Well I hope this helps some people, it's kinda long, but I wanted to cover all the bases & try to answer all the questions.
While it looks like a lot to do, it really isn't. It is a drawn out process & actual leg time is 6-8 hours total to complete one, but like I said, the steps are drawn out. Tell customer minimum of 3 months for completion because alot of factors come into play including the weather temperature outside. (this one took approximately 1 month to complete)
Me personally I get $250-$400 dollars on them depending on the size and the mood i'm in when they bring them in. I typically do around 6 per year. They are easy money if you keep it simple. If I mount them on driftwood then I charge $100 more.
Well, here it is, it may not be the best way but it's my way & if it helps anybody then it has served its purpose
We will start simply by skinning the head. I drill 2 holes in the back of the horn which serves 2 purposes. #1 it makes for easy alignment when reattaching the horns....#2 it allows the water to seep into the cores which allows the flesh holding them intact to macerate (rot) much quicker.
I also flush out the brain which eliminates the grease vastly & also keeps the smell from maceration down considerably believe it or not.
I have a total of 3 troughs, 2- 450 gallon & 1- 200 gallon. I am using the 200 gallon here because there is no use in using the huge one for one job. Both horns will not fit so I leave one out, the other will rot off with in a week & by the time I get them both off the head will fit in the tub.
(for those that do not have large tubs you can use a trash can....put one side down, rot off, flip & do the same with the other.....when both cores are off you can cut approximately 1 foot off each side of bone & fit the skull in the trash can)
After 1 week of soaking I take a hammer & litterally knock the horn off the core YOU WILL NOT HURT THE HORN THIS WAY!!!
Now submerge the other horn for a week.....(if I had used the 450 gallon trough I would have done both at the same time, but as I said there was no use in doing that to me)
When you get the horns off, cut all the white translucent (soft) material off the horn....if you leave it on all it will do is curl up & crack & make the finished product look unprofessional.
I then rinse the horn and then swish around rubbing alcohol inside and then coat the entire inside with dry preservative & put away to dry.
The next week I go back & repeat the procedure, knock the other horn off with a hammer, trim all white translucent material off the horn
Now, after removing the horns off I leave the skull in the trough for a week or two depending on the temperature....the hotter the temp is the quicker the meat will macerate & become soft. This is what the head looked like after 2 weeks & was ready to be power washed
Power wash the heck out of the head, A COW SKULL IS TOUGH...it can take it. These are the pics during and after to show the results.
Use your hands if you must to push the eye meat out....hey, it's gross......but it's money
cut approximately 6-12 inches off the core & allow to dry for a week.....put out in the sun as much as possible.....after a week of good drying all smell should have disipated
After it has dried, it is time to bleach. I use 40 volume developer with great results after mixed with basic white powder. Mix it to a milk shake consistency & DO NOT DILLUTE!!! Also I have read where people reccomend all kinds of other products besides basic white powder to mix the developer with.....THAT IS FALSE!! Basic white powder causes a chemical reaction that will considerably effect how white your skulls become. ALSO!! HEAT!! Very important!! Yes light does help whiten, but heat is the #1 factor!! Let me ask a question, you ever seen a lady at the beauty shop sitting under a light when she is getting highlights in her hair NO You see her under a dryer with HEAT!! That is what will cause your reaction with the 40 volume developer & your Basic white developing powder is HEAT!!
Start by mixing your two products
Use gloves when doing all of these steps, this stuff will burn like fire!! Completely paint on your milk shake consistency mix of 40 volume developer & basic white powder. Make sure you are in a WELL VENTILATED AREA.....the smell is caustic & irritating. After ALL bone matter has been covered in the mix, wrap the skull up in cellophane & put in the sun or the warmest place possible. Be careful of gas heat because they will melt the cellophane. Leave wrapped for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, unwrap & wash off skull VERY well. Leave to completely dry for another minimum of 24 hours.
Somewhere in between, collect all the teeth from the trough, mix in the bowl with the left over bleach mixture....let set & then rinse until ready to be set in skull.
Now after everything has dried, it's time to reattach the horns. Get you a pot of very hot water (not boiling) but scalding hot & soak your horns for 5-10 minutes. In the mean time mix you some bondo very light on the hardener. You want the skull at room temperature & the horns hot as heck,,,,,this allows for expansion of the horns so they will slide on easily. If you try to attackh with out heating, you will NEVER get them into their original position.
BEWARE!! When you slide the horns on, do not mess around!!! The heat from the horns will cause the Bondos chemical reaction to speed up...hence it will set 5 times quicker than normal!!
Getting water ready..
Notice water IS NOT boiling!! But it is VERY hot!!
Your skull & Bondo is ready
Slide the horns on and hit with a hammer until they allign perfectly with the holes you drilled in the beginning
Fill in holes with bondo & sand down
Using regular paint, blend & brush on sanded contoured bondo & the holes are completely non existent
Now a biggie!!! Alot of people say you NEVER use paint on a skull......I say you never let a skull look like it has paint on it!!! We are to make the skull look as perfect as possible, if that involves paint then so be it....my customers are paying me, not my critics.
Now, nothing looks worse on a skull then if it looks
like it has been painted. How do you avoid that??? You make it look like it has not been painted
I used to use an airbrush, but I have found a miracle spray in a can. It is the dirt cheapest piece of crap flat paint that Dollar General sells.....it's around a $1 per can. LIGHTLY spray this around the teeth area....LIGHTLY, we do not want a painted look!!! Around the teeth area there is generally yellow that will not disipate with bleaching & we want that covered.
(just a note: Do not try & paint with any type of good
spray paint, it will show......this cheap Dollar General paint will soak in & even with scraping you will not notice paint. Good paint even Wal Mart brand is noticeable. The CHEAPEST Dollar General flat is the ONLY one I have found that will give this effect. If you do not have access to this type of paint, use an airbrush!! You do not want ANY noticeable paint job on a skull, I cannot stress that enough!!
Only spray around porous tooth area if there is still yellow.
Now re-glue the teeth.....I use 2 part plastic weld epoxy
If no driftwood is to be used, PRE DRILL holes for your hanger. Use self threading torx screws, not sheet rock screws.....they will break. You must pre drill the correct size or your bone will crack causing the skull to possibly fall from hanger
(you may cover the screws with all game if you like)
This Longhorn had a nose ring which I chose to reattach
Clean the horns veryv well & use a matte finish laquer to seal
This is the results you will wind up with...........................