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Posted: 2/6/2007 11:09:06 AM EST
So I began a taxidermy mount this morning, and remembered that some had asked that I try to take a pictoral history of it.  I still didn't remember until I had it about 25% done.

sorry.

But!  I just started where I remembered.  The bird has been skinned, degreased, washed, blotted dry, borax preservative added, clay added to the eye sockets, wire put in the legs, wings, and neck, and cloth added under the wire to replace the muscle that is removed from the leg and wing bones.

He has been sewn up and is getting blown dry in this first photo.  It looks much better than the drowned rat that they look like when they are wet.   My students always think, "there is no way in hell that is going to turn out good".

At this point he is almost dry.  Almost all the feathers are now fluffed and ready to position.  The inside of most of the feathers is still wet, and will need more blowing.


Here he is fully fluffed....I blow him dry with an air hose.  Cold air only, or the feathers will fall out.


I did some positioning, and added a wire down the middle to hold him up on his soon to be stand.  Here I am adding some tape with a carded backing to hold the wing feathers out in the position I want.  I've also played around with turning up the wing tips to make it look like he is pushing air on take off.  It will  get better.

He is now positioned, but needs fine tuning.  Wing tips are turned on both wings...no eyes yet.


final postion. Taking off, turning out into the room, head high. Notice the wire out of his head still, and feathers out of alignment.  He needs primping.


More to come next post.  This was about 3hrs worth of work.  It is not yet lunchtime.



Link Posted: 2/6/2007 11:17:59 AM EST
Time for the eyes, but first I need to fill the cheeks.  If I don't they will shrink and almost all the red will be shriveled up.
I add a little quilting batting with a piece of wire, and push it down into the cheeks.


More batting...They look like poo if the cheeks shrink.


Now it is eye time.  I lift the eye lit open on the bottem and drop the eye in, then lift the upper lid around it.


Notice the eye is in on this one, and the bottom lid(white) is now tucked, the upper one is pulled down slightly.


Feathers are now pretty good and in proper place, the wire on his head is cut, and the wing tips are pretty close to being good.  Still more work needed later, but it needs to dry some.


Brushing out the feathers on the wings.  They still need a lot of work, but that will come after the skin is much dryer.


A little tail action.  I put batting inbetween the feathers to make them look more realistic, before they dry.  Once they dry the batting will be removed and the feathers will stay put.


It's just after lunch now.  I only put in about an hour on the eyes and feathers.  It needs to dry some more before I do much else.  In a couple of days, I'll post some more photos of air brushing the cheeks, eyes, feet, and my flower power skills.
Link Posted: 2/6/2007 11:20:20 AM EST
tag
Link Posted: 2/6/2007 1:12:55 PM EST
As always,great work and thanks!
(My attempts at birds scare the hell out of wimmenz and chilrens!)
Link Posted: 2/6/2007 1:28:34 PM EST
Very informative, thanks.
Link Posted: 2/6/2007 5:20:45 PM EST
I forgot this one.  It is as it will look from the wall.
Link Posted: 2/6/2007 7:59:08 PM EST
I was the guy who asked for the time line photos as I love the art just wish I knew how to do it



I love the tax photos, keep em coming.
Link Posted: 2/7/2007 4:44:37 AM EST

Quoted:
I was the guy who asked for the time line photos as I love the art just wish I knew how to do it



I love the tax photos, keep em coming.



Cold, you could do this easily.  I would say, "you could teach a monkey to do this,"  but I do that every day I go to work.

I learned the most by watching a video from Van Dykes taxidermy catalog.  It was produced/directed/starred-in, very amateurishly, by a guy in Billings MT.   I learned a whole bunch from that video.   If you want to learn, that is a great way to do it.  There are of course tricks that you can pick up from other sources, but my students watch the video every year as a prep to the taxidermy unit.

Some of my students do better work than a guy that went to "school" and does it as a part-time business here in town.  

My secret for today's lesson in taxidermy is.....
"Don't over stuff the bird with a form that is too large for the skin.  Stretching the skin to fit makes the feathers stick out and keep from laying flat.  They won't cover everything properly, making your mount look bad.  The skin should fit over the form easily, with a slight bit of slack."
Link Posted: 2/7/2007 7:10:33 AM EST
This is a supplement to yestereday's bird....

All we had was a peacock.
A student brought him in this morning.  She has always wanted  to do a peacock.


Here I am starting to skin the head from the beak back.  The skull was too big to go through the neck; that sucks, so we started skinning.


Here is another shot of the head....


Here is the head fully skinned and eyeballs removed.  It will have the brains blown out with an air hose, and cleand up with a wire wheel.

This is my student's favorite part...blowing out the brains


Body, neck, and legs have been removed or muscle removed already, except for the wings.  Here is a wing after skinning, before the meat is removed from the bones.


Lesson this morning.....wholely cow, they are big birds!  My student wants to do the bird with the tail fanned out. I told her she needed to consult with her parents about where the heck she was going to put it first.
Link Posted: 2/7/2007 9:48:04 AM EST
Wow, never seen a peacock done, would make QUITE the coyote decoy with tha flowing tail :)

Nice looking pics, keep em coming, I at least enjoy these things!
Link Posted: 2/7/2007 10:57:44 AM EST

Quoted:
Wow, never seen a peacock done, would make QUITE the coyote decoy with tha flowing tail :)

Nice looking pics, keep em coming, I at least enjoy these things!


Neither have we.  Got any advice?
Link Posted: 2/7/2007 11:06:31 AM EST
tag
Link Posted: 2/7/2007 1:22:39 PM EST
Very nice work
Link Posted: 2/7/2007 1:38:45 PM EST
Verry cool
Link Posted: 2/7/2007 2:22:30 PM EST
Dare I ask...what's the cause of death for the peacock?    

It doesn't look like a car hit it (the most common reason around here...peacocks are actually pretty common in the Melbourne, FL area) and it doesn't look like a predator got it, either.

Was there maybe a small hole in it somewhere, that's not standard equipment for peacocks, by chance?


They're beautiful as can be but they ARE godawful noisy, especially during mating season.  I can understand how some of them might end up shot dead.


CJ
Link Posted: 2/7/2007 2:38:28 PM EST

Quoted:
Dare I ask...what's the cause of death for the peacock?    

It doesn't look like a car hit it (the most common reason around here...peacocks are actually pretty common in the Melbourne, FL area) and it doesn't look like a predator got it, either.

Was there maybe a small hole in it somewhere, that's not standard equipment for peacocks, by chance?


They're beautiful as can be but they ARE godawful noisy, especially during mating season.  I can understand how some of them might end up shot dead.


CJ


COD was massive overdose of #6 birdshot.

My student asked another teacher if she could have one, as the teacher raises them.  The other teacher has been on the receiving end of many a taxidermy project for her classes...including hawlks, and falcons, so she did it with pleasure.

Her husband dispatched the bird, but it took a couple of shots. He managed to break both legs with the first shot.  He was trying to not destroy the head.
Link Posted: 2/8/2007 7:33:31 AM EST
I can appreciate a nice mounted bird,  but I have to admit...there's something just a bit OFF about being able to have a live pet peacock on your property and opting instead to have it killed and mounted.

It'd be sort of like choosing to have my dog killed, stuffed, and mounted.   There's nothing wrong with her now and she's quite a bit more interactive and sociable than she would be if she were mounted.

Granted, peacocks aren't the same level of pet as a good dog....


I'm not slamming the practice of taxidermy...no way.   But if I wanted a stuffed peacock, I'd put the word out to zoos and any place that has peacocks, asking them to be on the watch for a freshly dead one in good shape suitable for mounting,  rather than knock off a perfectly good live one.    

But that's just me.


CJ
Link Posted: 2/8/2007 10:35:03 AM EST

Quoted:
I can appreciate a nice mounted bird,  but I have to admit...there's something just a bit OFF about being able to have a live pet peacock on your property and opting instead to have it killed and mounted.

It'd be sort of like choosing to have my dog killed, stuffed, and mounted.   There's nothing wrong with her now and she's quite a bit more interactive and sociable than she would be if she were mounted.

Granted, peacocks aren't the same level of pet as a good dog....


I'm not slamming the practice of taxidermy...no way.   But if I wanted a stuffed peacock, I'd put the word out to zoos and any place that has peacocks, asking them to be on the watch for a freshly dead one in good shape suitable for mounting,  rather than knock off a perfectly good live one.    

But that's just me.


CJ


It's a little different around here, in an agricultural area.   People raise animals for slaughter.   My friend's daughters raise sheep to show in the local fair.   A local ROP'er comes out frequently and buys them for slaughter.  

Kids raise rabbits, chickens, ducks, ect. for the fair.  They care for them like they were pets, then sell them off to the highest bidder, who usually eats them.  Kid pockets the money.

This isn't much different.   The teacher that raises them, and has dozens.   They are just a farm animal to her.  We have pets, but we also have livestock.  This is just livestock. There is a local bird farm that raises quail, pheasants, grouse to sell for hunts.  I call him from time to time for a bird.  His son just brings one, culled from the day before.

After inspecting the legs and breasts of the peacock, I'll bet they are quite tastey.  

For us, it just seems different than say a dog, cat, or any real pet.

Understand that we also are in an educational setting, so the process is what is most important to the students, not where the bird comes from.  I personally, would not have any animal that I did not hunt in a fair chase setting, hanging in my house, but there are those who do.  The  kids don't really care about that so much as the process of learning the taxidermy.  Many kids shoot their own birds and want to mount those, but many don't hunt, and just need a bird.  Those students are usually the ones that want a colorful bird to work on.  If I put two birds out, one being a female mallard, the other a male wood duck, do you think I'll have any takers on wanting to work on the mallard?  Nope.  Not pretty enough.  They want a bird that is pretty to look at....this particular girl finds the peacock very attractive, and exciting to work on.  

This is not her first taxidermy project with me, so she is looking for something different and exciting.  The teacher who gave her the bird, just wants to contribute to that excitement.  The teacher isn't going to get the bird back, unless the students parents won't let her have it.   Then the bird will go in the teacher's classroom(Natual Sciences).
Link Posted: 2/8/2007 11:13:23 AM EST
Sounds reasonable.    Things are different in agricultural areas.

I say, do the peacock in full "I'm horny" pose.   Tail in full fan,  etc.




Of course, getting it through the average doorway will be a challenge....





Link Posted: 2/8/2007 12:21:15 PM EST

Quoted:
It'd be sort of like choosing to have my dog killed, stuffed, and mounted.   There's nothing wrong with her now and she's quite a bit more interactive and sociable than she would be if she were mounted.



CJ


Actually pet taxidermy is growing.FAST!
Some real s out there,but if you can turn a buck.
My wife gets "bereaved" owners asking her all the time if she knows where they can get the late Fluffy stuffed.If I didn't despise dealing with people....

My kids have pets,and "eatin' " critters,as they call them.And know the differnce.
Guess it's how/where you were raised.
Link Posted: 2/12/2007 10:52:52 AM EST
Update and more pictures......

Today we are painting his cheeks, to bring the red back that turns dark and purple when the skin dries.  He is not quiet competely dry yet, but we are going to paint him anyway.  I have a deadline on this bird, and we are running out of time.

Here is the paint being applied to the cheeks.  You can see the right side is more red than the left.


Finished side


Now we are reapplying black to the spots on his cheeks.  Most commercial birds do not do this, but it really should be done.   Normally, you can still make out some of the black feathers before you apply the paint, so you know where you are going.


Finiished spots...


Now a little linseed oil on the beak, then rubbed off, to give it an "alive" look.


And some wettness to the eyes.  I add a gloss clear coat over the glass eyes.  It blends the eye lids with the eyes, and makes them look wet.


Here is the start of the floral arrangement....I don't have a lot today, and need some wild grasses, so I'm only doing a bit today.


Here is a bit more, but this is it for today.  You can see how the wire is starting to blend in with the direction of the weeds.  I will cover it when I get some wild grass.  I wend down and bought some dried flowers, but I don't have time to grab the grasses today, so it will be tomorrow before I can do any more work on it.

Link Posted: 2/12/2007 2:26:28 PM EST
A most excellent post. THANKS for your effort! I had no idea there was so much detail involved. Keep up the good work!  
Link Posted: 2/12/2007 5:31:44 PM EST
One thing you might notice is the color of the beak, and the difference between a fresh bird, and a dry cape.  The dried beak is dark, as the fresh beak is more of an almond color.

Many people try to paint the beak to look like the almond color.   I have never seen one that I liked done that way.  It always looks fake.  The beak is somewhat translucent, and you lose that by painting it.   I just leave the beak and add the linseed oil, to keep it looking fresh.
Link Posted: 2/13/2007 5:21:49 AM EST
Got any more pics of the peacock project?


CJ

Link Posted: 2/13/2007 5:45:54 AM EST
I love pheasant mounts.....thanks for sharing.
Link Posted: 2/13/2007 6:58:39 AM EST

Quoted:
Got any more pics of the peacock project?


CJ



CJ, the students don't start their projects for another two weeks.  I'll start another post for that when it gets going again.  

Here is an UPDATE for today...

Cut some grass this morning before work, and I'm pretty much done now with the flowers.  I still have some work to do on feathers, but I'm pretty close to done now.


I added a little barbed wire for a little rustic look.

Here is a close up of the flowers.  
Link Posted: 3/15/2007 10:18:49 AM EST
New pictures of the peacock coming shortly.........

Here is the students washing the peacock after using a wire wheel to scrape off the fat.  They rinsed the bird in paint thinner, first to remove most of the grease, then Dawn to get out the rest.....


close up...


They look like drowned rats when the birds come out of the wash...Then they are dried with paper towells, and borax is added for preservative.  Wires are added in the wings, legs, and neck..

The head is superglued back onto the skin after it was cleaned, and preservative and clay added...






You can see the student sewing up the bird here..





After it is sewn up, the students carried it over to the air hoses to dry out...






slowly, the bird comes dry, and the feathers fluff back up....






Some feathers always fall out, but it means something else when the come out of a peacock!

If we need them, we can superglue them back in..


The bird is up, but covered until tomorrow.  I'll post what it looks like posed sometime tomorrow.


Link Posted: 3/15/2007 11:13:05 AM EST
Thought I'd also update you on what the Pheasant auctioned off for at the WY Sportsman's banquet in Cody a few weeks ago.  It sold for $250.   Not as much as I would have hoped, but oh well.  
Link Posted: 3/15/2007 12:02:53 PM EST
I was curious how birds were done...

Great pics.

Thanks a lot!    
Link Posted: 3/15/2007 2:29:33 PM EST
As always,THANKS!
Great work!
Link Posted: 3/15/2007 2:52:38 PM EST
The peacock will be interesting to see.
The pheasant looks descent except for the the wing tips. How did they get so curled?
Link Posted: 3/15/2007 3:27:23 PM EST

Quoted:
The peacock will be interesting to see.
The pheasant looks descent except for the the wing tips. How did they get so curled?


 I did that on purpose to try to show the force of a rapid explosion out of the brush....some of my students didn't like it either.   I've seen photographs that show this kind of bend at the tips, so I tried to portray that in the mount.  Some people don't like it.  Probably one of the reasons it didn't go for more.  Most people don't know that is what happens in real life.

I've done it before, but don't know if I'll do it again.  
Link Posted: 3/15/2007 3:35:29 PM EST
your a talented guy. Very nice work
Link Posted: 3/15/2007 4:52:14 PM EST
Once in a while on Arfcom, there's a really great thread and this is one of them!  I find this incredibly fascinating.  

I have a goose over my mantle that I shot years back, but I've never understood how the taxidermist got all the innards out and gave it back to me in such pristine condition.  I guess it has always been one of those mystical arts to me.
Link Posted: 3/15/2007 7:04:52 PM EST
Link Posted: 3/15/2007 11:51:44 PM EST
Great thread, thank you.  My middle school princpal was the one who sparked my interest in taxidermy.  Your thread brought back memories decades old.



Link Posted: 3/16/2007 1:08:11 AM EST
Wow, this thread rules!
Link Posted: 3/16/2007 6:41:46 AM EST
UPdate 3/16.....

Just so you understand, these are students who are doing the work on all these birds...not me.   You will see some mistakes, and some simple positions, but it's their first time, and that is the tough part.  Some will do some outstanding postions, some, who just want to get done, won't.  They bring in photos of live birds to use as references.  I run around like a chicken with it's head cut off for an hour trying to help each of them get as much as possible done in time.   They then put them back in the freezer/fridge until the next day.  The peacock was done in one day, because it was too fracken big to go back in the fridge.  It is now drying, then details will be done.

Ok, here are the photos for today....

Feet need preserved...she's shooting them up with preservative.  It leaks out of the holes, as we expand the skin withthe liquid as much as possible..






Peacock thinks he is a big mouth, and won't keep his trap shut, so tape goes on...


The head feathers need posistions in a "fan" also.....


Here is the position that we thought would be the easiest to find a place for in the student's home.....mom and dad will be so happy.



from the side...


What are the other students doing?
blowing out ducks...


little greenwing teal...

pheasant...


shoulder mount of a deer with some custom mounting to a "tree"


Until next time.


Link Posted: 3/18/2007 6:41:57 AM EST
Thanks for the updates and sharing the photos.
Link Posted: 3/18/2007 4:46:51 PM EST
This is great.....thanks for sharing.
Link Posted: 3/20/2007 10:10:22 PM EST
All the photos show up broken for me...   I'd really like to see them as it sounds very interesting.
Link Posted: 4/18/2007 8:14:55 AM EST
Last update:
Sorry I didn't show more progression photos.   The "rock" turned out well, for her first time doing it.   I should have showed you how it came together.  Things got crazy in that class for a while.  I was just too busy to take photos.

We are taking this to state art tomorrow......

Her peacock turned out pretty well..




Link Posted: 4/18/2007 7:56:32 PM EST
Great pics !
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