A beginner How-To, My Method of Mounting Small Mammals
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Taxidermy.Net Forum  |  Beginners, Training & Tutorials  |  Tutorials  |  Topic: A beginner How-To, My Method of Mounting Small Mammals « previous next »
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Author Topic: A beginner How-To, My Method of Mounting Small Mammals  (Read 41825 times)
GravityKills
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« on: November 25, 2007, 02:58:35 PM »

A few people have asked me how I mount small animals like chipmunk, mice, etc. I am in no way a pro, but like to concider myself a good taxidermist when it comes to my little critters. I have my own method of mounting, as do many others, and I thought I would share my way with others. I know some of you more seasoned taxidermist may or may not agree with my method, but I am just hoping it would give others starting out a bit of a boost.

Bare with me, folks. This is the complete mounting of an ermine, including base/habitat from beginning to end. I started this on Thursday, and just finished it about 20 minutes ago.....

I got this ermine about 6 months ago. He has some nasty blood crusted and stained all over his head and parts of his body. I DO NOT recomend trying to scrub off the blood now. You will loosen the hair, weaken the folicles, and start slippage. These small critters are nortorious for slipping before you are done. I took the ermine out of the freezer and placed him in a small container filled with rubbing alcohol I got at the store. I left him in there until he was completely thawed.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2008, 09:43:02 AM by Ken Edwards » Logged

GravityKills
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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2007, 03:00:50 PM »

Next, I get some craft wire, I think 20 gauge. I forgot, threw away the package a while ago. I use the ermine itself to measure the length of the body, making bends in the wire marking neck to body points, and tail to body. I bend the 4 wires to match each leg.
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GravityKills
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« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2007, 03:02:21 PM »

Since this guy has the blood problem, I mixed up some Fur Bleach into a thin paste, and covered the whole body. I really caked it on around where the blood was thick.
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GravityKills
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« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2007, 03:06:04 PM »

Now, it is time to get the base ready. You cant make a custom form mount without knowing how it is going to set on your base/habitat FIRST. I have seem way too many mounts that you can tell people made before making the base. The critter is dries in ways that is appearent, feet are flat  body not matching the thing it is sitting on. I started my base while the ermine was thawing. Very simple. A $4.99 piece of habitat wood from the pet store, a piece of floral foam from WallMart, and a $0.69 piece of craft wood from WallMart.
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GravityKills
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« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2007, 03:09:16 PM »

Cut the foam in a circle, cut a hole in the foam. Glue it to the wood. I put a screw in the bottom of the wood piece, and mixed a clump of epoxy sculpt. Put the epoxy sculpt on the bottom of the wood piece, and cramed it into the hole. You could used just clay or whatever, but iI like epoxy sculpt. I can trust it will never let go of the screw, wood or anything else it sets to.
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« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2007, 03:10:35 PM »

Cover the foam with white clay, set aside for now. Now i know how to bend my wires for the legs and body to fit the wood piece.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2007, 03:58:57 PM by GravityKills » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2007, 03:12:46 PM »

Now, I skin the ermine. I leave the skull attached. I skinned down to the lips, that is the only thing holding the skull on. I wash the Fur Bleach out, wash it with some Dawn detergent. Now I cover the skin with plenty of DP.
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GravityKills
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« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2007, 03:17:02 PM »

Time to play with Epoxy Sculpt and ermine body. I shape each leg to match the real thing. Then I set the parts in a wood holder I made to let them start setting up. They will not set up completely before I mount, so be careful not to over-handle the parts. The body is also epoxy sculpt, but could be made of clay as well.
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GravityKills
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« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2007, 03:28:46 PM »

Ok, mounting time. I filled the skull with epoxy sculpt, placed the eyes. I embeded the body wire into the epoxy sculpt in the skull. Used a little hide paste along the back, and actually used some caulking in the legs. I can work the caulking down to the feet. I left the feet in, cutting at the ankles, and cutting my wires on the front feet to reach into the feet just up to the toes. The caulking was worked down to the feet, making the junction of my formed legs and the feet smooth. I poked the wires through the pads of the back feet, and cut them just long enough to poke down into the holes I drilled in the wood piece it will be climbing up. They do not need to be very long, I cut mine about 1 to 1-1/2 inch long. I wraped the other end of the wires, carefully, around the body wire and filled the body/neck with epoxy sculpt (or clay). I seal the belly incision CAREFULLY with superglue. I do not stich up these type of little critters, I found the skin is so thin and rips and tears way too eaisly. Be careful with the superglue, it will seep out of the seam and onto the hair. When you go to groom, you will find nasty rock hard hair along the belly, and nothing you can do about it. Try to smooth the hair down softly as you glue, so if it does seep out, at lest the hair will be lying down smooth and flat, not all nappy.
Once fit into the position you like, place on the wood piece to dry. DO NOT GLUE ONTO THE WOOD, just set it in the holes to dry. You will need to be able to remove it once dry and set up. Do not try to remove any loose DP or anything yet, except around the eyes, where you will need to set, as well as the mouth.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2007, 04:01:01 PM by GravityKills » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2007, 03:31:10 PM »

Though I did not get a picture of it, I set the ears flat with Play Doh. Two small balls of it, one on each side of the ear, then squished together. When it dies, it just slips off.
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GravityKills
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« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2007, 03:40:58 PM »

Ok, it is been three days. I would poke at the eyes now and then, to make sure thay dried in the proper shape. I had made the mouth closed, with the upper lips up just a bit to show the teeth. I lifted the lips during mounting, and driped a small amount of super glue under the lips/cheeks. I held it for a moment, so it dried in the placement I wanted. I got the perfect snarl, showing the front teeth.

Now I remove the whole ermine from the base. Here is the part some of the pros may bark at me about. But it has worked for me many times. Wether or not you choose to do your grooming/cleaning thisway, it is your choice.

I run cold water at a slow amount, wet the whole mount, and wash it with Woolite. I do this QUICKLY, and use a childrens soft toothbrush. The blood that was clotted around the face is gently scrubbed and picked at with a needle. The hair under seems to bleach out when I covered it with Fur Bleach, no hair is stained. I rinse with cold water. The whole washing process took about 3 - 4 minutes. Lightly, gently, towl dry, and place back on the base. I then blow dry. And, believe it or not, I use heat. I hold the blow dryer at a good distance, brushing the hair with the toothbrush. The heat is not direct, moe like it is a hot/warm wind on the mount, just getting the soaked hair dry. I then turn the blow dryer to cool, and fluff the hair directly with the tooth brush until completely dry and fluffy.
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GravityKills
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« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2007, 03:45:23 PM »

Now, I work on my base. There are many ways to finish the base, choose how you like to do it with the way/products that work for you.

I took some Mod Podge (though just about any glue would of worked just as good). I mixed in some white water based paint, some snow crrystals I had called Diamond Dust, and some water to thin it to a thin paste. I painted the mixture thick onto the base, then gave it a healthy dusting with some artifical snow I got at the hobby store.
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GravityKills
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« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2007, 03:49:36 PM »

I now mix up some two part 5 minute epoxy, CAREFULLY drip/poke some into the drilled holes with a toothpick, placed a dab on the bottom of one front foot, and placed the mount for the final time onto the base. I paint around the eyes where it needs some touch-up, around the nose and mouth, and even a little pink around the lower lip to show those upper teeth. Fluff up one last time. My mount is done. When the snow base is completely dry, I may drill some small holes and glue in some dried grasses, I am not sure yet. But it is done!
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GravityKills
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« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2007, 03:51:16 PM »

I love the little teeth showing....
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GravityKills
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« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2007, 04:08:23 PM »

Well, I really hopes this helps people. Again, I am no pro. In fact, I am still concidered a beginner. I have been doing taxidermy for just about 1-1/2 years now, I have learned from books and videos, and a lot of experiementing on my own. But by far, I have learned the most from the folks on here. Just trying to give back to the form.....

Now, anyone trying my method, I wanna see your mounts!!
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