I have a turkey that a guy wants me to do like a rug. He gave it to me all skined out from the tail with the wings to were the neck meets the skin. Never done one of these. Were do I start? How do I go at this? Do you use a mating in the back like a bear rug? Thank you for any help and advice.
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As a wildlife artist, I keep a lot of skins around for reference. Most of the waterfowl skins are mounted flat with one wing folded and one extended. I bring the neckwire out the mouth and form a loop to hang the skin by. Large birds like the turkey are kept flat with only one wing attached for reference.
The anatomy of the bird and the size of the secondary flight feathers would preclude using the skin and feathers that would lie under the wing, I suppose. You might be able to split the neck wattles in order to display them on both sides of the flat skin. The neck pterafiles would have to be coped with, and divided to each side. the breast and flank feathers would not be of much aesthetic use for the mount. I would suppose the wings could be folded a bit to display all flight feathers at the mid point. The rump and tail could be arranged in a typical fan. The end result would be a nice wall rug.
The skin could be pinned down around the egdges as with any other skin, but stretching would probably cause problems with the arrangement of feathering. I would think that after proper treatment and preservation of the skin, a backing material could be sandwiched between the skin and felt and the whole thing sewn together. I have a number of bird skins arranged that way for flat storage to be used when needed for painting or sculpting reference.
I would think the head could be artificial and the neck skinned, scraped and the wattles filled with carved foam or other material to indicate fullness. When completed, the head would lie along the plane and the neck insert of foam would taper to the surface, with the wattling extending on each side in high relief. If it is to be a wall hanging, a piece of thin plywood could be arranged to support neck, wings and tail wire to give the finished piece structural integrity, the plywood lying between the skin and the matting.
The wings could be affixed with a wire wrapped around and extended from the humorus and then stapled to the plywood on each side. The femur could be similarily treated and attached to the same plywood, as could a tail wire. The wings have some weight and substance, and the wood/wire armature would allow for a much stronger arrangement.
A thin foam shell could be formed to give dimension to the neck, cape, back and rump.
If you email me, I will prepare and send a diagram to give graphic dimension to the above text. There may be another response that would deal with preparation of the skin in much more detail. The flat skin mounts I have on hand were all prepared with borax and are kept in mothballs, since I use them for reference and replace them from time to time, as better examples are obtained.
I consider turkey "rugs" to be a pain, but people keep wanting them anyway, so this is what I do.
Keep in mind that they aren't really rugs, of course, because the skins are brittle and fragile. I don't include the feet or beard as part of the rug because they don't look good. Since I charge as much for a "rug" as for a dead mount, I include the beard and spurs on a small separate panel.
The main skin from head to tail is cleaned and prepared as usual. I remove the under tail coverts and the smaller belly feathers, legs, etc. Spread the skin out and fan the tail, wings, body plumage, etc. until you like the shape. Pin into place until dry. I usually have a roughly diamond-shaped piece of light plywood behind the skin with the wing wires stapled to it much as Bill described. I also use bondo to fan the tail. A wire imbedded in that bondo is also stapled to the plywood. The extended part of the diamond supports the head. I usually just turn it to a profile and use a standard standing pose head, but that can be done lots of ways.
Padding and backing is up to you. It won't show much unless you make it extend past the wings and tail all the way around. For those I use foamboard glued to the plywood to save weight, and then it can have a felt trim just like a bear rug.
I hope this is helpfull. There area lot of ways to tackle a turkey!