Taxidermy is a very fascinating hobby, one that encompasses many different skills and crafts - such as casting, sculpture, woodworking and carpentry - and which can produce works of art on display at homes, museums and homes. Taxidermy has also found its use in the study of the anatomy and physical characteristics of animals. If you're interested in learning how to do taxidermy, it's best to start first with the basics.
What is taxidermy? Traditionally, taxidermy involves the removal of the skin of dead animals, and then shaping and recreating it to form lifelike models. There are however, taxidermists who stick to preserving only the heads, necks and shoulders of the specimens; these are called game head mounts. In addition, it is becoming a more common practice for taxidermists to use man-made materials on all the parts of their specimen. Animals that are used for taxidermy include birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.
Taxidermy might be considered a complicated process especially by amateurs, considering that it takes months of labor to complete. The techniques and methods would depend on the particular animal category a taxidermist would work with, but the basics goes like this: the animal specimen to be used is preserved by freezing, after which the skin is carefully removed. This skin is cleaned, tanned and treated with cleansing and preserving chemicals. In the meantime, the taxidermist should measure the bones and muscles of the animal; this information is used later to recreate its structure. After this data- gathering, the body is molded in plaster; this would serve to be the structure onto which the taxidermist would put the skin back. A word about this mold: nowadays, commercial molds are available so a taxidermist won't have to do the molding and measuring himself. Not only would this significantly cut down the labor involved, these models are also generally anatomically correct, enabling taxidermists to produce quality mounts. Taxidermists could also choose among the realistic poses available on the market.
The taxidermist would need to install the other parts of the animal into the mold; if he is making a deer mount, for example, he should install the animal antlers in the proper position using special gluing material. Other parts, such as eyes, are available in glass materials in taxidermy shops. Afterwards, the prepared skin is put back on. The mount is left to dry.
Once the skin on the mold has dried completely, the mount is given some finishing work. This is more artistry, since the taxidermist would need to restore the animal's natural color using airbrush, tube oil, acrylic paint or latex paint. Different techniques may be used depending on the part of the animal being restored. Apart from restoring the natural colors, shrunken and other deformed areas of the mount are restructured using wax or other sculpting material.
Creating fish mounts is very popular among taxidermists, since it's relatively easier to fish than to hunt (plus, it serves to reinforce the fisherman's claims about his prize catch). The process for creating a mounted fish is generally the same as the process enumerated above, though the finishing is considered harder to do since the colors of fish scales are a little complicated to recreate.
Interested to begin your own taxidermy project? You can go visit websites such as vandykestaxidermy.com to order your supplies and materials. Good luck!