Got any tips of the trade ?

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Inverting wings and skinning with a hook

Postby duxrus » Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:54 pm

Since some people have been asking how to invert wings or how to use hooks to skin I took some pictures of a pintail today. As with anything dealing with “how to” with taxidermy, this is just how I do it. I know many other methods exist and have tried others but this works best for me.

The first few pictures are to show how the hook and nooses work. I let gravity help keep everything out of my way as I go.


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Here is the wing at the first (elbow) joint. You need to carefully cut a small ligament loose along with starting to work the skin below the joint
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Once you are below the joint, I just use my thumb nail to break each feather butt free from the bone. You normally can break an inch or two at a time and then pulling the wing downward to expose the bone as you go. Once you reach the wrist joint you stop. On very large birds like Canada geese, a butter knife may need to be used if your thumb nail isn't strong enough to break them free.
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Re: Inverting wings and skinning with a hook

Postby The Waterfowler » Mon Feb 24, 2014 7:01 pm

Nice tutorial. Don't you just love shot up wings!!
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Re: Inverting wings and skinning with a hook

Postby duxrus » Mon Feb 24, 2014 7:12 pm

Pat, you beat me before finishing :lol3: and yes these take some finess so you don't rip everything apart :fingerhead:

Here is the wing after it has been inverted. It literally takes seconds to do once you start a wing....unless it is shot to heck to where you go VERY SLOW :sad:

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Here is after I easily remove the meat with a scalpal while it is still hanging

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The neck is done in a similar fashion where little actual cutting is needed. You can work the skin loose with your hand.

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Finally you will have a totally inverted and skinned bird ready for the fleshing wheel :thumbsup:
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I hope this helps and if someone has additional methods or tips please feel free to add them to this post. :smile:
I know others do not use a hook or noose and have great results by skinning on a bench. I have tried that way but the hanging method gets things done faster for me. I did what you see in the pictures in about 15 minutes....when not trying to take pictures and keeping my phone from getting goo on it :grooving:
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Re: Inverting wings and skinning with a hook

Postby The Waterfowler » Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:08 pm

And the fun part is when a wing bone or broken piece of bone penetrates under your thumb nail as you strip it down. All the more reason to carefully use a scalpel.
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Re: Inverting wings and skinning with a hook

Postby duxrus » Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:17 pm

After once you learn to proceed with caution :thumbsup: but yes your eyes will water as profanity fills the air :grooving:
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Re: Inverting wings and skinning with a hook

Postby sprigpig1 » Tue Feb 25, 2014 12:03 am

Very nice Brian...great tutorial.
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Re: Inverting wings and skinning with a hook

Postby Frank Lopez » Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:57 am

duxrus wrote:The neck is done in a similar fashion where little actual cutting is needed. You can work the skin loose with your hand.

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Not sure if this is the proper place to ask this, so if not, mods, pleas feel free to delete this. anyway, here goes.

Brian, Like you, I pretty much use the real skull and bill in my mounts. In this tutorial, I noticed that you use the hook and noose method to skin the neck and head as well. My question is, how do you manage to get the skin over the head? I've not used the noose on the head and neck, so most times I make a secondary cut on the back of the head. It presents some problems with sewing the cut, but it is doable if you go slow and careful. On some birds, I can get the skin right over the head, no problem.

Again, thanks for any help.

Frank
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Re: Inverting wings and skinning with a hook

Postby Pete-pec » Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:36 am

Frank, I'll answer for Brian, knowing his method to some degree. He will only invert the head on those that allow, otherwise he cuts his relief (most often) at the back of the head, where the longer crown feathers cover the stitching.

Brian uses just the top skull plate and fills the head with some type of poly fill. Pretty interesting method.

Of course he will invert those birds that allow you to do so, such as sea ducks, mergansers, wood duck, ruddy etc. His noose method does not allow him to invert heads that plain don't have the room to, but simply uses gravity to help him use two hands and simplify that particular part of skinning. Using an artificial head, once you invert the skin iver the head, you can pull the neck right through where the head was once attached.
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Re: Inverting wings and skinning with a hook

Postby hillbilly.. » Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:37 am

im gona try that skinning next time I always go from butt first and work my way up. and for the feathers on wings I use the back of my scaple to push on them and they pop right off a little easier for me atlest. and to answer that last question you skin around the bill and pop the head out that way.
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Re: Inverting wings and skinning with a hook

Postby Pete-pec » Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:46 am

I use my scalpel handle or my thumb to pop feather butts, but I only use a hook or noose to get to the elbow. Once there, armpit in one hand and thumb popping feather butts with the other normally.

Also hillbilly, Frank and Brian are using the real skull (or portion) and bill. I like the subject of real versus artificial, because I like both methods....and a couple others. Also, new guys typically start off using the real head, and this subject certainly applies to them. I'm not here to debate what method is best. Pro's and con's to both....and I still use both because of it.
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Re: Inverting wings and skinning with a hook

Postby hillbilly.. » Tue Feb 25, 2014 1:00 pm

im not gona debate real or fake im no were near the league these guys are at. hopefully one day..
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Re: Inverting wings and skinning with a hook

Postby duxrus » Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:49 pm

Pete-pec wrote:Frank, I'll answer for Brian, knowing his method to some degree. He will only invert the head on those that allow, otherwise he cuts his relief (most often) at the back of the head, where the longer crown feathers cover the stitching.

Brian uses just the top skull plate and fills the head with some type of poly fill. Pretty interesting method.

Of course he will invert those birds that allow you to do so, such as sea ducks, mergansers, wood duck, ruddy etc. His noose method does not allow him to invert heads that plain don't have the room to, but simply uses gravity to help him use two hands and simplify that particular part of skinning. Using an artificial head, once you invert the skin iver the head, you can pull the neck right through where the head was once attached.


Pete knows me way to well :thumbsup:

I do my head cut on the top, starting at the base of the back of the skull and running it about 2" back toward the body. Like Pete said the feathers are the longest there so you can easily hide your stiches. When stitching it closed...do NOT pull the stitch tight. If you do you will never get those feathers to lay correctly and will end up with a "Mohawk" where some of them get bound in the stitching. I leave plenty of slack between stitches where you can still see the necking material through the cut. This will allow for some "wiggle" room as you preen the head and neck after positioning.

You can invert woodies but I have long sense stopped and just cut them. If there are any shot holes you will rip it plus it takes some time to slowly strech that skin over the skull where as just cutting it only takes a few minutes anyway. Now sea ducks are another story since you could fit a baseball through their neck skin :lol3:
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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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Taxidermy tips and tutorials

Postby duxrus » Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:27 pm

Wel l since I have been in picture taking mode I thought some people would find these tips and methods useful… I also thought this could be a great way to learn from each other :thumbsup:

Many times we all have seen pictures of mounts where there is no smooth transition between the head/neck/breast junction. People always say that the skin needed to be “taxied” forward. Odds are many people are thinking “what the heck does “taxi-ing” mean.

Here is a bird where you can see a head with a thin neck ending abruptly into a wide breast…
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All I did was pull the breast skin forward toward the head to thicken the neck up and to give it a smoother transition for a more pleasing look. This literally takes less than a minute to pull the skin forward and to work the feathers back into place. This is what is ment by “taxi’ing the skin forward”. Now you can pull too much forward for the no neck appearance so it is always a judgement call as to how much do you adjust. I did some modification to this hen after the picture but thought you would get the idea.
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Another easy fix is the mud or rust stain found on many birds breast and neck areas. On this pintail you can see it has quite a bit of stain…
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All I did was applied some Whink’s to the stained areas with the feathers being wet. Within a few seconds you will see the stain simply disappear. A second application may be needed if you miss a spot. After the stains are gone I just rinse the skin in water and proceed. There are numerous products that do the same thing so this is just what I use.
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I use latex gloves because of certain chemicals so I wanted to share a great brand of them I have used for the past few years. They are super strong and can be taken off and re-used multiple times. I originally bought a box for 14$ from a supplier but have since found that you can buy them for 7$ a box straight from the company. You can hardly by the cheap, rip if you look at them wrong brands for that.
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I really want to get other’s input on this topic since we are never too old to learn new tricks. Some of us take for granted that we use this or that because it has just been how we learned way back when even though some better method or product has existed. If you have any tip about this or that please post it up.
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wire and wall mount

Postby Pete-pec » Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:56 pm

I'll add this.

wiring to a base that will hang on a wall. I know it sounds silly, but without recessing for the wire and a hanger, your base will not sit flat against the wall, and the bird will wobble.

I drill three holes for the 30 cent hanger. The holes are drilled with a flat wood bit in 3/4 inch. The two lower holes are drilled deep enough to account for the screws that hold the hanger, and the top hole is deeper to allow for the screw that is on the wall that will hold the mount. I just put the hanger on the back, and mark the screw holes and the top of the hanger.

I drill a hole the size of my wire that holds the bird. I also take an electric wood carver and make a channel that the wire will sit in. I typically use 6 gauge wire for most of my mounts for added stability. I will also pre-drill a couple holes and will take a couple fence staples and hammer them in place across the 6 gauge wire. This wire will go nowhere. If you ever wanted to add that bird to a different base, a bend of the wire and it comes right out.

I like the idea of this, and I will share other things, because I certainly have my way of doing things. :wink: I'm sure we all do!
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Re: Got any tips of the trade ?

Postby Pete-pec » Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:05 pm

Tried rotating it three times from my phone. If someone is at a computer please rotate it or I will tomorrow. Thanks.
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Re: Got any tips of the trade ?

Postby Pete-pec » Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:49 pm

Eye ring made of epoxie sculpt.

One of an old squaw before paint.

Another painted for a ross.

I have posted my technique in the past, and basically plug the eye in to wet apoxie sculpt when I do my eyes. Basically wrap the eye, allow to dry an hour or two, and shave the rim to make a thin ring. This method was made by me out of necessity as I do struggle with setting the eyes. You must use a smaller eye normally. I prefer 8mm most of the time.
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Re: Got any tips of the trade ?

Postby sprigpig1 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:37 pm

Good stuff as usuall Pete and Brian.. Well this one isn't as technical as Pete and brians but here is what I like to do while skinning. I will take pictures of drum sticks before I remove the meat.(takes 2 seconds)
image.jpg

This allows me to rebuild the anatomy very close in the legs. If you use to much filler on the legs it will take up too much room and possibly make your bird to tight around the form( we all know that's trouble ) Too little will make for a "hungry" looking bird. I use cotton batting for re -building the legs. Like Brian said there are many ways to do things this just works for me.. Especially when your to the leg and wing building stage and forget how much tissue and tendons you removed. Kinda helps me be more detail oriented..especially on bigger birds like geese where there is a lot more of it. I used to just trace it out, but I would always lose the whatever I traced it on. Obviously the pic is just reference and does not have any measurements like you would have on the neck.. Or body somewhat. But none the less, legs and wing musculature are also crucial anatomy that need to be somewhat on the money IMO.

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Re: Got any tips of the trade ?

Postby sprigpig1 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:49 pm

Pete-pec wrote:Tried rotating it three times from my phone. If someone is at a computer please rotate it or I will tomorrow. Thanks.


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