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Rensselaer Falls man discovers art in taxidermy

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RENSSELAER FALLS – Brian A. Matthie works in taxidermy the way other artists might work in oils or clay.

What began as a love of hunting as a young boy with his father, Stan Matthie, has developed into a love of creating dramatic scenes that give waterfowl new life.

“I find taxidermy to be relaxing,” he said. “It’s fun to bring the ducks or birds out, make them alive again and build habitats. It combines two things I love: working with my hands and being outdoors.”

In the two years since he began, Mr. Matthie has become a master in a medium that is not for the faint of heart.

Using an airbrush, lacquer paints and an occasional bit of caulk, Mr. Matthie said it takes at least two days after hunting and skinning the waterfowl to carefully stuff it and incorporate it into an artful scene.

At a state competition held in Syracuse earlier this month, Mr. Matthie’s waterfowl habitats were awarded two first- and second-place ribbons in the Professional Waterfowl Division at the United Taxidermist Association Convention.

The competition is held annually to allow taxidermists from across the state to test their skills and further their training through seminars. Although he attended last year, this was Mr. Matthie’s first year competing.

His hen mallard, which was made to look like its foot was scratching its face, won best in category honors from Ducks Unlimited for its habitat.

“I like to take my time,” he said. “The trees and branches from this scene are made with foam, and people kept asking to touch it to make sure it wasn’t real.”

All the mallards he displayed in the competition were harvested by Mr. Matthie and his golden retriever, Sierra, near the Upper and Lower Lakes Wildlife Management Area in the town of Canton. He said his dog played a big part in rekindling the love of hunting he had as a boy.

Earlier this month, Mr. Matthie opened a shop called Nature’s Vision Studio of Taxidermy, out of his home at 53 West Front St.

He charges approximately $250 to restore most harvested waterfowl. After more training, he said, he hopes to extend his services to larger mammals, including deer.

“It’s well worth it,” he said. “And it’s something that can last a lifetime. All you need to do is dust them off from time to time.”

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