Skinning heads

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Skinning heads

Postby tam9492 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 11:34 am

Do you guys skin the whole way up the neck and over the head to the bill, or do you start at the bill and work back towards the neck? In the Savides video I have, he starts at the bill and makes an incision from the bill up over the eye, and then skins back towards the neck. Just wondering if this is how everyone does it? Can you work the whole way up the neck and over the bill? This seems like it would eliminate having to sew up the incision you made if doing it starting at the bill.
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby Camocynergy » Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:05 pm

In almost all the vids I've seen they just work up from the neck.
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby Pete-pec » Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:08 pm

tam, I am going to give you the single most greatest piece of information that any newbie can get from one single page on the internet. This is not my information, but I have even read some of it. This information is so awesome, that someone took the time to share their wealth of information along with photos during their tutorials. You can thank me for the link, but the credit goes to some other special people.

To answer your question about skinning heads, just remember that there are several methods when doing both artificial and real heads. Learn very method you can, try every method you can, because you will take bits and pieces from everything you learn, and twist it and mesh it, and certainly do what works best for you. I can tell you I cut around the bill and work it backwards, and I love it. I will however NEVER EVER tell you this is the standard even if it might be the most popular method. I can use the real skull without removing it from the skin. I can use the real skull, and remove it and rebuild it like I was using an artificial. I can remove it, and replace it with an artificial. None of what I do is like any other person. I'm willing to bet that those same people who perform a certain method do it exactly like someone else. Why, because they learned what works best for them. Just like the bird you will work on, we are all wired a bit different.

Anyway, my point is, absorb everything you can, and work it out. Never stop learning, never accept good enough unless you're done with a mount. Good enough only applies when you learn what wasn't good enough on your last mount, and try to fix it your next. I recently mounted a bird that I was proud of. Flawless? No! I was still happy with it, and it still isn't good enough, and that's a good thing if I ever want to get to that next level? I hope that even the best "Masters" in the World still want to reach for new heights!

Here is the link. This is found on taxidermy.net, under tutorials, under lists of tutorials. The bid section has some great people there who share. They are less apt to answer those newbie questions that we will, but they have a vast wealth of information to share, and there are some of the finest taxidermists in the World. Yes, I said World. Many European people display their work, and it's refreshing to see raptors as well as birds from other places mounted for display. Just don't trade this place for that one, because we enjoy the company! This applies for all newbies please.

http://www.taxidermy.net/forum/index.ph ... 693.0.html
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby tam9492 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:19 pm

Thanks Pete! I spend some time over there, but it's a much better structured over here! Typically, I just go there if I need some quick info.
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby Pete-pec » Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:30 pm

Better question, is did you find your answer? I would learn to skin around the bill. It's easy once you get past the scare of it all. The only tricky spot (at first) is the eye. I cut around the bill, starting at the top notch then the bottom of the bill cutting my "V's" then around the side and then the cheek. Take the back of your scalpel, and push the skin towards the eye, get a large pair of tweezers (if you need them) and start cutting the skin free until you pass the forehead of the bird. You are now home free. Just use your blade to cut towards the skull, and not the skin, pulling the skin towards the ear hole. There are two places you will need to detach the skin. One is on the back of the eye )rearward), and the other is the ear hole. You get to the back of the skull, and you can pull your cut neck through this skin. Fleshing is way easier this method, but again, not the only method.
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby tam9492 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:22 pm

So there is no actual extra incision needed to get the skin back over the head? It will stretch enough to fit over the skull? I do understand about detaching at the rear of the eye and the ear hole. If this is the case, I think I will like this method.
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby Pete-pec » Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:34 pm

There are some birds that are a little tougher than others, but as long as it is a mature full feathered bird, yes, it will invert. There are birds that will invert the opposite way as well, meaning they will invert through the neck hole. I used to do it this way when I had such a species, but it is nearly as easy the way I told you. Any merganser, almost every sea duck, ruddy duck, wood duck, and most upland birds will invert through their neck to name a few. You must go slow on a few of those though.
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby tam9492 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:45 pm

ok! Thanks for the info! I'll give it a try!
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby Pete-pec » Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:52 pm

Good luck, and post pictures.
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby tam9492 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:11 pm

I've been doing some searching and can't seem to find the answer. What gauge is good for the support wire on a flying puddler or diver? 8,9?
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby tam9492 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:23 pm

I found size 10 in a previous post.
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby Pete-pec » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:11 pm

I always use 9 for everything up to an eider, and as small as a teal. I like the idea of having a strong support to allow less wiggling, and allows me to move the bird in any position and will still have the strength to hold it. Take a smaller wire and bend it just once, and you will have a weak spot that will want to bend in that same spot.

I also have a method for supporting it in the driftwood as well as the form that works well for me. I pre-tap the wire through my mannikin, bend the "hook" that goes into the mannikin, and hammer it into the form before doing anything else. Once I have this recessed into the form, and I have my tapped hole for the long wire, as well as my tapped hole for the "hook" end, as well as the channel the hook sits in, I pull it out until later. I like to run my support wire in the tail section of the bird, and depending on what the bird will be doing, I will have it either exit at the anus (diving bird), or the back of the mannikin (landing bird) or the belly of the bird (back exposed or flying bird). I also drilled a hole through my work bench to allow me to have this wire in the mannikin while I sew up the incision. This is when I have it going through the belly of the bird, so the wire has a place to sit while I sew. The side of back has a wire that will hang off to the side (no problem), or straight at you. Just take your time when stitching with this poking straight toward your face.

Now I prep my driftwood. I use good Texas flat-backed cedar driftwood bought from any taxidermy supply company. I use a cheap hanger for the back. Mine have two holes for the screws to tap into the cedar, and an eyelet that holds the driftwood to the wall. I take a pencil, and mark the two screw holes onto the driftwood, as well as the hole where the eyelet sits. I take a flat wood bit in the one inch size, and drill each screw hole deep enough into the back of the driftwood to allow me to tap my screws into the hanger, as well as have the screws recessed deep enough so they are not going to touch the wall. The eyelet hole gets tapped even deeper to allow you to hang it on the wall, and still let you have enough depth to push the eyelet onto the nail (on the wall) that holds the driftwood.

I drill a hole the exact same size as my 6 gauge wire, and then a channel gets carved into the driftwood with my electric wood carver to allow me to bend the wire, cut the end, and allow me a recessed channel to support my wire, and deep enough so my flat-backed driftwood remains just that. Flat! No wobble and total support. The only other thing I add, is a couple "U" shaped fencing nails that I slightly pre-drill and then hammer them into the channel, across the wire, and it will go no where!

Now when it comes to that support wire in your mannikin, don't run the hook through the skin. Run it under the skin, and pierce just one hole through the opposite side, and the side that obviously faces the wall. Trust me, you will screw this up. I still do it wrong on occasions, but I try to think just a wee bit slower when doing this now lol. You might see why the rear of the bird makes more sense now? You have more skin sagging to deal with in this spot, because you do it after you run your wing wires, and at the same time you run your leg wires. Once I run this wire through the mannikin, and pierce the skin on the opposite side, I then glue the channel, and the hook hole, as well as the hole that runs through the mannikin. Not too much, but enough to aid in the support. You don't want it to poke out of this spot, you want it set. I sprinkle borax over the glue, and allow a few minutes for it to set, before stitching up the incision. Another advantage of having the wire rearward, is it will not conflict with the wing.

I will take a quick photo of the back of one of my driftwood pieces to give you an idea of what I'm describing.

Damn, that was a long winded super detailed tutorial if I must say so myself. Again, this is not the only way, but it is effective, and after a couple times, you can do it in five to ten minutes. I prep five or six pieces at a time, that way I use the tools and drills in an order. I will always center the hole, and the hanger in the center. This offers the best balance point. If I was doing two birds on one piece, I would still have my hanger in the center, and the holes set as equal as possible off to the sides.
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby tam9492 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:20 pm

Awesome :thumbsup: That'll help a lot!
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby Pete-pec » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:26 pm

Read it a few times, and you will understand what I do. I modified a few things I missed, but the picture tells most of the story. If you see anyone else use this method, I will be shocked. I created this one, and I still bet other people use their own version that is similar. I know if they don't, their mount probably wobbles.

Hopefully one of these veterans uses it after seeing it.
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby tam9492 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:46 pm

How do you ensure your wire exits in the right place before the skin is sewed up, since the skin will shift as you sew?
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby Pete-pec » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:34 pm

That's a good question. I use the leg as a reference. The leg should be on the mannikin where it belongs. That won't change. So if your wire is two inches from your leg, it should exit on the mannikin where that leg will line up. This should only matter when using a side wire. The wire exiting out the belly, is simply on the incision where you will sew, and the wire exiting the back of the bird will line up easy as your bird's wings are already wired, so things should line up if your mannikin is correctly sized. This method certainly beats running a wire on the outside of the skin, or cutting a hole to try and cover it. Again, this is my method. I like it, and you may not? I can assure you who's will look cleaner though?
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby tam9492 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:45 pm

Ok, that make's sense :thumbsup:
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby Edge pro staff_Austin » Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:05 pm

Around the bill is ny favorite its cleaner and looks better!
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby tam9492 » Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:06 am

Did a woodie head like this last night. It was probably the only part that went smoothly on the bird :hammer: Which brings up another question. The bird had a shot hole through the 'ankle' of the leg and the leg bone was shattered. I understand how to repair/remake the shattered bone, but how could I have fixed the foot?
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby Pete-pec » Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:22 am

Yea, that can be tough. The skin will leak when you go to inject it, so you must inject above and below the hole. I use two part epoxie sculpt after it has dried. You may have to fill in more than just the hole. If the plumpness isn't there due to the leak, you may have to rebuild more of the foot. Easiest way to fix, would be to replace the foot entirely.
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby tam9492 » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:47 pm

That's what i figured. It was in pretty bad shape. It was also pretty difficult to skin around the joint that connects the humerus to the radius and ulna. Incredibly thin there. I take it that is normal with a woodie?
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby Pete-pec » Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:40 pm

The wing is nothing no matter the species. You will learn the knack for it, and will be able to turn any wing in thirty seconds. This can be done without a knife. Use your opposite hand to pull, and your thumb to push the feather butts off the bone. Real simple task really!
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby Pete-pec » Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:54 am

Tam, I edited my post about which wire gauge I use for supporting a bird. I use 9, NOT 6! I checked today as I was prepping a mount, and I was significantly wrong on that wire size.
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Re: Skinning heads

Postby tam9492 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:27 pm

I thought 6 sounded very stout!
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