Road Kill Reborn - BodyShop Business

Road Kill Reborn

Marion Waldo McChesney is bringing back the dead. Sort of. In her artwork, she's giving new life to animals smashed by speeding motorists. So the next time you see a flattened frog in the road or squished lizard on the sidewalk, remember, there's road kill and then there's art.

And then, there’s road kill art.


Let’s face it. There’s definitely an untapped niche here. You fix plenty of damage resulting from animal-vs.-vehicle collisions, but have you ever stopped to think about what happens to the “victim” left on the road? I doubt it.

But McChesney did.

McChesney, an artist in Vermont, uses petrified road kill to make impressions in her pottery pieces. She started collecting road kill after spotting a smashed frog in a driveway. He’d been run over – a lot.

“He was perfectly preserved, and I wondered what he would look like in clay,” says McChesney.

After nearly two decades of collecting squished frogs, birds, lizards, seahorses and starfish, McChesney says others now do the collecting for her. She’s received flattened lizards in the mail, the chopped feet of a dead crow from a neighbor, a gecko from Hong Kong and other treasures tucked into envelopes and left at her door.

But not your ordinary bashed-and-battered road kill will end up in McChesney’s designs. After all, you wouldn’t want to see frog guts and lizard brains on the side of your salad bowl!

What people want, and what McChesney delivers, is dry, flat and totally recognizable specimens that require, at most, “occasional minor cosmetic surgery.”

So just how does she use the road kill? First, she molds the dish. Then she presses the “victim” into the earthy clay to make an impression, adds some colored glaze and fires it at high temperatures to get the same shiny results you might get in your paint shop.

The end product could be a soap dish for $18 or a meat platter for $125. You can get dancing frogs, crow’s feet designs (popular with the 40-somethings) and even turkey feet for Thanksgiving.
This isn’t an invitation to run over innocent animals crossing the road, mind you. But you can feel a little less guilty the next time you inadvertantly hit a toad – knowing that although you killed the little fellow, his memory just may live on.

Writer Cheryl McMullen is managing editor of BodyShop Business.
For more information on McChesney’s art, call (802) 325-3100 or visit her Web site at www.vtweb.com/waldo/index.html.

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