"I really like something that has a little bit of gore to it, but it's also very beautiful and delicate," says Heather Schnell, holding up an octopus tentacle suspended in liquid that she has just purchased at the Morbid Anatomy Museum flea market in Gowanus, Brooklyn.
"I have a back room that's all medical oddities themed. I have a little shelf with apothecary bottles, and I just needed a little something to give it an extra twist," she adds. The Morbid Anatomy Museum held its last flea market of the summer season on Sunday. With more vendors than ever, the bazaar of whimsically grotesque items moved from the museum's year-old headquarters into larger digs for the finale at the Bell House. A long line of eager customers still stretched down the block waiting to enter, enduring the blazing sun for a chance to buy handmade jewelry, books on the occult, antique taxidermy and artfully preserved biological specimens.
Wren Britton, Queens: "I love jockstraps, so I decided to make these anthropomorphic ones. I have this human head one, I have a deer head one, I have an octopus, I have another one that's like a wolf. It's definitively more of a decorative piece, but it can be kind of protective too."
Mark Splatter, Brooklyn: "There's a lot of science that goes into doing wet specimen preparations. Just the chemical composition of different preservatives like formaldehyde and alcohol, and how it affects the structures, and how long it'll last. There are some specimens out there that are 300, 400 years old. Mostly they come from breeders. A reptile breeder sent me this turtle who didn’t make it. The fish came from a pet store, the frogs from a biological supply company. Some of them I got at Chinatown or supermarkets – wherever I can find interesting biological material."
Wilder Duncan, Brooklyn: "Here I have an assortment of roe deer plaques from Bavaria, a shark jaw from Florida, alligator head from Florida, taxidermy bunny, ducklings, blowfish, squirrels, some moose bones, an aoudad ram skull, a bunch of elk skulls, a bunch of deer bones, some bear pelvises."
Daisy Tainton, Brooklyn (left): "My father's cat killed that chipmunk in Oregon, and I taxidermized it. Mostly my pieces are anthropomorphic. I think they're cute – I like doll houses, but I don't necessarily like human dolls."
Kristen Chiacchia, Brooklyn (with drink, right): "I bought a necklace from Purevile. I've been a longtime fan, so I was happy to get the chance to come here today and finally buy one of his pieces. Now I'm just doing some other shopping, looking to maybe find some taxidermy or something."
Wilder Duncan, Brooklyn: "I teach a class on how to articulate bat skeletons at the Morbid Anatomy Museum. Articulating means organizing the skeleton into a life-like pose, rather than a flattened or artificial pose. So it's some sort of pose that, if it had its flesh still on it, it would be sort of in that position conceivably, in life."