What I have done today.

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What I have done today.

Postby openwaterhunter2 » Thu Jan 19, 2006 3:51 pm

Image

Image

I still have work to do on them but it's a start. My first and second mounts ever.
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Postby Pete-pec » Thu Jan 19, 2006 4:35 pm

When a bird flies, it's head is always lateral. It will be on a straight plain, with it's eyes typically to the side (prey eyes) they see things from the side of their head. So I would lift the bird so it's body was more lateral than vertical. If you notice almost every bird neck has an "s" curve to it no matter how slight of a curve, it is usually in that shape. The sitting duck needs it's wings tucked into it's wing pockets. This can be accomplished easier if you cut slits in the wing pockets, and then you lift these over the wings when they are in the tucked and relaxed position. Then you will bring the scapula feathers over the top of the wings when they are pinned into place. You will find the spot when you bend the wing enough at the "elbow" and the wing tips will lay on the back and not exceed the length of the birds tail. I hope this helps. I'm heading out, and won't be back til later on tonight, but start searching some photos of a relaxed bird, and you can see that the wings are rather hidden when they are sitting. Look up www.aviaryarts.com as a search. Brian has some photos of live ducks in the perticular position that you are probably going for. Lift his breast up, or else he looks as if he's falling over. Listen to me Danny, I'm not knocking your work, and it takes guts to display your first birds, I'm giving you some good advise to remedy a few things. It's not easy to make a bird look alive, and with each bird they will get better and better. Studying the anatomy of the bird is the best thing you can do when first starting out. When I get home this evening, I'll see if you have some other questions.

I still have some of my first birds, but I only keep them around to see how far I have come. I swore to myself that I wasn't going to post until I get my collection done. I am far from complete, and have a wife, family, a job, and my play-time that hinders me from completing that goal. Keep up the good work, and will see after a few birds, how far you have come! :thumbsup: -Pete
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Postby openwaterhunter2 » Thu Jan 19, 2006 7:54 pm

Pete. By no means would I take any critisim (spelling) the wrong way. I know for a FACT that you ain't bashing my ducks. You have helped me more than ANYONE and I soak in what you have to say. I knew when I finished with the GH that it was wrong. My problem is I put wires in it's wings thinking I was going to do something else but I couldn't figure out how to do it. A duck taking off. I can't get the wings to bend enough to get them in there. I left the neck stretched because I am going to mount the hen standing on a log and have him walking to her. The reason it looks top heavy is because the wires are in a 1/4 in plywood. In thick wood it stands up better.

The bills neck keeps twisting around on me. I get it vertical to the floor and walk away from it and it goes to where you see it now. The wings are alittle forward and the not identical so I have to work on that. Of the two I think the bill will look the best when I get it right.

I am proud of my first two ducks and am in no way ashamed of them. It's not easy by no means. I know they aren't anatomicly correct in alot of ways but I am proud to get to THIS point. I know alot of people that wouldn't have made it this far.

Pete thanks for your help and coments. I am glad that you WILL tell me when they don't look right instead of just saying "them look good" or "that's crap". I will post the final pictures once they get painted up and dried completely like they are surposed to.
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Postby Pete-pec » Fri Jan 20, 2006 12:33 am

I'm glad you can take critisism, because your way ahead of the crowd if you can, (and to be perfectly honest with you, I don't take it very well.) If you remain open-minded enough to actually learn from each piece, you will eventually be your worst critic, therefore, before you ever show a piece to someone, you'll know first-hand what every flaw is. Well before the novice, who looks at the bird as beautiful to begin with, with all the "pretty colors" and all. There's a thing referred to as "the ten foot rule," and the average (non invoved in taxidermy) person will think almost any piece will look O.K. at that distance, and don't let your family critique your work, (they typically won't be hard enough on you) unless it's your little sister or brother! :yes:

To make things easier, start with the typical banking bird; wings spread against the wall with the correct "Z" shape in the wings. Now we're talking anatomy. Next time you skin a bird, pay close attention to the way the wing bones and musclular structure are shaped. You know when I said a ducks neck is "S" shaped, well the wing is "Z" shaped as well. These are some starting tips to pay attention to that will make your stuff come around that much sooner. Make sure the eyes are dead even across from one another.

Did you have reference pictures to use as aids? If you didn't, you should for your next. They are absolutely great tools to have while taxi-ing.
Let me know if I can help.

-Pete
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Postby openwaterhunter2 » Fri Jan 20, 2006 8:57 am

Pete I didn't have any photos but I do now. I went to wally world and bought every book, magazine and picture I could get that had a duck on it. I also raided my old magazines and book collection and now have them stacked up on my work bench. Thanks for the help. Danny
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Postby Pete-pec » Fri Jan 20, 2006 9:39 am

Subscribe to Ducks Unlimited if you already haven't. There are some awesome reference pictures in the magazine that they provide. It helps to have many pictures of each perticular species of duck. Of course DU tends to take alot of photos of the "old stand-by" the Mallard, and hones in on the Sprig and Canvasback, but catching a bird in an action shot is what those photagraphers do best. I've used photos of other species to help me postion another perticular bird. Get yourself some Blue Painter's tape, and some plastic wrap to help you keep the feathers in place. Once you have positioned them, wrap and tape and allow them to dry. The tape removes very easily, and doesn't leave a residual glue behind.

-Pete
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Postby openwaterhunter2 » Fri Jan 20, 2006 11:00 am

Pete I am a member of DU. There is one picture in the month before lasts mag that I really like of a mallard. It's flying threw the snow. It's awesome. One day....... maybe. I am having trouble selecting the right size and color eyes for each bird. Do you know of a good book for that information. Also I have the bill painting books for divers and puddlers but I thought it had the feet as well. They know what color they should be but when I go to a color chart I am dumbfounded. What about feet color books? I redone the mallard and worked the wings and head over on the bill. The bill looks alot better now. I pinned it's neck and put poster board on it's wings to make them stay. I like it's look better now but ain't sure if it's totally correct.

Danny
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Postby Pete-pec » Fri Jan 20, 2006 12:12 pm

Danny,

Breakthrough Magazine has awesome reference pictures. They don't always have a ton of birds, but if you subscribe to that magazine, you'll learn alot of techniques from the "Masters" themselves. if you ever need a reference picture, go to taxidermy.net, hit the orange search button, and use that resource first and foremost, then after doing a thorough search, and still can't find the reference you're looking for, just post up on there that you are interested in a perticular species and photo reference. You won't get assistance every time, but most of the time, someone is willing to lend a hand. They actually have an area that has free references available on their site. You also have a digital camera, and if you plan on mounting a bird, take some detailed photos of the bird as it was freshly killed, and maybe some day you can lend a hand to someone else.

As far as the eye chart goes, order a McKenzie Taxidermy Supp;y catalog; 1-800-279-7985 Start an account with them, and tell them you need a catalog. There are suggested eye charts in there. Or email; taxidermy@mckenziesp.com The foot book, I really don't have one of my own. I usually just do a search til I find what I'm looking for. You can also go to the better taxidermist's websites and learn alot from the pro's. I have the luxury of living five minutes from Dan Rinehart's Taxidermy School and Supply, and 15 minutes from John (Dan's Father) Rinehart's (which is owned by McKenzie), so I can visit both at any time, and hand pick if needed. Right now Tony Finazzo is teaching a bird class at Dan's place, and will answer any question a person would have. Just as long as you're buying his bird heads and forms. LOL! It is really nice not paying for shipping cost!

-Pete
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Postby openwaterhunter2 » Fri Jan 20, 2006 4:53 pm

Pete McKenzie is who I order threw. I asked for a catalog a while back and haven't got it yet. I asked for another one today.

I am alittle pissed off right now. I had 4 buffleheads I was working on. I skinned fleshed and dried two (1 hen and a drake) yesterday so that when my forms get here I can get started on them. Today I started on the last two. I skinned and flesh and dried the first one and stuck it in the freezer. I took a break and piddled around because I had the biggest, prettiest, and easiest to skin drake left. I took my time skinned it without putting a single hole in it. I fleshed it very carefully until it was perfect. I was proud of my fleshing job. I got my two tubs ready 1 soaped and 1 to rinse in. I washed it, sloshing it with my hands carefully and then stuck it in the rinse tub. Doing it gently so not to break a feather. I then picked it up and stuck it in the soap again when I noticed there was black feathers in the rinse bucket. When I got it out I about (*&)*( my pants. The damn head fell off. I almost got sick to my stomach. I ended up throwing it out. All that work and care only to have it just fall off. I don't know what happened. It wasn't burned threw or nothing there. Well looks like I will just have a 3 piece for a while now.
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Postby Pete-pec » Fri Jan 20, 2006 5:46 pm

Danny,

First off, I would suggest washing your skins and freezing them wet, I personally have never washed and dried my skins unless I was going to Taxi it to the form. Make the drying step part of your mounting step, and only dry the bird when ready to mount. You can also skin a bird and freeze it to be fleshed at a different time, you can also flesh and/or wash the bird then freeze it, but I would think that the bird needs to be hydrated or at least rehydrated to relax the skin. Therefore you might want to wait to wash and dry it til you're ready to mount. On the other hand I have never done it that way so I have no real evidence to say that it is impossible to taxi a previously dried skin. My only question would it be, is the skin relaxed enough to move and manipulate it freely?

If you don't want to spend the money on an artificial head, then I suggest using the same inscision around the bill, and rebuilding the head with apoxie. The skin is much easier to flesh and wash thoroughly with the head removed from the skin. The bird will improve on so many levels, that you can't afford not to use the artificial head. I've done quite a few birds using the ear-cut relief method, and the original rebuilt with clay head, they don't look horrible, but I will always use the bill inscision from here on out. However I will use the original head if I can invert it through the neck backwards. ie; Merganser or Ruddy Duck.

That surprises me that the head popped off, I had a hen Wigeon do that to me. It was my third bird ever, and I was hanging my bird on a meat hook and chain, and pulled a little too hard on the skin, and ripped her pretty little head off. That's when I learned that you don't need to sew all the time. I used caulk and some pins, and she didn't turn out too bad for a complete novice. I still have her to this day. I've turned more than one mount into a decoy, just not that one. LOL! Sounds like you can turn that mount into a four-piece next year, with another Buffie.

-Pete
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Postby openwaterhunter2 » Sat Jan 21, 2006 2:47 pm

Pete I didn't dry em dry em. lol I just dried the feathers. The hide is still plyable. On the head falling off .....I did the bill cut and was going to rebuild the skull. It was nothing but the skin. Oh well. Try and try again.
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Postby Pete-pec » Sat Jan 21, 2006 5:17 pm

Danny,

Was that a fully plumed Bufflehead? They have a pretty tough skin normally, and can take quite a bit of abuse. That is strange.

-Pete
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Postby openwaterhunter2 » Sun Jan 22, 2006 8:33 pm

Pete it was a beautiful fully plummed bird. Big bird at that. I know they can take a beating. I put the first one threw it when it got wrapped up in the wire wheel and I couldn't get it stopped. :oops:
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Postby openwaterhunter2 » Tue Jan 24, 2006 8:04 pm

I took my first look at my blue bill today from a finished prospective and am NOT satisfied with my work. I didn't pay enough attention to small details. At 10 foot it looks pretty good but up close it looks shabby.


Painting the bills ain't an easy feat either. It might be if I had a better air bush but to learn with I believe I can handle this one.

Thanks for the help.

Danny
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Postby Pete-pec » Tue Jan 24, 2006 10:02 pm

Danny,

Don't expect the Mona Lisa on your first few birds, just remember to learn from every piece you complete. I remember stressing out when I would mount up a bird, and at times, I still do, but with each one under my belt, I got just a litte bit better on nearly every bird. Write down what you've figured out, and take notes every time you figure a new or improved way to complete your project. Take good measurements. Have plenty of reference materials at the time of taxi-ing. Make sure you have all your tools needed when you start. Lay all your tools and materials out as you'll need them, and most of all, Keep it fun. If you are stressing on a perticular part of the bird, walk away for a few minutes, and return to what you set out to do. If you really want to learn the art of taxidermy, go out and find a reputable taxidermist in your area, who is willing to train, and fork out the money. Or you can try to do work for a taxidermist in return for some hands-on training. I was taught how to do 1 single bird by a friend, and wasn't shown with great detail. Well, I took the big leap, and did my second bird completely alone. You know what? It was alot easier doing it by myself. Sure I had questions, but I figured them out. I eventually learned some techniques that I ended up showing my original teacher. I eventually started doing the grunt work for him, and ended up doing all of his skinning and fleshing. That's when I started to learn anatomy, and learned what a good bird is and what a bad bird is. It's very difficult to make an inferior bird look good when it didn't start out good. An early season bird, a hard hit bird, a hard- mouthed retrieve by the dog, etc. These are just some of the things that can hinder a quality mount. That is the most critical factor in ending up with a good mount, is the quality of the bird to begin with. I dread the September Wood duck, but I love the January Goldeneye. Those two birds are definately on opposite ends of the spectrum! So to sum it up, yes, you will look at your first birds and maybe shake your head a bit, but don't throw them away just yet. Keep them around as little reminders as to how far you have gotten. Besides a few that I turned into decoys, I still have my originals. Yes, even my first two birds!

-Pete
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Postby openwaterhunter2 » Wed Jan 25, 2006 2:19 pm

Pete Thanks for the pep talk. I am satisfied with my piece but not impressed. I know starting out is more about learning than anything. My problem is in my head I know what it should look like more or less but I don't know how to make it look like that. Time and plenty of birds will help me.

On another note. When I spray my fake heads the paint doesn't seem to want to stick in one spot. I cleaned the head with mineral spirits and let it dry. I held back with my gun and misted it on. When I got done all the sudden the paint started to seperate. It's hard to explain exactly what I am seeing. Do you have any advise or idea what could be happening.

Thanks Danny
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Postby Pete-pec » Wed Jan 25, 2006 3:18 pm

Danny,

Use Isoproply alcohol, or acetone to wipe the bad spot away. The mineral spirits may actually be oil based, and you may be defeating the purpose when trying to apply paint to the bill. I'm not exactly sure what the process to making an artificial head is, but I would have to believe their must be some kind of spray-release applied to the cast/mold, (probably a silicone or oil based spray if I had to guess) to assist in the ability to pull the mold from the cast.

-Pete
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Postby openwaterhunter2 » Wed Jan 25, 2006 4:01 pm

Pete I have a couple more questions. When you have a beek that is attached to the hide how do you paint it without getting paint on the feathers. I have painters tape and tried to put it on and then cut only around the beek but that was almost impossible. I am useing the hydro myst paint and it's water based. If I do get alittle over spray on the feathers can I wipe it off with a wet rag. I figured out the problem with the heads and just used a oil based primer.
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Postby Pete-pec » Wed Jan 25, 2006 4:08 pm

Danny,

Yes, that is what you need to do, is take your blue painters' tape and cut it to shape. Instead of trying to cut it when the tape is attached near the bill, try cutting it to shape with a pair of scissors. This isn't a race, so take your time, and do it right. If you get overspray, I'd suggest using mineral spirits on the feathers, and avoid getting it on the bill.

-Pete
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Postby openwaterhunter2 » Wed Jan 25, 2006 5:39 pm

Well here it is. I can take critizsim so let me have it. I know some screw ups. Most off the wings are alittle forward and my first bill paint job SUCKS. The head went back on me alittle to much and it's not as horizontal ( I can't spell today) as it should be. My air brush is a POS and soon as I get some money I am going to invest in a better one. I am going for the 10 foot rule. :tounge: no close ups sorry.

Image

Image
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Postby Pete-pec » Wed Jan 25, 2006 6:04 pm

Danny,

The most important thing is starting with a nicely plumed bird, and yours' could use a bit more of time to grow those nice feathers that sets one bird apart from the rest. I would have to say it is pretty darn close to what my first duck looked like, and I had a bit of hands on help. You didn't! Remember to use pins and set the scapula a bit closer to the middle of the shoulders. Your head looks fine. You will be just fine. Keep up the good work. Look up a few pictures on the internet, and look where the feet actually sit, and get away from flattening the birds against the wall, that is a common thing for newbies to do. Now thatyour bird is dry, twist that body or twist that neck til it is lateral. I'm not slamming here, To be quite honest with you your bird is pretty good for your first!

-Pete
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Postby openwaterhunter2 » Wed Jan 25, 2006 7:15 pm

Thanks pete. What do you mean by putting em flat on the wall? I have more questions but I will start a new thread for those since it's not exactly about this one. Thanks again for the help pete.
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Postby Pete-pec » Wed Jan 25, 2006 8:01 pm

Danny,

You can add quite a bit more dimension if you turn your body more upright to a more lateral position. When you look at a diver, they quite often have their wings cocked in the "Z" that I was referring to in an earlier reply. Go to Shan Smith's Website, and look at his birds in their flying pose. They don't always fly with their wings cocked, but more often than not they do have some sort of bend in them. The Banking bird with their wings completely splayed, is hard to make look correct.
www.waterfowltaxidermy.com

-Pete
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