’s beginning, he has tried to honor animals by using or displaying them, for food, shelter, clothing, spiritual items or jewelry. Even mounting them on their walls as skull mounts or with their hides intact or quite often today as full mounts. The same question can be asked about all of these things…” Wonder how he feels about…” any of them?
In any and all of these cases no one can truly “know” how they would “feel” about it. But I believe we all hope that we give them the honor and respect they deserve, in life and death.
The deer I have for purchase were taken by nature, not man. I give 100% honor to “Her” in her choices but do these bucks not deserve as much admiration and respect for their lives as the ones taken by hunters? They have no hide to cover them and no one would mount them European style. What then? Should they just be left and forgotten? Or would they prefer to be remembered and honored…in some way…even if it’s decorated with beads?
So, how do they “feel” about what I do? I will never in this life know the answer but I can only hope with all my heart they would “feel” the respect I truly wish and try to give them.
I know we were just being silly, but thank you again Aunt Sandy. Thinking about that question has made me even more passionate about this art form.
Blue Moon Shadow is a regal Whitetail beaded skull art mount. Sparkling tiny crystals and a dark blue metallic finish coat the hand-cut rough-face druzy agate centerpiece. Czech diamond-shaped bronze beads encompass the centerpiece’s rustic trim.
From there this Whitetail beaded skull art design transitions into a diamond shape that consists of bronze faceted, navy seed beads, blue Swaroski crystals, and Swaroski dark lapis pearls. In essence, Blue Moon Shadow mimics the dynamic night sky. As the pattern morphs from the center, its colors remain consistent, but with larger dark blue rainbow, sapphire rainbow, gold, and black smoke seed beads. Finally, hand-painted royal blue jute dress the base of his antlers.
With his deep hues, sparkles, and graceful form, Blue Moon Shadow conjures up many feelings, thoughts, and inspirations. What does the Blue Moon Shadow speak to you?
Continue reading below to see the making of Mysterious.
The Making of Blue Moon Shadow, a Whitetail Beaded Skull
This lovely skull came to me with his left nasal bone missing. I soaked and scrubbed as normal and then had to face this obstacle. Should I break off the right bone or take on the challenge of recreating the left? And then there was the odd coloration lines on his antlers. I’m guessing this skull was boiled rather than the more natural beetle process of cleaning though I can not say that for certain. Either way, both the nasal bone and antlers would be faced in other parts of the process.
I just could not bring myself to remove the right nasal bone and so took on the challenge of recreating the left. Being the first time I’d attempted such a reconstruction I was pleased with the outcome.
For some reason I felt very passionate about this skull. It was not the antlers that struck me but the skull itself. I had not even started to bead him and he was already my favorite so far in my skull art journey.
Painting the Antlers
Normally, if I’m going to paint the antlers I do it as part of the painting process. Sometimes I even wait until the beads are complete to have a better idea what shade works well with the design coloration. But I couldn’t get past the discoloration lines and decided to paint the antlers even before I’d chosen beads for him. A little out of order but I was never sorry about the decision.
I had originally intended to use the gray agate slice on this skull and this blue druzy agate on another. However neither would sit right on the skulls. So I tried switching them and…Voila!
Now that I knew he wished to be blue, I set out laying out the initial design. It became obvious early on that rather than having a larger area laid out, this design idea was one I just had to go for and allow to evolve.
To enhance this particular Whitetail beaded skull design, I painted him the same deep blue of the druzy agate centerpiece.
After cutting the jute for his antler bases I felt like the natural color would detract from the design. So I painted it deep blue as well.
I hadn’t even finished beading the center design when I knew his name. Blue Moon Shadow. He’s like a gentle night in the woods with the moon peaking between the tree limbs and stars twinkling in the dark sky. He surrounds you with blue-black shadows and pinprick sparkles. I love it when someone sees him in person and comments with amazement how some of the tiny beads sparkle and look like stars. Confirmation that the design conveys the right message and his name is very fitting.
Ancient Warrior is a whitetail deer beaded skull art piece. He features five teardrop red tiger eye stones. Gold rocaille, Czech bronze, diamond faceted, and copper seed beads all border these stones and form a central cross. Leather insets and an array of brown and black seed beads complete a rustic-chic design. Organic round wood beads adorn his antler bases. All of these components move together in striking unison to portray a primal fighting spirit.
Humans evolved from gatherer/hunter to defender/warrior while other species, like the deer, have stayed ever true as the “pure” warrior. He was born to defend his territory, breeding rights, and stand his ground against his own species and predators, two legged or four.
Ancient Warrior is not for sale as he remains part of the artists private beaded skull art and taxidermy collection.
Although this piece is not for sale, if you have your own skull, European, or shield mount, whatever the species, Leesa can craft it into a one-of-a-kind artwork centerpiece for you. Contact her at Leesa@UntamedElegance.net or 616.422.2342.
Grand Chaos is a fun and fascinating Steampunk beaded deer skull art piece. A copper color scheme, wires, tubes and gears in addition to leather inserts further his classic mechanical Steampunk vibe. With this genre in mind he sports a movable monocle covering a glass tube “eye” connected to gears by copper wires.
Brown leather surrounds the base of his antlers enhancing the “wild west” flare. Likewise aged copper inserts, hinges and a keyhole, as well as the classic skeleton key continue the Steampunk theme. His mechanisms are intricately designed from a combination of gear focals, tiny watch parts, screws and antique brass and copper plated beads.
Everything about this Steampunk beaded deer skull leaves to the imagination the purpose of each gear and how it all works.
Continue reading below to see the making of Grand Chaos.
I’ve dedicated this Steampunk beaded deer skull piece to Benj Spencer from Pixel Ink Frame as he suggested the Steampunk art idea while working on my logo and website.
I love Steampunk and immediately knew which deer skull in my current inventory I wanted to use. The fact that he is a smaller skull with a damaged tine and missing teeth made him just the sort of rogue I envisioned for this piece.
Benj is so creative and I had several insights working with this buck. I am grateful for the journey I have had with them both.
The Making of Grand Chaos, Steampunk Beaded Deer Skull
I have no pics of Grand Chaos prior to the clay stage due to the frantic pace this piece started with including the mid-holiday season, out-of-town family coming and preparing for my first photo shoot. In hindsight I should have already had a clue to his “name”. I wish I had taken pics of his initial rugged state.
The majority of clay work on this whitetail buck skull was nothing out of the ordinary, until it came to his underside. Although it will rarely be seen, it was so deteriorated and split it degraded the integrity of the entire piece. His left upper nasal bone was broken off but this is not unusual and I reattached it with glue and clay.
On this Steampunk deer I wanted to try a new copper sheeting as well as a different type of paint available in the perfect copper color. I mean, what could go wrong using two new elements in a time crunch? And also starting with a totally different focal point design? Initially the paint and copper did not agree with my glue at all. However, after some practice I did manage to get them to all play nicely together.
While all of the Steampunk mechanisms were important to this design the eye was the key. Specifically the mechanical connections and monocle were the true focal point of this piece. Starting the design around an eye rather than the center of the skull was also a new idea for me.
I had no time to physically layout the complicated design on the buck skull due to the photo shoot. Instead I started with the simpler design on the opposite eye. Indeed, everything about his beginning felt very chaotic. All the same, it all came together beautifully and was a lot of fun to create.
Although the beading design I’d envisioned was not complete, for several reasons I stopped and sent photos to Benj for the site.
However, having seen all my other pieces he questioned some things about this one. I had not finished my vision and it showed. And so I replied:
“Since it is so different than my other pieces I got off track early by rushing with new materials for the photo shoot and then asking too many people for their opinions. I always show them to people throughout the process but with this one I started listening to people rather than the deer. I plan to finish the design the way I had originally planned, unless the buck has other ideas. Thanks for getting me back on track with my own art.”
The remainder of the design and coloring his antlers fell right into place. All that was left was a name and for the first time I struggled with naming a piece. I even resorted to looking up Victorian era and Steampunk phrases. Nothing fit. In honor of Benj Spencer I considered naming him “Benjo”, Victorian sailor slang for “A riotous holiday”. But, even though the era and meaning were spot on, this whitetail deer didn’t strike me as a sailor.
And so I sat down with him, considering our chaotic journey together as well as how beautiful he’d turned out. And I realized his name had been right there the entire time: Grand Chaos!