About the artist...
My name is Amy Ritchie-Carter. I am the owner-operator of Amy's Animal
Art, located in Olin, North Carolina. The small town of Olin is located not
far from I-77, just north of Statesville. My business was located in
Statesville for ten years until I moved to it's current location in summer of
2015.

I am 29 and have been doing taxidermy for sixteen years now. Many people
are surprised that I've been involved in taxidermy that long, at my age, but I
got an early start. My interest began as a hobby at age 13, when I began an
interest in collecting road kills and tanning their hides. It wasn't long before I
learned about taxidermy through searching the internet, picked up some tips
to get started and couldn't wait to bring some of my tanned hides "back to
life"!

My first projects were based soley on the fresh road kills that my dad, an
early morning paper carrier, found along his route. I also, oddly enough,
practiced on many domestic rats that I raised for my pet snake's food. Not
really knowing what I was doing, I had to make a lot of the body forms
from scratch and used other readily available household items to make my
taxidermy creations. My first taxidermy specimens were crudely crafted
from newspaper wrapped tightly with masking tape, painted beads for eyes
and pipe cleaners for a tail.  Little did I know, the knowledge I gained about
anatomy and thinking "out of the box" would help me later in my career.
Some generous fellow taxidermists, both local and across the globe, heard about me and donated some specimens and tools for
me to practice with. They introduced me to the world of modern taxidermy, and I mounted my first deer head. A small doe,
which in the end was a far cry from a quality taxidermy piece, but it was a proud accomplishment for me.

In 2002, at the age of 15, I attended my first taxidermy competition. My dad and I traveled all the way to Columbia, MO to
attend the National Taxidermy Competition! I put together my first ever competition piece, a small red squirrel sleeping on a
bed of fall leaves. I meticulously wrapped the body out of wire and cotton, using the real skull for the head. Although I was
young to enter the children's division, I wanted to learn all I could, so I entered in the open division. My squirrel ended up
earning a third place ribbon, which I was thrilled with! The next month, I took it to my state show and won Best of Category
in the amateur division and "Best Furbearer" award. I was hooked!

Over the next year, my taxidermy "hobby" grew into a small business for me.  I mounted several deer heads for friends and
customers, and with each one, I could see great improvement. A friend of mine who had connections with a zoo in Georgia
donated two tiny baby tigers to me (a one week old and a three week old). I mounted the larger of the two and took it to the
World Taxidermy championships in Springfield, IL and took a 3rd place ribbon in the open division. I also continued working
on the very small critters, like rats and mice. Not only because they were readily available, but because I truly enjoyed the tiny
details of working with them. After having gone to the World show and the '02 Nationals, I couldn't wait to go again and I
hitched a ride with a local taxidermist to visit the 2003 Nationals in Lousville, KY. I took several mounts to that show, one of
them being a tiny field mouse on a piece of driftwood. The other taxidermist joked with me on the ride; "You never know,
maybe that's the next National Champion mouse!".

As it turns out, he was right. In a taxidermy competition, it's not all about size. Sure, a large mount can impress, and tends to
win the popular vote. But when it comes down to the actual score, all creatures great and small are scored on a scoresheet that
is focused on anatomical accuracy. My knowledge of rodents (having raised them for years) and my experience with mounting
them ended up being rewarded with a mouse that scored a 93 - A blue ribbon, and the National Championship title for the
highest scoring piece in the mammal category!

I continued competing over the next couple years, as well as doing more and more customer work. My dad, always in support
of me, built me a small taxidermy shop so I could more comfortably do my work. I was doing around 25-30 pieces a year,
while still working towards graduating high school. I was home schooled, and I credit that for giving me the additional time I
needed to be able to persue taxidermy the way I did. The time I saved being able to get up early and get all my school work
done by noon left me plenty of time to work afterwards. At 17, I met a young cowboy named Robby Carter, who stole my
heart. He was the typical county boy who loved guns and hunting - our first "date" was going to a gun show! He began going
to taxidermy shows with me, and he helped me out with building some of the habitat bases for my mounts.
I hope you will consider me when choosing the taxidermist for your next special
mount. I treat every animal I work on as a custom piece of art. If there is a special
pose or need, I can alter existing forms or even custom make it from scratch if
necessary. Many of my competition pieces have been built from hand carved or
custom cast forms, so I have the knowledge needed to apply this to my everyday
work if needed. I may not be as cheap as some, but you can be assured that the
quality you will receive will be noticeable both immediately and long-term. I tan all
my hides, from squirrel to elk - no dry preservative used here! This assures that the
very core of your mount is a preserved leather - NOT a piece of rawhide! Does
this take longer - and cost more - than inferior methods? Yes indeed, but the results
are well worth it. I promise to use the best quality materials - competition Tohickon
glass eyes, and the best hide glue on the market, so as to capture every detail of the
muscles and anatomy.

I may be proud of the ribbons that line the walls of my shop, but the real proof is
the satisfied customers that return year after year. I am thankful to have such a
loyal customer base and look forward to the others I will meet in the future.
After graduating, at the age of 18 I left my current shop in Midland,
NC and moved to Statesville to be closer to Robby. I operated out
of a modified horse barn for a while, but my local customers
continued to come to me even though I didn't have a good shop
setup that year. After purchasing a home and getting married in
2006, I had a new shop built that was conveniently located right at
my home.

Over the next few years, my business thrived. 2010 marked a year
of many changes for me, when my life shifted from full time
taxidermist to full time mom. My daughter, Lily, was born in April
2010. It was a big adjustment for me, and luckily I was able to be a
stay at home mom and still get a little taxidermy done. My
customers understood, and I only took in a limited amount of work
that year.  Then I started all over again in July 2012 when my son,
Levi, was born. From 2010-2014 I worked part time, doing as
much customer work as I could while still being a devoted mom.

As my kids got older, I was able to focus more on some competition
pieces once again. Having taken a break from competition for a few
years, I was nervous to get back in the competition taxidermy scene
but I was able to make an excellent comeback by adding several
honorable awards to my collection such as the Breakthrough Best of
Show award in South Carolina (2014), Big Rock Taxidermy
Championships "Grand Champion" (2015) and my first ever
placement in the Master's Division at the 2015 World
Championships, a second place in the small lifesize division.

In 2015, my daughter started kindergarten and my son was enrolled
full time at a child development center and I was .. back to work
full time! I moved from Statesville to Olin in June of 2015 and that's
where I work now. My shop is small, but I have hopeful plans to
build a large, permanent shop in the future.