|Patterning and Carving Original Fish Bodies by host|
I AM PLEASED TO HAVE BEEN GIVEN the opportunity to write a series of fish and related taxidermy articles for BREAKTHROUGH. As an instructor at the Rinehart School of Taxidermy, I have had the chance to develop and refine techniques and procedures that are equally accurate and efficient. The sequence in which techniques are performed is just as important as the actual techniques. With this in mind, I strive to develop techniques and procedures that create the minimal amount of wasted energy and effort and create the highest quality. This ideology comes from my background as a professional taxidermist, depending on taxidermy for my income. The primary inefficiencies in taxidermy stem from a lack of evaluating the procedures that have a true impact on the quality of the finished mount. If you do not understand the steps that are of primary importance, you will extend equal effort to all steps, thus wasting time and depriving the important steps of additional attention. When I first started skinning fish, I didn’t have a clue as to which steps were of primary importance. The result was that you could “eat lunch” on the fish I skinned. True, they were the cleanest fish I have ever skinned. Unfortunately, an 18-inch smallmouth bass took more than four hours to skin and scrape! Well, I knew that wasn’t going to provide the shop-rate that would satisfy me. I reevaluated each step and its corresponding impact on finished quality.
|Mounting a Coldwater Fish With a Manufactured Mannikin by host|
ANY TAXIDERMIST WHO MOUNTS TROUT FROM THE GREAT LAKES WILL have 101 horror stories about the difficulties associated with mounting these fish. Trout out of the Great Lakes tend to be very greasy and oily. For a taxidermist, this means more time cutting away oily material, rebuilding shrunken areas, and more attention to detail during the scraping process. The good thing is that these fish generate more money because they tend to be large. Also, it is normal for taxidermists to charge from $1.00 to $3.00 more per inch for trout, salmon, and char. In other words, they require more labor, but a taxidermist is paid for his/her additional work. Lake trout are the greasiest of all the fish that I have mounted. Therefore, I thought this species would provide an excellent demonstration of how to easily manage Great Lakes trout, as well as trout in general. So let’s get started!
|Bondo Fish Seams by host|
I RECENTLY VISITED THE TAXIDERMY STUDIO of my good friend, Paul Burczycki. Paul is the owner of St. Clair Flats Taxidermy Studio in Algonac, Michigan. Although Paul was not there that day,
While I was visiting with Matt, I noticed the way the back seams on their wall-mount fish had been finished. It caught my eye because the finished seams looked very clean and professional. I immediately asked Matt how he achieved such a look. Matt said that it is was a very simple process and he would be glad to show me if I had a couple minutes. A couple minutes?
|Reproduction Fish Blanks Scale Texturing and Prep-Work by host|
IF YOU CAN PAINT A GOOD NATURAL FISH, YOU CAN paint a good reproduction fish. The only difference in painting the two is the prep-work required on a reproduction prior to coloring. A skin-dried fish ready for painting has a natural tone that combines varying intensities of gray, brown, and black (undertone coloration). Even though all the color of a fish disappears during the drying, this natural undertone coloration remains and provides a textured background over which transparent colors are applied. This undertone is known as the vermiculation-patterning and provides the patterning that makes a painted fish look natural.
|Painting a Muskellunge by host|
THE FOLLOWING IS A COLOR schedule I use to begin painting a muskie. I say “begin” because a painting schedule should only be used as a starting point. Fish colorations can vary from fish to fish. This muskie painting schedule, however, represents how I paint the coloration of an average natural muskie. This is not a paint schedule for a tiger muskie and should not be confused with a hybrid muskie. I will be using Lifetone paints throughout this article. Pick up an airbrush, set the air pressure at 35 PSI and get painting!
|Preventing Scale Loss With Glue by host|
ANYONE WHO HAS SKINNED A LOOSE scaled fish understands the problems of losing scales during the skinning process. Scale loss leads to a mount with an inconsistent and rough finish. Once scales have separated from the skin, there is little that can be done to fix the damage. Some people try to glue the scales back in place, however, I have not seen this process successfully performed. The end result is that there is no way you can achieve an attractive, professional mount if you lose scales during the skinning, scraping, and mounting processes.