I'm not sure how to word what I want to say here...
Basically, when did you professionals say "I'm good enough to open up a shop now"? When you were happy with your work? After you won some ribbons?
I don't just want to do taxidermy as a hobby -- I want to become a commercial gamehead and mammal mounter. I'm very serious, too. But, how should I know when I'm "good enough"? I just finished my first deer, so I definately have alot of practice to do. But I am pleased with my first mount, and I think with several things done differently, it would be as good as very many "professional" mounts I have seen.
I know I need practice, practice, practice. I have several mammals in the freezer right now to work on, but as far as deer heads, I don't see how I'm going to get enough to practice on to become good at it. I'm not a hunter so I can't go out and shoot myself a deer, and it would be pretty expensive to buy a cape and a pair of antlers every time I want to practice, you know what I mean? And I don't want to start practicing on OTHER people's deer!
I don't even know what I'm really asking here.. it's just something I've been thinking about today... (:
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go find the best shops in your state and compare your work. Then join your state assoc. go to a show or two.
Competition is the best way for you to measure your work against the other professional work that is out there. It is also one of the fastest ways to learn and improve.
Amy, Both John C and Old Fart are right. Although I have only done very limited competion.(seems like just not enough time) Go to as many shows as possible. Sit in on as many seminars as you can, this is one way of learning tons of valuable info that you can put into your work. By the way, I looked at your squirel you had on ebay and from what I saw your heading in the right direction. Keep up the good work. -Kent
Amy, Often you can get a deer head from a hunter for free if you live where there are lots of deer and meet hunters that have killed lots of deer. Just tell some of those guys you are looking for heads to practice on. Does are deer too. When I began I mounted a few deer for my cost only making it very clear that I was learning. My work was not pretty but they paid very little to get the mount done and I got that practice. Later I began charging a little for my time still making it clear trhat I was learning- some hunters will mount a deer if they can find a low price but won't pay for a "good" job.
Some taxidermists are afraid to tell you too much about how to do things but others are very free with advise and tips- visit shops and ask- you might find someone that can show you some of the things that are common mistakes.
Also, Piedmont Community College in Roxboro NC has their spring mini-course in April where you can watch some excellent taxidermists demonstrate their methods. 3 days and 5 classes are only $60. I have attended this course for several years and have learned so much from it. When you want to know if you are good enough to charge more enter a competition, not to win but to learn. The judge will show where you are on the right track as well as where you need to work harder. Looking at others' mounts will help too, the more you go to see others' work the clearer you can see your own work. When your deer look as good as most of the mounts you see at competitions and deer shows you are probably good enough to charge going rates. Your state taxidermy association exists to further this business and that means help for you. Videos, books, this web site,reference material of all kinds- it's never been easier to get answers to youir questions. Be aggresive and find what you need and you can be successful. Good luck, Aaron Honeycutt
Amy, your on the right track. Put the word out NOW that you are looking for deer to mount for the cost of materials. By the time the season rolls around you'll probably have more than you can handle. Just make it clear that you are still learning (show them the one you've already done) and when they come to pick it up and see how much you have improved tell them "thank you for the wonderful compliments but the next one is still going to cost ya full price :-) ". There you have it, the evolution of a taxidermist.
Good skill, Bill
This is not Amy, but this sounds like great advise to all of us, BEGINNERS! Thanks! Tony
Amy, You may try going to the meat markets and slaughter houses that process deer during season. If you're willing to do the skinning, they usually will let you have all you want.
amy, youve gotten some great advise listed above, but in answer to your question, "am i good enough?", well the answer to that is simple.
does your deer look real? no, not to that picture in your mind. does it look real when compared to reference material photos like those in hunting magazines or Breakthrough Magazine? you know there is a level of quality and lifelikeness that is called "commercial quality" at one end of the spectrum, and there are the ultimate mounts that you will see in Breakthrough. i personally strive to give my clients a quality somewhere in between. good luck!
Hey as for practice my husband hunt's alot email me and we will figure something out, he just disgardes of the remains all the time.Heck maby you can mount him a deer head who know's.!