TAXIDERMIST Nicola Hebson is used to turning dead animals into striking works of art.

But when she had the idea of turning a dead rat into a fashion purse, she had no idea that it would bring her fans from the other side of the Atlantic.

The piece has become the Great Harwood artist’s most valuable piece to date after a New York city ‘fashionista’ contacted her and agreed to buy the purse for £345.

Nicola, who is a strict vegan and only ever uses animals that are ‘road kill’ or have died naturally, said the ‘rat purse’ was the first she had made and admitted she will be sad to say goodbye to her inventive creation.

She said: “I didn’t really want to sell it.

“It’s the only rat purse I’ve ever made and my ethos is that if you don’t want to sell it then just put it for a high price.

“I didn’t think anyone would pay that much but I guess a high price makes people want to buy it more as they see it has a sentimental value.”

Self-taught taxiderm-ist Nicola has attracted national media attent-ion with her delicate anthropomorphic ani-mal creations that are often depicted in humorous or real life situations. She has appeared on This Morning and a history channel programme, ‘No Country For Old Men’ and national print coverage.

In November last year, Nicola began teaching taxidermy workshops with the backing of the Blackburn is Open team. They prove so successful they have returned to Blackburn Museum this month.

Nicola is opening her own shop, in conjunc-tion with Blackburn is Open, in King William Street later in the year.