Artificial Salmon head problem

Submitted by Bill on 9/14/04 at 2:23 PM. ( )

Tried my first chinook and blew it on molding the head with alginate method used on my video. I used up all the alginate I had so I thought I would make another at a later date. So I cut the head off and froze and ordered Museum Quality Taxidermy by Ralph Morrill. So I mounted the skin which turned out good and got the head out of the freezer and made another head. The book was excellant and the head turned out good. When I went to put on body it is like it shrunk about and inch from top to bottom. I saved the head and am going to try again but am wondering if they do shrink or I just didn't spread the gills right or what? Glad this is my own fish in case it needs to be sacrificed.

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I'm not sure how...

This response submitted by marty on 9/14/04 at 3:32 PM. ( ) could be off by that much. I have some ideas though. Are you using a commercial mannikin? Or perhaps you carved the body (took tracing) with the gills very flared? (pushing down on the tongue). Which would cause the lower jaw to drop considerably. Or most probable is you carved the mouth opening too high or too low. This would force the head into the wrong position.

I don't flare the gills much at all when casting a head. And I carve my own bodies with an original tracing. If you position both the way you took the tracing then there shouldn't be a problem. Assuming you carved the mouth in the correct position.

In the future I would recommend casting your head first or in tandem with carving the body. Then BEFORE taxi-ing on the skin check the body on the cast head for proper fit-up and adjust if necessary. It's pretty hard to adjust the mannikin once the skin is on. I've NEVER had a bad fit with casting my own heads and carving my own bodies. But I've always checked the fit-up BEFORE mounting the skin...

Actually Bill...

This response submitted by marty on 9/14/04 at 3:37 PM. ( )

I think I mis-read your post. IF the fish head is off an inch (1/2 inch top AND bottom) BOTH on the top and the bottom, (ie: it's too small overall) then the only answer is the body is not the proper fit. The head is not going to "shrink". So somehow or another you were off a fair amount with the taxi-ing process.

FYI, the beauty of a cast head is not only in the detail. But it should fit PERFECTLY - IF the body was done correctly...


This response submitted by Bill on 9/14/04 at 5:59 PM. ( )

I carved the body from a tracing and am thinking maybe the mouth was flared to far when I traced it. At least I can rule out any shrinkage. This is also by far the largest fish I have tried and maybe I miscarved the body. I wanted to have the head ready when I started but my first try with alginate was frustrating to say the least but I learned a ton so it was not a total loss. The good part is the Salmon are here and hitting well so I can get some more.

The mount may be salvageable...

This response submitted by marty on 9/14/04 at 9:31 PM. ( )

...If the head is clearly not going to fit now then you could try to order a Leech head that's a size or two bigger and "backfit" the mount to the new head. It's hard to say though because I can't see your carved body to try to isolate what went wrong. It may look funny with a head too big. And, it may end up being more trouble than it's worth? Especially since you've already (seemed) to have chalked this one up to a learning experience! If you're fairly new to fish taxidermy, you may wish to set aside this problem. Then you can practice, practice, practice anew. Then, years from now you could pull this fish out and look at it and determine what went wrong. And perhaps it then would be a challenge/learning experience to attempt to fish.

Wrap up the head well and stick it in the freezer and forget about it for now...

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