By W. Derek Russell
In the summer of 2012, Todd Goss decided he wanted a mounted deer head for his newly renovated porch.
The only trouble was, he didn’t want a real deer head.
His conundrum led him to get creative.
“I’d seen ones made out of cardboard and thought I could make one out of wire the same way,” Goss, 49, said. “I took it to a friend of mine’s store in Greenwood and she loved them. I haven’t stopped making them since.”
Goss’ wire sculptures have caught on like wildfire in the past five years, prompting him to build anything from bulldogs to ducks and selling them through his Etsy store, A Head of the Game – a “faux taxidermy shop.”
“A friend at work recommended doing that,” he said. “I didn’t think anyone would buy anything. I put a few pieces on there and it started going crazy.”
The amount of wire varies from piece to piece, Goss said. The deer head sculptures take around 35-feet of galvanized wire to complete. His original deer sculpture in 2012 took four or five hours to figure out. Now, he can do them in under 45 minutes through muscle memory.
“I did a rhino, a giraffe and an elephant, trying to do all the animals I could think of next,” he said. “My girls wanted a bulldog. Then I started making rebels.”
The Etsy shop eventually led to storefronts finding out about Goss, and wanting his items in stock.
“They found me through there,” he said. “It’s been great. I had more, but I couldn’t support so many. It takes a lot to make these.”
Currently three physical stores sell Goss’ pieces: In Greenwood at Mississippi Gift Company and in Madison at Sugar Magnolias. In Covington, Louisiana his items are available at Simply Southern.
In addition to his established pieces, Goss also does custom orders through the stores and his Etsy account.
“The great thing about the stores is that they all want something a little bit different or something I haven’t thought about,” he said.
Items online run anywhere from $12 ornaments to $100 for larger, more intricate mounted pieces.
Goss said that crafting the sculptures unwinds him after a long day at work.
“It’s therapeutic for me. It’s nice to get home and play with the wire. I can do it in front of the TV with the kids when we’re all together. They think it’s pretty cool. They probably get tired of it sometimes,” he said, laughing.
Growing up drawing and sculpting with clay, Goss called himself “crafty” but said that these sculptures took his creativity to a new level. Other than the wiring and wooden mounts, the only tools he uses are pliers, his fingers and his imagination.
“I don’t even have to think about it anymore when I’m making them. I just do it and I love it. I love the thought of them being all over the world. It’s cool to think about it, he said.”