About the artist...
I'm Amy Ritchie-Carter, owner-operator of Amy's Animal Art, located in Olin,
North Carolina, just north of Statesville.

At the age of 30, many are surprised that find that I have been involved in
taxidermy for over 17 years, but I got an early start. My interest began as a
hobby at age 13, when I began 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), a 2nd place in the
Master's Division at the 2015 World Championships, and
Breakthrough Best of Show in West Virginia (2016)

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 plans to build a
1200 square foot permanent shop in the future.