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Got any tips of the trade ?

21468 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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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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You can order syringes for places like Walgreens and Publix for about 20$ per box of 100 for 3cc sizes. If you buy them from an open box they will charge you more.

Pete, I am the opposite on needle length. The longer ones tend to bend too much for my likings. I normally use 1/2" to 3/4".
Free! Lol

I like their flexibility. I can ride them right along the bone all the way to the heal. 101 ways buddy! ;-)
Or in my case right through the birds toe and into my hand :eek: :censored: :eek:
Here is why I take the extra time to soak my birds in a degreaser after many washes in Dawn....

After soaking skins for a few hours...

Initially the water and degreaser are clear but as you can see it definitely isn't clear after a few hours of soaking skins. Between fat and blood it is pulling something off that regular washings wasn't getting.
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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!
Pete, you are so lucky to have that "free" connection! no place around me would consider it, regardless what they were used for. medical protocol in my area. my only choice is to buy them outright, and even then certain things need a medical licence to purchase items. lucky guy!
Brian. are your first soaks in Dawn? I start with the heavy duty de greaser scrubbing and rinsing skin inside out 3-4 times before I do a soak. When the water starts to clear, I invert and then soak still with heavy duty. Then I wash with Dawn until the water is crystal clear. Then into a short bath of Downey. From allot of the pictures of mounted birds I have seen on this site, they do not look well cleaned before mounting. BTW, did you get your check?
chesapeaketaxi said:
A couple dorsal cut mounts.please keep sharing!
Dude!! I love those mounts and the habitats!
What does the Downey do? How much and how long? My mounts I flesh wash and rinse well with dawn only. I don't really soak more than 10 mins or so. Feathers on belly are slightly clumpy. Not bad, just not as smooth as I would like.
Downey from what I understand cuts the soap and helps fluff the down. I soak mine for about 10 minutes. Only thing I do notice is it takes forever to rinse downey out After. From the sounds of it you may not be rinsing well enough or if the feathers look or feel greasy it may be a combination of washing and rinsing.

Rinsing is one thing I struggled with for awhile. I found if I do not use a sprayer of some sort (sink sprayer or shower head) they never get rinsed enough.
chesapeaketaxi said:
Brian. are your first soaks in Dawn? I start with the heavy duty de greaser scrubbing and rinsing skin inside out 3-4 times before I do a soak. When the water starts to clear, I invert and then soak still with heavy duty. Then I wash with Dawn until the water is crystal clear. Then into a short bath of Downey. From allot of the pictures of mounted birds I have seen on this site, they do not look well cleaned before mounting. BTW, did you get your check?

I wash under the faucet before a Dawn scrub. I then leave the skins in the dawn water to soak as I flesh additional birds. Once they all are fleshed and washed, I rinse in warm water before into the heavy duty degreaser for a few hours . After the degreaser they get a quick rinse before going back into the freezer until mounting day.

I used Downey for a few months but found some feathers didn't "recover" as I liked. (Probably rinsing issues) I hàve since quit using it. Then again it could have been reacting with the degreaser for the negative effects. As soon as I stopped using it the feather issues went away
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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Science and logic have no place in any discussion :fingerpt:


On the other site, someone was stating that dawn could cause negative effects such as slippage because of its chemistry if left in contact too long. Because of its antibacterial properties I actually rub the face and vent area with Dawn as a slippage deterrent as larger birds are slowly thawing or thawed birds that have to stay in the frig overnight. I have only had slippage issues with a handful of birds in twenty something years and none of those had been treated with Dawn prior to washing. Your thoughts professor :grooving:
Interesting, I may just have to try without one time, just the way I was shown and explained to me.

I believe the talk was the alky property of dawn if I'm not mistaken.
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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Pete. great and informative posts on this thread! I am no way a chemist, but our hobby or job puts us all into a position to have to work with all kinds of chemicals, and preservatives. a vast amount of those were never intended for what they are used for in taxidermy. in the old days, sharing those materials and techniques were coveted and almost never shared. modern taxidermists, now can hear and discuss as well as trade what works for them. I have experimented and changed my avian de- greasing process more times than I care to remember. every aspect of taxidermy has to deal with bacteria and grease, but birds seem to be the only one that we soak in water without a chemical additive such as salt, acid or other setting material. therefor, IMO, any product used to clean birds should have a very low PH to help prevent slippage and feather loss. everyone's water composition also varies and can make what works for some not work for others. I have well water that goes through an elaborate filter system since I am 500 ft from the bay front. Stop Rot is invaluable to me, and has a PH just under 4. Kemsol PH @5, and Ultra Downey Clean Breeze with a PH of 4. my water is very soft with a PH around 6. I checked the PFD on this one, of many Downey products. It actually to my surprise contains formic acid as well as a mile long chemical added as a preservative. there is no mention of paraffin as part of its chemical composition, at least with the Downey I use. I also use a Coleman fuel bath, then hand dry with fine corn cob grit and potato starch.
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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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Pete. thanks for the beer LOL. I have always been azz backwards since the day I was born! unfortunately, not being a hobbyist, time is of the essence for me to get the bird out the door and get that green in my hand. I wish I could work at your pace! I use puffed borax, as it tightens up the skin for me after let out. to me, it also helps keep the feathers cleaner during the mounting process. I have never had an issue with insect infestation on any mount, nor have never had a bird returned to me with that problem. might just be because of where I live, who knows. I am lucky that I can walk out my back door and collect driftwood from the bay. I don't mount ducks on a stick, so any wood I use is small select pieces that I work into my wall mounts or bases. any wood I use is treated or micro waved. 95% of the drift wood I use is collected wet, and dried in a separate enclosed area. other than drift wood, I use no other type of of wood, other than bought lumber. some 25 years ago I was called to an insect outbreak in a guys office. the taxidermist had used barked wood on a mount. when I got there, there were thousands of just hatched preying mantis everywhere. so I know where you are coming from. anyway here is a :beer: back at ya
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