Forest Fern Creations

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Name: Sarah Bartell

Location: Portland, OR

Links (Website, Etsy, Tumblr, Facebook, DeviantArt etc):

Mediums: Photography, pelts, bones, leather, wire

Tell us a bit about your aesthetic:
Most of my artwork, especially in the realm of taxidermy, is aimed at giving ‘new life’ to an animal. This requires that I, to an extent, put aside certain artistic licenses and focus on recreating something that already exists in nature. On the other hand, most of my taxidermy work is also made to be functional - more than just a mount on a wall – especially in the case of the headdresses I make. So I’m required to find a certain ‘happy medium’ which allows for the mount to be worn, while likewise maintaining a realistic look.

How does your workspace motivate and inspire you?:
My primary workplace is my home, so it’s a place in which I feel very comfortable. I’m encouraged to take risks and explore my own skills while surrounded by familiar people and animals – both dead and alive. My housemates are gracious about my chosen occupation, and have even been known to lend a hand in skinning and collecting various dead things with me. We have a shop specifically dedicated to processing roadkill, a large ‘death pile’ in the back corner of our half-acre lot, and a neat little office area where I spend most of my time creating things with finished parts.
Outside my home, I often find myself ‘working’ in the wilds of Oregon’s forest and countryside, where I actively seek out and collect many specimens for my art and creations. None of this would be possible without my truck, affectionately dubbed “The Old Man,” which has been a home to me as much as my actual house.

What is one part of your art space that you could not live without:
I honestly couldn’t live without the Death Pile. It’s been experimental in its creation but has proven to be nothing but helpful to me so far. It allows me to safely and discreetly dispose of carcasses from the specimens I collect, and I can harvest the bones from said bodies later on. The byproduct makes exceptional fertilizer to boot!

Are there any activities you do while you craft? Music? Candles? Movies? Eating?:
I’m a music-lover but I’ve also been hooked on several different TV shows over the course of the years. Normally, while working on taxidermy, I watch nature documentaries about the animal I’m currently working on, so that I can pause the screen at any moment for reference material, while also learning more about the animal in my hands.

And finally, what are some words you live by when it comes to your art and your workspace?: “Nothing goes to waste” is a philosophy that I’ve been adamant about living by since day one of working with wildlife parts. I have literal bins full of scrap material that I cannot bring myself to throw out, but which is too numerous and tedious to list for individual sale. I do offer ‘grab bags’ of said scrap material so if you want to help me out, you know what to do!

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