Taxidermy and Human Skin

Cripes - I just tried to post this and my computer froze. Hoping this won’t result in two threads. Apologies if it does.

Let me preface this by saying I am not a psycho-killer skin fetishist - just doing research for a novel. Honestly!

Now, the questions:

Suppose I had a human corpse lying around, and I wanted to use the skin to make a stuffed trophy. How feasable would it be to make a realistic one? I know I’d need an armature to stretch the hide over, and so forth - that’s not what concerns me. My real question concerns how well the skin would come out…

Taxidermy seems to work pretty well on furry and feathery animals, and their hides can end up looking quite lifelike. But what about human skin? Would it look all pickled and gross after being tanned, and if so, could that be remedied with make-up?

In short, could I have Grandma stuffed, and prop her up in the living room looking as bright and sunny and non-dead as ever? Specific how-to info would be helpful.

Thanks, all!

Uh huh, sure you aren’t a psycho-killer.

Vegtable tanned leather doesn’t look at all like rawhide so I doubt if the tanning process would give you a real looking human. I see no reason it would look “pickled” but my guess is it would be opaque like buckskin or bark tanned cow leather. Since a lot of our color comes from blood under the skin you’d have a hard time making it look real. I think that’s one reason wax is used as it’s somewhat translucent.

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This was covered in the “could I make a jacket out of human skin” thread.

Being a forensics buff, I encountered a book where a man named Carl von Cosel dug up a young woman he obsessed over and pretty much made her a “trophy”. He used chemicals instead of the traditional taxidermy methods. This is the book:
Undying Love: The Shocking True Story Of A Passion That Defied Death
Author: Harrison, Ben

Wow. Somebody asks about tanning human skin, and gets a serious technical answer and a “we already covered this”. I’ve finally found my home!

“It puts the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose.”

Well, I read the human leather jacket thread, sock munkey, but really didn’t find what I was looking for. Yeah, you could make leather, but leather doesn’t look like alive-person skin, so much, which is really my question.

ksolitaire - I’ll have the check out that book. Thanks for the tip!
I appreciate the input, all. Keep 'em coming!

According to James Thurber, you cannot stuff a human being. He did a cartoon showing a woman crouching on top of a bookcase, while a husband says “Up there is my first wife, and this here is the present Mrs. Quist” (I’m quoting from memory). In an essay he wrote explaining some of his more popular cartoons, he says (again from memory) “My taxidermist tells me you cannot stuff a dead woman, so she must be alive.”

For purposes of your story, perhaps you should look into the technique of the lunatic who is “preserving” dead people with some kind of plasticizing method. Here’s a link: Body Worlds

Disgusting as the whole concept sounds, it may be a more practical approach for a fictional psycho. I don’t think you’d ever be able to create a realistic “stuffed human”. Even un-tampered with corpses don’t look human.

Alto, that was the first thing I thought of when I saw this thread. :slight_smile:

rowr the first thing i thought of was what ethelrist said…more precisely “I wonder how many posts before someone posts what ethelrist said” :smiley: