Sewing the head, carding , and caulking

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Sewing the head, carding , and caulking

Postby duxrus » Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:05 pm

Here is the way I sew the head/neck incision closed while using part of the real skull. I always start the cut at the back of the skull and run it down the top of the neck about 2”. I slowly skin the head and inverting it all the way to the bill. Since I had already skinned this bird on another day I couldn’t take pictures of that but if anyone has questions I can dig some pics up for you.
When sewing it closed I start while the head is still inverted and go about half closed before re-inverting. This helps with the thread not tangling with feathers or getting caught on existing bone.
NOTE: I am only able to start this way because I only use the top half of the skull

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Now that I was about half way done I re-invert the head and finish sewing it closed
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Here you can see that I do NOT pull the stitch tight. If you do you will have issues with the feathers getting bound up and will never get a flat final appearance.

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Since it is extremely difficult to get the neck dry on the inside I always use my air compressor to blow air into the head and neck before going any further. Moisture will find it’s way to the cut and wet feathers are no fun to deal with later, even after tumbling. If you skip this odds are the seam will be wet and cause issues later
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This is a skin after I have dried and tumbled it. As you can see the feathers lay nice and flat along the back of the head and neck.

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Here is the same skin after the necking material has been inserted. You can see it is still nice and smooth. Note: This is before I taxi everything into place

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This is by no means the only way to do this but it works for me. I hope this helps some of you.

Next I will post pictures of how I tape and card the wings on a flying bird
Last edited by duxrus on Wed Feb 26, 2014 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sewing the head incision closed and carding wings

Postby The Waterfowler » Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:37 pm

Nice Brian. Good point on not over-tightening the seem when sewed. Pinch points can occur. Also everyone take note that it's sewn inside out to allow the feathers to line up better. Like a surgeon, a taxidermist wants to as much work on the inside as to not compromise the outside. Nice paint job too BTW.
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Re: Sewing the head incision closed and carding wings

Postby duxrus » Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:45 pm

I know there are a millions ways to card wings and tails so here is the way I like to do it. If you have other methods please feel free to post pictures or explain what works for you.

First I use clothes pins to secure each wing open. You will see I run the wing wire out through the bottom of the wing and let it extend out past the tips of the primaries. I use painter’s tape to get the secondaries to stay uniform and flat. Just run a piece under the tips of them starting at the last primary and then running it all the way to the last secondary. This only takes seconds to overlay them as you want.
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As for “carding” I use two cut pieces of posterboard and pin them underneath each wing and use the clothespin as an attachment point. The clothespin allows you to slide the PB as needed for more curvature to the wing.
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After adjusting the “arc” shape I want with each wing I then use another piece of tape to flare out the primaries as needed for each specific pose. This is where the wing wire comes in very handy.
This is a before…
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This is the after…
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After I have everything in place with each wing, I “card” the shoulder areas to keep everything nice and rounded or flat where needed. On a lot of birds you can see the top edge of the wing with feathers that dries uneven and not smooth. This solves that problem. Make sure not to sinch them totally flat by leaving about an 1/8” of space between the CB and wing. The cotton helps in not crushing the feathers too flat.
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Now for the tail. Basicly it is the same as the secondaries. I just use strips of Painter’s tape to secure them where I want.
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After it dries for about two weeks or until the caulk I used is hard, I just peel the tape off and everything will stay exactly where I put it. Just remember to fold a tab on one end of each piece of tape for easy removal.

I have seen methods where there are no wing wires extending outside of the skin but you can see why I extend mine. As far as tape I use the cheap Painter’s grade tape with medium adhesion. I have never had issues with tape residue on the feathers. I tried the blue tape but it doesn’t stick enough to work here. I know many people swear by it but humidity and other local factors come into play. I suggest trying the many different ways that people use and decide what works best for you. I modify these as need be on larger birds such as geese and swans where I add a removable support wire under each wing to support all the extra weight. Once the caulk inside each wing dries it locks everything into place and is super strong. :thumbsup:
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Re: Sewing the head incision closed and carding wings

Postby duxrus » Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:55 pm

Pat,

This is a fresh bird so the bill hasn't turned dark yet . I wish I could paint that well :fingerhead:
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Re: Sewing the head, carding , and caulking

Postby Putmeincoach » Wed Feb 26, 2014 7:25 pm

Thanks for this Duxrus, especially the sewing tutorial. That bird looks amazing
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Re: Sewing the head, carding , and caulking

Postby sprigpig1 » Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:04 pm

Another great tutorial Brian
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Re: Sewing the head, carding , and caulking

Postby duxrus » Thu Feb 27, 2014 7:12 pm

Since we have been talking about using caulk I thought I would show the simple way I use it. The wings and tail area are where I inject it. To me it adds strength along with holding everything in place once dry.
Here you can see the wing wire coming from the manikin out through the wing. I simply use a caulk gun to inject the wing. If too much is injected, you can easily push the excess back up against the manikin after massaging the caulk throughout each wing. On stanging birds, I do not wire the wings and only pin them in place. I do inject the with caulk so once dry the wings are locked in place forever.
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I will suggest pushing the nozzle into the wing to make sure it doesn’t just end up against the manikin where it is about impossible to work back into the wing opening where you want it.
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Here you see the tail area being filled. When I say filled I am only adding it around the manikin and alittle around the tail quills. I just want enough to add strength .
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After the wings and tail areas have been injected and the caulk messaged into place, I add my filler to hold the caulk in place along with plumping up the areas where fat has been removed.
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As some of us discussed, this can be done by large syringes, curved tipped syringes, or caulk guns. I always use the size smaller manikin than needed to give me more “wiggle room” while working on birds. This helps with less tearing as large hands try to fit in tight spots and filler helps “me” get a smoother body shape.
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