African Skin Ottoman Furniture

Roger Martin is one of the most gifted innovators in taxidermy. His creativity in developing new products that solve problems and open up new marketing possibilities for taxidermists is unequalled. Year after year he continues to amaze the industry with his original ideas that quickly become new standards. With the introduction of the McKenzie line of African ottomans, he has now merged taxidermy with fine furniture, opening up an entirely new market for taxidermists using existing or discarded trophy skins.

These ottoman kits create a great opportunity to utilize back skins to create a piece of fine furniture. If your client has been to Africa more than a few times, he probably has some additional tanned skins that he doesn’t know what to do with. These ottomans are an elegant solution for offering another way to display safari trophies, even in a trophy room with no additional wall space, and one which will be appreciated by all family members, hunters and interior decorators alike.

OTM400 Large African Ottoman covered with zebra skin and accented with 3/4″ decorative nails.

Roger has designed these ottomans to be easily assembled by taxidermists. They feature elegant large bun feet and a rich ebony-stained mahogany molding which complements the color of any African skin. The specially manufactured foam cushion includes an innovative corner tucking slot which allows a taxidermist to easily create upholstery-quality corners without the need for specialized expensive upholstery tools. In fact, all you need is a stapler and a knife! The custom-designed foam cushion also includes an integrated full wooden framework for stapling the skin and anchoring decorative nails if desired.

OTM400 Large African Ottoman covered with blue wildebeest skin with no decorative nails.

Available in three sizes, these ottomans can be used on any sized skin. The large ottoman works well for zebra, blue wildebeest, kudu and giraffe, and requires a minimum skin size of 39″ x 51″. The medium size is ideal for red hartebeest size game, and needs a piece of skin at least 28″ x 34″. The small ottoman kit works for impala, blesbok, blackbuck, etc, and can be covered with a skin as small as 20″ x 20″.

OTM400 Large African Ottoman covered with giraffe skin and decorated with 3/4″ nails.

Putting together an ottoman kit is a simple project that can be accomplished is a matter of hours. This can be a real money maker, as well as a way to utilize and sell any African skins that taxidermists may have gathering dust in their collections. Below is a short three-minute introductory video in which Roger explains the concept and benefits of these ottoman kits.

In the following half-hour video, Roger gives a complete demonstration of all the steps necessary to assemble an ottoman kit, including his easy procedure for tucking the corners in the foam slots. By following the steps Roger shows in this video, you can easily convert any old tanned African skin that you might have lying around into a beautiful and functional piece of high-end furniture. Here is the procedure:

To order, or for more information on the African ottoman kits, you can find them on page 791 of McKenzie Catalog #40, or online at

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Whitetail Savings Club Benefits

I was recently talking to a taxidermist friend of mine when I casually asked how he liked the new McKenzie Whitetail Savings Club. His answer surprised me. He told me that had not enrolled in the club yet, even though he was buying whitetail mannikins from McKenzie every month. He said he wasn’t even planning to join. He explained, “That’s only like a dollar off on each form. It’s hardly worth my time.”

I realized right then that he didn’t understand the full scope of the benefits of this new program. It is much more than just a dollar credit for each mannikin. Club members can easily save $100 in shipping charges, even with the purchase of as few as a dozen deer forms. In fact, quite a few taxidermists have already surpassed $100 in savings in the first two months of this year! Read the rest of this entry »

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The Carl E. Akeley Memorial Stone

On May 21, 2014, the town of Clarendon, New York celebrated the 150th birthday of its most famous resident, Carl Akeley. Over 150 people attended the event hosted by Melissa Ierlan from the Clarendon Historical Society. Known as “the father of modern taxidermy,” Carl E. Akeley is the most revered master of his art. Nearly all modern taxidermy methods can be traced back to his innovations and inventions from a century ago.

Special guest speakers at the gala included taxidermy historian and past NTA President John Janelli of New Jersey, famed wildlife attorney Mike Oropallo of New York, and Akeley biographer Jay Kirk who authored the book “Kingdom Under Glass.” Presentations were made to the historical society, with John Janelli providing a copy of one of Akeley’s death masks from the gorilla “the Old Man of Mikeno” given by The Conservation Force and John J. Jackson III. Mike Oropallo, a partner in a Syracuse Law Firm, Hiscock & Barclay and contributor to Breakthrough Magazine was on hand to present the Historical Society with a letter written by the Blomquists along with a gold World Taxidermy Championships® medallion featuring Akeley on one side at age 19 and Jumbo the elephant on the other. It was a great evening, honoring Clarendon’s most famous son. Accounts of the celebration can be found online at Orleans Hub, The Daily News, and The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. Read the rest of this entry »

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~ In Memoriam 2014 ~

Despite our best efforts to hold on to the past, time marches on relentlessly. As 2014 comes to a close, we pause to pay tribute and reflect on the family, friends and colleagues that we lost during the year. In my family, the circle of life in 2014 was bittersweet. I lost my only sister suddenly to a heart attack in May, yet saw the arrival of two precious new granddaughters in January and November.

The losses to the taxidermy community were bittersweet as well. The departed’s absence from our lives will be felt for years to come, but their work, their art, their relationships, and their memories will live on within those of us whom were touched by their presence in our little corner of the world. Here are some of the friends, family, and colleagues that we lost in 2014. Read the rest of this entry »

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Golden Trout Paint Schedule

In 1992, Jeff Lumsden of Everette, Washington accomplished something only a handful of artists can claim, when he was awarded the coveted Judges’ Choice Best of Show at the World Taxidermy Championships with a beautiful chum salmon, winning him TWO gold Akeley medallions. Jeff has been one of the leading fish taxidermists of our day, not only winning top awards but also developing innovative product lines like Polytranspar™ Liquid Scales, Steelhead Mannikins and Still Life Lenses. But even before that, way back in the 1980’s, Jeff had been a successful taxidermist and published his paint schedules in Tim Kelly’s American Taxidermist Magazine. After American Taxidermist ceased publication, this decade-old golden trout paint schedule was re-published by WASCO in North American Taxidermy News in 2001. Now, here it it 13 years later, and I wanted to present Jeff’s nearly 30-year-old paint schedule one more time, and allow today’s artists to take advantage of his innovative paining techniques. Read the rest of this entry »

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