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Got any tips of the trade ?

21467 Views 88 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  alanwebfoot
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…

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.

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…

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.

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.

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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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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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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I took some puctures today while skinning a bird, turning the wings, and skinning the head. I took some pictures of that process in Brian's wing tutorial later. I wanted to show you what I do when measuring a body. I know many people take measurements, but I use a slightly smaller body. I do take sketches both top and side so I can adjust my mannikins accordingly. I also sketch the neck in its natural curvature and have length, girth and shape.

Yes, the outlines will be bloody, but they dry. I normally save them for later references. If someone needs a measurement, I normally have it. I also write down length and girth measurement using a seamstress tape.


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I use a 60 mil syringe and a giant needle. I believe the Cajun injector would be a good alternative. I paid like 50 bucks for my needle that is used commercially to mix chemicals from one syringe to another. I cut the end off one, because the needle had two female fittings. After cutting it off, I sharpened it to a sharp point. It is stainless, and will of course last forever. Ted Weyenberg (taxidermist from Wisconsin) sells a curved plastic tipped syringe. The past I use is Roman's Brand. I basically fill a freezer bag with a few handfulls, and cut the corner off the bag, and fill my syringe like a cake frosting decorator.

I have several needles and syringes depending on the desired detail or application.
Here's some pictures.

You said no injectables? Do you inject your feet? Same principle.


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Lol, I have a source for needles and syringes. My price is right, but my source remains private. All my stuff is used. Never seen any possibility of blood born pathogens, because these needles are used solely in IV lines, or for saline, so they are flushed.
Some of the needles are up to 14 gauge to 24 gauge. The needles are very long. Awesome for running masters blend all the way up the toes, and the larger gauge for injecting the head and cheeks.


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Free! Lol

I like their flexibility. I can ride them right along the bone all the way to the heal. 101 ways buddy! ;-)
Dealing with sewing is definitely part of the game. I am mounting a mottled duck today. Yesterday I stitched no less than 200 stitches. Big tears, big holes, and I'm impressed with the outcome. Just need to use advice like Brian just gave. Make the feathers fit. Do not force them, or they will torque!
I actually used to make a precursor to almost all fabric softeners known as arquad. I'll be straight with you, understanding the science of chemistry, and how ionic and non ionic molecules interact with one another, I cannot see a single advantage to using "Downy"? Actually, I can only see a future disadvantage in the form of collecting dust in the future. One of the ingredients is a paraffin (wax) that In its own right loves to remain "charged", and acts like a magnet. That is probably why it fluffs up, because the clothing or feathers in this case, share the same charged energy, and like poles are not attracted to one another. Another good way to explain it is like car wax. The wax on your car leaves a film you really can barely see. Water will bead upon it because the paraffin molecules and the water molecule are both charged the same.

One more time on soap. Soap is the only thing that washes out oil. The soap molecule in the presence of the water, encapsulates the oil molecule. Oil has a very difficult time being rinsed with water alone. That is why when people say your skin looks like you didn't rinse all the soap off, should really be saying you need to add another soap wash to rinse more of the grease away. Fuel is not a degreaser. If you see schlock in your fuel, you need to wash more with soap. The fuel is removing water, and trapped oil within the feather, but only based on specific gravity. I'm not arguing this. No one is going to tell me any different. This is science lol. I also have witnessed my own skins as well as other skins that were fleshed, washed, and degreased. Some are better than others, but I would hope most of us are leaving some fat on the skin, like a mallard, otherwise, we may not have a skin if we continue to flesh until completely devoid of fat?

Oh, the science of taxidermy lol!
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Yes, George was actually referring to burn really, based on PH. I think you are safe with a 6 to 9 PH, and have only seen this burn or slippage in the context of soap, when I used a soap that was intended for laundry, and also had an oxidizer on top of it. I slipped every downy feather on two birds. The funny thing is, the feathers that had a feather butt, did not fall out. Just the down. I have a duck that is dehydrated right now, soaking in dawn and water, and it may for several hours. It will not burn the skin, I'm hoping it may relax it enough to skin it though lol. I have the head and vent soaking in a very liberal amount of dawn as well. Slipping in the vent and face is typically caused by bacteria found in the digestive system, and really loves to mess with feathers that don't have much stability in the form of a feather butt.
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Lol Bruce, so basically you do everything I wouldn't! Isn't it funny how there is 1001 ways to do something, when ultimately we just want the end result, which is a fluffy bird?

I work on the simple factor. Skin, wash, freeze a day, thaw in water, flesh wet, wash in dawn and water, wash wash wash, rinse warm, shock the skin cold, sew holes, wash again, shock in cold water and freeze. Thaw in cold water, wrap in towel, put wrapped bird in a ziplock and semi-dry in fridge for a couple hours. Invert, dust in borax, dry it all but the head and neck, spritz the skin, and put it in the freezer or fridge in a ziplock. They are good this way for a week, and now when you mount, it is basically ten minutes of drying with a hair drier, and you're wiring.

So I used well water, dawn, and borax, and I'll tell you right now, you do not need borax. Carpet and other dermestid beetles are an enemy that in my opinion gets introduced when you allow the putramine gas of decayed flesh to attract them, or you risk your collection by using wood or other matter you found, and did not treat. Kiln dried tumbled cedar seems silly and simple, but that's all that is in my home. Almost every case I have seen of an infestation was either a taxidermist who deals with mammals as well, or has accepted a trophy from someone else's home, or introduced their collection to driftwood etc. that was contaminated with some organism that had the munchies.

Getting back to the topic, results are results. We have a difficult time changing our tactics for that end result, if what we are currently using, satisfies us already. I think my wheeling is my savior. I can flesh a clean bird skin, but would never claim to be fast. Thorough would be a better description. :beer:

Also, taking a raw material and reacting it with another chemical changes its original name. These names on a label are designed to not give away proprietary information to their competitors. If I told you soap was a reaction of an amine in water and acid, then neutralized with a caustic, the label will read nothing like water, acrylic acid, amine, caustic soda, when in fact, that is what it is, until dyes, perfumes, and other "stuff" are added, so each company can claim their product is better lol.
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Pat, I know that after so much of the internet tough guys, you kind of sorta say enough is enough! Bruce is one of those guys like you and several others on here who appreciates putting all the BS behind, and talking civilly. I say talking, because every one of us knows that we all have learned bits and pieces through other people, and trial and error. I've made more mistakes than probably any other person...on many levels. The difference with me, is it's because I refuse to not try new stuff, and I'm stubborn. Most importantly, I have the capacity to learn from my failures, and I hope those that I try and surround myself with, have that same ability to try, learn, admit defeat, share, and be CIVIL! Otherwise, like you said, that schidt ain't welcome here. I am a comedian however, but I minimize my sarcasm to Facebook for the most part. LOL :beer:

By the way Bruce, that beer for Pat happens to be a Coors. That is where he retired from, and also knows about chemistry. The kind of chemistry I appreciate after mowing the lawn on a hot day! :thumbsup:

Bruce, I totally understand the drying process, and up until 20 birds ago, used odorless mineral spirits to gas. I am a hobby guy, I have a ton of time, I would change my process to get the green, and may change my process after training, because he happens to use gas, formalin, wrapped bodies and necks.......and on and on lol. I simply have seen a way different skin composition after going away from gas, and will never go back. Not because I think it's dangerous or bad for you. I know the bird dries quicker, I just prefer the skin and its limpness when not gassed.

1001 ways, and no one is wrong! Matter of fact, we are more right for giving the details, and letting others try something that might give them those same wonderful results. Or, they can do what most of us do, and grab this that and the other, and make their own recipe on whatever they are trying to accomplish!
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Beautiful swan Mike! I really dig the idea of foaming the breast/crop area. you are very talented.
Well Bruce, that makes much more sense, since you and I talked. Thanks for sharing. I'm making all useful posts stickies, but might one day create a list of useful tutorials. It takes a bit of work on my part to separate and repost them, but I will have to eventually, because there are plenty of friendly people willing to share such good info, but our page is filling up quickly!

Thanks again! Keep them coming!
Well I'm super excited to see the tutorial. I believe I will be ordering some new supplies soon. I do have a question. We talked on the phone, could I use a water based matt spray clear coat to seal the colors in versus what you use? Just curious how much you experimented with other sealers? And I can wait to ask after your tutorial is posted. :thumbsup:
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