Hello Everyone, I know just the "title" of this wingtip will probably cause "controversy" BUT the fact is I DO believe in using gas to pull water-grease and body fluids from my properly washed bird skins. Lets leave the opinions on whether or not YOU believe it is necessary for another thread, You can use the search button for the latest argument thread on "gassing" or not if you want
I photographed the few tips on this subject some time ago, Recently my Iranian friend Babak PMed me and asked for some advice and I promised a "wingtip" on the subject so here goes:
Like I said I do believe in utilizing the use of GAS to remove the fluids from the bird skin, It is a HUGE time saver for me to put my two bird skins in the gas while I am working on "prep" work such as wrapping bodies-painting heads-bases Etc.. The OUTLINE below is the Method and "WAY" I gas and dry my bird skins.
#1 After PROPER degreasing by scissors and Wheel the bird skin gets thoroughly washed and rinsed. There have been tutorials on the proper washing methods posted before so I wont elaborate much on that topic, just understand that the skin needs to be washed and rinsed VERY well!!
#2 Once the skin has been pulled from the last rinse I simply "wring/squeeze" all the water from the plumage. Take care at this stage to keep from tearing the skin as the weight of the waterlogged plumage/skin alone can cause tender skins to tear when lifting them from the sink. GENTLY squeeze the water from the skin.
#3 OK now you have a wet bird skin ready to "gas" When using the term Gas I mean White gas- commonly called "Coleman fluid", George has also named Naphtha as a "white gas" as a cheaper derivative but I have not taken the time to look for it, Mineral spirits- Odorless and regular ,I have used with Great results,Lacquer thinner or acetone- I personally have used these BUT don't like the "dries to fast" effect, And then of course just plain gas from the pump..IE> the kind you put in your car. I have personally used every one mentioned here and they all work, Some have higher "flash points" than others and I am not even going to go into the safety issues involved in using fuels for this purpose. JUST PLEASE USE COMMON SENSE!!
We ALL have it use it!
Wear proper protective gear gloves etc. Gas outside if possible and always be aware that you are dealing/using something that can be very dangerous. Ventilation if indoors is aMUST!! Enough said about that as there are plenty of threads on the topic both for and against.
#4 OK now that we understand the term "GAS" here is the next step. I lay the bird skin on a wire rack that elevates the skin about 3/4 of an inch or more off the bottom of the container used for gassing. I simply took a rubber/plastic coated fridge shelve, cut it to fit in my container, elevated it with a piece of 1x4 off the bottom of the container and you simply lay the skin on top of the shelve. I have found that in doing this the fluids that are being displaced by the gas settle to the bottom and in doing this the skin does not lay in its own "muck". Pour your gas of choice over the skin until its fully submerged and with gloves on "roll and agitate
the skin while its covered in gas.
#5 I usually let the skin soak for 15 minutes or more, sometimes overnight depending on the time of year. Once the gas has pulled what we want from the skin you can do two things. You can lift the shelve up out of the gas and lay it on the edges of your container to allow the skin to drip OR if your always on a "schedule" or in a hurry like I seem to be simply once again "wring" the gas out of the skin back into your container...Remember your gloves!
#6 At this point I pour my gas out of the container and back into my SEALED 5 gal. bucket. The next time I use it I simply pour off the gas and leave all the"gunk" to be disposed of, a small bit of gas is lost with every bird BUT I keep adding new gas as the volume gets low. You can Gas a lot of bird skins using a gallon of gas. My 5 gal. bucket always has 4 gallons ready to be used. Some people don't like to keep "recycling" their gas and that does have its merits, Using "fresh" gas on upland and other types of birds is not a bad idea BUT generally the gas gets used from bird to bird with no ill effects.
#7 OK now we have "gassed" our bird skin. I used to just damp the skin between two towels and into the tumbler.... NOW I have utilized Mother Nature to help me out with this drying process. I simply took a wire and made a "clothesline" if you will. Just strung a wire up from point a-b in the front of my studio where the best breeze was. I then hung the big black paper clips as you will see in the photos from that wire. Now I simply take the gassed skin and "CLIP" the shank of the birds leg with the clip. On really large birds such as swans and turkeys I twist a small gauge wire around the leg to support the skin.Let the skin "hang in the breeze" while you are getting wires cut,preparing bases or whatever, Just use this time to your advantage. PLAN it out that way. Its amazing how quickly a gassed skins plumage will dry in this manner, Use this time to your advantage.
#8 DRYING the skin. OK now take your skin down from the clothesline, bring it inside. At this point I invert the wings leg and neck and give the flesh side a good dusting of borax which aids in removing/absorbing any remaining body fluids. Re invert the wings-legs-neck back and at this point there are SEVERAL options. You can take your air pressure and "fluff" the plumage up, finishing it off with the hair dryer or shop vac OR Put the skin in the tumbler and tumble it for a few minutes then fluff it with your choice of air pressures. I tumble for just a couple minutes,then blow the grit out with a master blaster and then a final "fluffing" with the hair dryer and
That's it!!!!! Feels like I wrote a book
The Method is very easy and is probably a "standard" with most bird taxidermist.Perhaps a few of the "new guys" can use the info. I am sure there are variations of much of the above.it up.Thanks and GOOD LUCK Feel free to add to it. I hope the following photos "help" out with the understanding of what I wrote.
I have promised to do a "detachable Peacock train" tutorial for some time now to several people who have PMed me on the subject. It will be the next "Wingtip" as it is photographed and I just need the time to sit and write it out.