A Teaching Essay on Mounting a Largemouth Bass...
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Rick Krane
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« on: January 17, 2008, 11:22:55 AM »

I want to take a few moments and share with you the experience of a taxidermist in training. I have posted Essays over the past few years on different aspects of fish taxidermy in the training section featuring the folks who come here to learn with me. So for those who have read Essays in the Training section and the for those who have not this is a pictorial essay of a gentleman Mr. Travis Jones of Seaboard, North Carolina who spent a week with me learning new and different ways of several different aspects of fish taxidermy.

When a person makes a decision to better understand and to learn some thing new they have made a commitment to a goal that will help them see fish taxidermy differently to advance their skills and over all enjoyment. From little experience in what they have done before or to the most seasoned Taxidermist it all starts with goals and a plan to implement the strategies to achieve the goals! For Travis Jones this was to drive from North Carolina making the 1000-mile journey to New Hampshire.
My Grandfather taught me learning is like building blocks to a foundation. A good foundation will open the doors to seeing techniques differently and allows someone motivated the opportunity to build upon them to take their new skills from what they learn and construct many more goals with motivation and technique to better fish work.

I wanted to share Traviss experience with you because this essay theme is on the most common of all the fish most of us mount for customers a Largemouth Bass. This essay covers some aspects of skinning and head preparation, carving and mounting for an open mouth open gill on a skin Largemouth Bass mount.

Essay The Mounting of a Largemouth Bass with Mr. Travis Jones

The Goal: Mr. Travis Jones of Seaboard, North Carolina wanted to learn how hone his personal skills to better mount a Largemouth Bass with open mouth and gill. As the Largemouth Bass being one of if not the most common of all mounts we provided as a fish taxidermy service we will look at some options an techniques to make this service a simple and rewarding venture. Many of the fish we prepare to mount at Anglers Artistry for commercial or as teaching specimens are prepared using combinations of cast parts including heads and fins. In some cases the use of real parts service best when it is just planned with practical methods and cost effectiveness weighed in to the equation of the decision. It is just part of being a taxidermist today that we make the decisions what is the best plan of action IE in some cases it is just as fast to make a mold and cast a head then to use a real one. Even with the freshest of fish heads you will always have inherent shrinkage that will need to be addressed so dont be under the illusion that casting is a done deal. In this case a real or traditional taxidermy methodology was needed to address Travis goal.

Travis and I talked about closed gill/open mouth Bass or a closed gill/closed mouth bass a mold and cast method works very well and is often the method of choice we teach however in this case we weighed time and materials in to the fold and looked at the task to properly mold a open mouth/gill head of a Bass. We would spend some serious time and cost to achieve this outcome to achieve the mold of a complete head in side and out including the gill basket and gills The method we choose after examining all bases on what was practical from an every day standpoint.
Not to sound controversial in any way or to say one way is better or worse then another but we must address options based on time, skill and profit. In some cases as it is for the full time professional taxidermist 40, 60 hours of work, or in some cases even a longer period of time is given to complete the task of mounting and finishing a fish. This is fine after all if your goal is strictly to learn how to do one thing well for one sole purpose. This is part of what makes the decisions for what direction an aspiring fish taxidermist take when learning.  Travis goal is to be a well-rounded taxidermist in the discipline of fish work.

The first thing we covered is weighing out time and technique for the option of procedure. A properly rebuilt head can look outstanding if one understands what shrinks and what needs to be addressed. Lets face it we as professional taxidermist dont get 100% of the time perfect fresh specimens of fish to work with so it is a tremendous advantage to a taxidermist who intends to do traditional skin mounted fish to learn proper reconstruction and traditional taxidermy skills to profit and work in a an efficient and timely manor. Limitations are what we put on our self by not fully diversifying our own knowledge and recourse at our fingertips! On to Travis and the Bass!

Travis day began with a rare New Hampshire warm winter morning; Rested after a long drive from North Carolina Travis was ready to go!

The game plan takes shape! Travis and I go over what his goals are for the Bass. We talked over options and procedures for what to expect and how we were to approach the steps to this fish mounting.

The first and equally the most important step is an accurate template with plenty of notes and solid reference points to assure a true fit.

Travis and I decided to remove the head as the method to best fit our time lines and goals for this open mouth/ open gill Bass mount. The head is first removed. Measurements are taken to assure Key reference.

One of the coolest part of being a teacher is you get to play with prototype batches of new products. The next step is to fill the cheek section and have it cure in about 5 minutes with a new product we are helping to develop from Epo-Grip.

The head is positioned and prepared to dry. The mouth and Branchiostegal rays are open correctly to accommodate a fish in a breathing cycle. This is the time where we talk and discuses the open mouth. So often we as taxidermist open a mouth with out giving thought to the Why question. I feel it is important to have a basic understanding to mouth position in relation to gill flap openings. Open them and make them functional too!

The next step is to position and set the gill basket. The cuts are made at the vulmor connection and at the tongue base. Once pre-set the gill unit is semi frozen and then permanently set. This is an aspect where molding and casting can come in to place for competition mounts!

Skinning with lots of Borax is key. A dry fish doesnt loose many scales.

The paired fins are removed and the head gone the skin will suffer less trauma from scraping and pulling with a head in place. Big time saver!

A nice clean skin ready for a degreasing solution.

AHHH! Some of the daily visitors over Travis shoulder! They are big Fish Taxidermy fans too!

Cutting out the temple is also another time you can go over and make any needed corrections to the template.

We next cover body movement and how a fish uses hydrodynamic pressure to displace water. The movement of the body is so important to positions and an accurate fish. Fish are not bi-lateral in the regards that a curled or concave muscle is shorter and denser then a convex elongated muscle. This must be factored in to achieve a perfect fit.

Foam cutting time. The body begins!

With the price of foam today be efficient with your foam and template relations.

We now have our first basic shape. The body takes shape from primitive form and refinement is in each step until it is complete and ready for a fit.

Quarter cuts are first to create shape.

Rasping and shaping are next to refine the cut shapes.

Refines sanding is the next step. This smoothes the body shape and removes foam in the most refined way.

We now test fit the head and remove and foam to make the reference point come together.

Once fitted the head is marked to assure placement and balance.

Travis begins to work the flow! A hydrodynamic grid is used to assure fit.

The fish is regionally sectioned to incorporate balance in symmetry this way each body is virtually a balanced 360-degree fit no matter what kind of incision.

Final soft sanding to remove and unwanted lines or imperfections.

The body is once again grid check for bi-symmetrical balance of movement.

Show time!

No gaps are here on the test fit! There is almost nothing more rewarding to have a fish skin just form it self into place with out struggle or complications.

Head test for fit and on to the mounting!

Moisture is removed and we once again check for any issues.

Locking down the key reference point that we established in the first steps of template drawing.

Fin positioning and attitude will be incorporated now.

Fins carded to dry.

The fish is now set aside to dry for a few days.

Completely dry we ready for epoxy work.

All epoxy work is done at this time!

Eye setting and minor head prep is done at this time to prepare for headwork.

Eye orbit plate is rebuilt at this time.

The inside covers of the head can now be painted and fully detailed with airbrush and powder work.

The gill unit is also painted and completely detailed before head placement to the body. We used Epo-Grip Fin Magic as glue. It also allows you to blend in the transition. This means a completed mouth interior finished. How neat is that!

A test fit and then the foam is rebuilt and painted before the attachment of the head. Done deal!

The head is attached and balanced to assure correct positions at this step!

A very happy Travis! Cool Fish too!

Soft tissue shrinkage work is done to rebuild the needed areas. References are used as well as cast aid this step.

This concludes the mounting of a Largemouth Bass with Travis Jones! I have to add that Travis was a very motivated and focused taxidermist. A true gentleman for sure! Travis and his family love to fish the costs of North Carolina. His Son who just turned 3 has a strong interest in Dads fish work who knows he could be the next Jones to carry on the fish taxidermy legacy in the family. I sure hope this helped in some way and it was fun to share mounting a fish and the talent of Mr. Travis Jones! Oh one more picture of Travis trip to Beautiful New Hampshire (winter version!)

My Best to you! Any questions drop me a line!
Your friend!
Rick Krane
Anglers Artistry
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Becky P
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« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2008, 11:30:24 AM »

Awesome! Thank you Thank you Thank you.

I will be trying this on my next fish.
This will work for crappie too???
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Brian W
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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2008, 12:00:23 PM »

Rick,
        Excellent series of steps with awesome results. Do you use any hide paste in this mount? Thanks for taking the time to post all that material. You live in a beautiful area.
        Travis, your results are great and you're learning from the best. Good job!!
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shaneb
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« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2008, 12:17:30 PM »

Good workTravis. I know rick is a masterful teacher, but you can also tell theres alot of talent there on travis's end.
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Kerby Ross
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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2008, 01:37:36 PM »

Thanks Rick for posting that...already learned a few more things!

:)

Kerby...
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Jimmy Lawrence
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« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2008, 01:42:33 PM »

Man!!!!   OUTSTANDING TUTORIAL!!  People are so lucky that such a great teacher is sharing his knowledge in a "step-by-step" manner!  I know it will help tons of people out!!  I am sooooo jealous!  I really can't wait to get up there now!!  The shop looks awesome!  A far cry from the place I was slaving away in last January!!  Did I catch a Jimmy Lawrence Steelhead picture up on the wall???LOL, looks great, and its nice to see the familar pictures of my journey!  Can't wait to do it all again.  GREAT JOB, GREAT WORK, AND GREAT TEACHING!
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BigSwede
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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2008, 02:04:29 PM »

THANK YOU for sharing this, very instructive!!

BigSwede
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Red stag
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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2008, 02:26:27 PM »

Thanks so much Rick  :) Allways something new to pick up! New Hampshire are so nice.
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Billw
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« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2008, 02:31:17 PM »

Great job Travis you learned from the best! Thanks for sharing Rick.   Bill W
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2008, 02:41:24 PM »

travis,  very nice.      rick,  thank you
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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2008, 03:44:05 PM »

Travis great bass. It brings back memoies. Things rick said will keep popping in to your head
Thank you both for sharing.
Tax101
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Cecil
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« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2008, 08:24:20 PM »

Rick that was outstanding. I can appreciate the time it took to type that out and post all those pictures.

I see you're not slacking on those basic training haircuts either!  ;)
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« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2008, 08:41:23 PM »

Hey Rick "That was easy"  ;) ;) ;) Ive got the same button. Thanks for the post, its a great help.
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Travis
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« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2008, 09:20:51 PM »

Awesome essay Rick!!!!! Travis, by the looks of the photos you had a great time with Rick and learned a ton. That bass looks truly awesome! How rewarding for both teacher and student!
Rick, the shop looks great! Thank you for taking the time to share with everyone!
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Kevin Birznieks
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« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2008, 09:58:42 PM »

Thanks Rick.  That was excellent!
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