I'm a Failure

Submitted by Andy Storm on 9/21/04 at 5:16 PM. ( )

I got my results back from my PA taxidermy exam. I passed the written part, but they failed all five specimens I took.I'm usually hard on myself, but I and other people said my mounts looked good, including other taxidermists.I'm self taught, so I've been learning the hard way.Are there any excellent videos out there for doing competition mounting? I have McKenzie's Dennis Behn mounting whitetails video, which is very good. No where in the video does he show using epoxy clay to blend the septum into the nose skin like my judges said I should've done.I used the speed septum just as Mr. Behn had shown.I know without you seeing my work it's easy to think it's junk.I guess I have alot of room for improvement, but I thought I'd have a few mounts that would pass.I suck I guesss.I plan on joining the association and competing.But in the mean time what videos I could learn some comp. techniques? Thanks

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i passed this time

This response submitted by ice on 9/21/04 at 5:27 PM. ( )

i passed the state test this time don't be hard on your self just keep working on it and use lots of refence photos i'm sure you will do better next time.. like you i failed in apirl when i just got out of school so they want to see great looking mounts and they will not pass you unless the mounts are as real looking as the live animal.. keep trying never give up

Here is your problem

This response submitted by John C on 9/21/04 at 7:55 PM. ( )

"but I and other people said my mounts looked good, including other taxidermists"

If the taxidermist you ask dont know what quality looks like thats the problem.

I would think you beeing relativly inexperienced could not pass the test the first time and maybe not the second time.

The people around you that said they look good are not judges and dont know what to look for.

Ok, so join the association go to several shows, take some of your work and learn the finer points, which noone around you knows.

You cannot grab a tape and watch it then expect to pass a test or even place with a mount in the Professional division.

Look at the top those little blue words, CONVENTIONS is what you need to click on.

Not a failure

This response submitted by Paul I on 9/21/04 at 9:05 PM. ( paulblastoatyahoo.com )

Andy your not a failure.Your just one who might be rushing.Slow down a notch and listen to all the talented people who have posted answers to you in both sections.Nothing in life is easy and someday you will give the same advice to beginners.

You are not alone (warning ..long winded)

This response submitted by Bill on 9/21/04 at 10:29 PM. ( WCD123@earthlink.net )

It kind of smarts doesn't it. I am a mid 50's successful professional who has taught myself through books and practice all kinds of things......and I usually do most of them quite well. I always wanted to do taxidermy since I was a kid, not as a profession, but just as another hobby. I was surprised when I learned Penna required a license, and even more surprised when the license required a performance exam. I had never heard of such a thing for artwork. I, like you, did all the sort of things I always do when learning something new. All sorts of reading, videos, religiously following this forum, and practicing doing mounts. I foolishly compared my work to those seen in sport shops, peoples homes, and to the mounts I had professionally done for me over the last 4 years (by Pa taxidermists). I thought my stuff was at least as good if not better than those samples (and I still do). With that in mind, I took the test this April. I easily passed the written test but all of my mounts failed . The comments listed for failure seemed so overstated as compared to looking at the mounts. I was horrified.....and angry. Failure is just not something that I am not used to. After I calmed down, I took my mounts to another taxidermist who is big in the Pa testing community to try to figure out where I needed to go from there. Although I have been around domestic and wild animals all of my life, they never let me get close enough to them to see their fine facial features and subtle posturing of toes, tails, ears, etc.....I only got an overall impression. My mounts supported my impression, but not the true close-up reality. I have since been studying close up photography of these creatures and have been surprised at what I have been missing. Now I have to try to capture those little things , or these guys will not pass me. I suppose we could argue endlessly that the test is BS and is really an agenda item of the Pa game commission to limit the number of taxidermists (so they can monitor them) and I honestly believe this is true, but if my personal goal is just to learn to do taxidermy reasonably well.....this test will make me measure up. So screw the fact that they did not pass you, its not about them. It is about you trying to get better. I plan to give it a go again in April. I hope to be a lot better by then , but maybe I will still not be good enough. Sooner or later I will get there if I keep working at it and so will you. Maybe I will see you at the next test. Good luck

Andy, You're NOT A Failure!

This response submitted by Li Li on 9/22/04 at 12:14 AM. ( )

You've simply lost a battle, not a war! You WILL succeed! Don't even think of giving up! I wish you all the best! LiLi


This response submitted by Jeff F. on 9/22/04 at 1:15 AM. ( NaturesTrophies,aol )

but your first problem is YOU. Don't mope around in your pitty pot thinking you're a failure or guess what? You'll be a FAILURE. It sounds like you have the desire, so figure out what needs improving and work with it. Conventions are great! But guess what? You better be ready for LOTS of critisism competing(critiques) and you have to be willing to take it as constructive tools towards your growth. It can be frustrating, but don't give up on yourself! Best wishes. Jeff F.

Andy & Bill

This response submitted by Frank E Kotula on 9/22/04 at 6:51 AM. ( basswtrout@aol.com )

You are no way a faliure. I can understand your feeling and hope that you can do better next time. As for videos or books etc, there are many but it's hands on training that may help both of you out. Joining our association is a great way of gettin that. Many of us will help you and can show you,on your mount what you need to do to improve it. Don't let this get you down.
Bill thou I agree with you on the account that some of these mounts that are produced by licensed taxidermists are sad. For me what hurts is that they passed the test and after that, there is no control of what is produced from there. Yes our standards are raised to a higher quality to pass the state test. It's not a hard test but one that requires good sound work, (not compitition as some may think)
Also you may not get close enough to the real thing to see what there trying to tell you, there is a ton of reference products out there that will aid you in your quest on getting your license. I know it cost money but it takes money to make money, so I'm told. Good luck and if I can help out let me know.

no test needed

This response submitted by mike on 9/22/04 at 10:14 AM. ( )

Move to Nebraska, all you need to get a license is send a check for 7.00 to the state. Wamo, you are a licensed taxidermist. I wish our state had something like PA's test. I know there are alot of guys and gals out there that are going to freak, but I am tierd of the guy that comes into my shop and wants his/her head fixed because a buddy had a buddy who does taxidermy and this is what they got back. I don't mind the money, but its the time they take up to tell their story. I always tell people never to take someones word, always go and look at the quality and compare the realizum of the animal.

Andy, you will get there, and you will be proud of your self. You hard work will pay off.

It's just that easy!

This response submitted by Wally on 9/22/04 at 4:43 PM. ( muthagoose@hotmail.com )

To pass a test set by others is lame in my book..Im very glad ther are clowns out ther doing crap work...It only makes a person who is able to do a good job stand out..yep maybe people come into some shop beaching about the crap they once recieved but if you do quality it will speak for itself...
If Pa test thier taxdermist then they need to test thier scuplters,painter's and carvers.....
Oh how I love to see people bring in birds to my shop complaining how the guy down the street sucks..
Since you have to take the test practice till its second nature to ya and go slap it down..Practice will get ya there.....keep the faith!

Competition vs. Commercial

This response submitted by Haus on 9/25/04 at 11:25 PM. ( )

I started doing taxidermy this year and I'm still learning. I've got a local guy who is teaching me. As part of my lesson we went to see the local taxidermist association (oklahoma) show. There were only a few good pieces. the rest looked like total crap. Some of the realy good pieces were torn apart by the judges(figuratively). Didn't help that they ripped us off and charged us $60 each to get into the stupid thing. Anyway I've seen enough mounts in my short time at doing this to know your award winning pieces are not what your going to pump out to the public. Sure you do the best you can, but each customer is not getting a championship piece. Most customers can't even remember what the heck the aminal they broght in looked like. Just pass your test, then learn all the short cuts for commercial taxidermy. Competitions are a way to stroke your ego. Building a reputation with customers pays the bills. My apologies to all you competition guys that take offense to this. Also you may consider sending off hides for professional tanning. Gets too bad move to oklahoma, no lic.


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