White Ermine, Small Holes, & Aggravation

Submitted by Chadder Cheese on 2/21/02. ( Brntcereal@aol.com )

I just started taxidermy as a hobby about 6 weeks ago. I have a couple of questions. One is I just finished fleshing (or what I could...white ermine short tails skin is very delicate) and made a couple of extremely small holes. How can I fix these without sewing? This has happened to me before with a squirrels, especially around the face and near the feet.
My other question is I was I thinking of making my own mannikan using self hardening clay. The weasel I have is pretty small so I thought it wouldn't hurt. Will this work? Sculpt a mannikan, put the skin, etc. on before the clay is dry...sew it up and position it still before the clay is dry. Thank you for all your help.

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This response submitted by Frank E. Kotula on 2/21/02. ( basswtrout@aol.com )

You have some great ideas here and more power to ya for your insentive to to this work.

As for real small holes in the tail I don't worry to much if there that small. If it's bigger than a dime persay it needs sewing. It seams your fleshing to hard and that's rips the skin.

Now my question is what kind of clay are you going to use. If you use Roma oil base clay it will seap oil for years not good or as a matter of fact none is worth that time to sculpt and try to mount it. The clay would just go every where and the shape would be totllu lost.

Now if you want to do this with clay use the oil base clay and then make a mold out of it. If you do a great job on sculpting a company just might pick up the mold from you. Good luck on sculpting one.

Clay is not a good choice

This response submitted by George on 2/21/02. ( georoof@aol.com )

Aside from the awkwardness of the weight on such a small specimen, clay is very unforgiving. Once you have it inside, you can indent it to meet your needs, but you can't puff it up for that purpose. Also, your mount becomes a CLAY PIECE. Any kind of contact is liable to break legs off or crack the delicate hide that you're already aware of. If you can't find a suitable form, carve one out of stock foam or, as a last resort, wrap one using wood wool and string.
As for the fleshing, I have to ask, why are you fleshing it so thin? Most small game only needs the meat removed. Ermine (and by the way, ermine are always white. When they turn brown they become weasels) are extremely tough to work with. I believe that less is always better on these critters than more when it comes to hide preparation.

Hey Chad

This response submitted by Bob C on 2/21/02. ( bobswildlife@aol.com )

Where would we all be if people didn't experiment! I did a grey squirrel the way you discribed many years ago. I skinned it,left the skull attached to the skin by the lips.I rebuilt the skull first, then put a tube of clay down each leg and then slid the clay for the body. It came out terrific, and was my first blue ribbon small mammal.One thing you must be very careful of though is that it is very easy to make the body to big and long. Use the carcass as reference at all times. They are quite heavy when done, but you can add some tremendous detail through the skin. Another tip is to try not to do a standing mount. When I use this method, I usually do them in a relaxed position. Good luck and have fun experimenting. Dont let failure deter you though, not everthing will work out as planned.Use the failures as stepping stones to the top. Bob C

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