tips on giving my duck mounts that smooth look

Submitted by Justin Milligan on 11/12/2003. ( )

I have done about 12 ducks or so and a few of them don't have that natural. It's mostly the feathers on the keel, they look realy rough and he feathers on the back have some down comming through. I don't know if i need to do something different in certain phase of mounting or just need some help on finishing. HELP!

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This response submitted by Jim on 11/12/2003. ( )

Assuming you got the skin clean and degreased and you dried the feathers completely before mounting, sounds like you need to groom your mounts... Grooming is simple. I use a pair of tweezers and a fan type artists brush. After the mount is assembled and carded, I use a pair of tweezers to getly lift and place individual feathers where I want them. On the belly, I use the forceps or a needle tool and backbrush the feathers until they lay right. On the head, I use the fan brush to backbrush the feathers until they lay right. After the mount is dry, I go over the bird again with the same procedure. To cover any down showing, I lift the feathers with tweezers and place them so they cover the down. Hope this helps!

other possible reasons

This response submitted by jon on 11/12/2003. ( )

To add to what Jim said, these problems could also be associated with incorrect body anatomy/size. If your form is too big it will cause the feathers on the back to lay unaturally and allow the down to show through. I find this to be the case if the body is too wide in the shoulder area. A proper size body should allow free movement of all feather tracts and there should be nowhere that is tight before sewing begins. I would personally always lean towards a body that is too small vs one that seems to fit just right. As far as the keel, check your sewing job. If the skin isn't pulled taught together then this can happen as well. If all these are correct, then I'd say that your wash job is not complete. Either you're leaving grease on the feathers, or you're not drying the feathers completely.
I will usually dry my bird completely before assembly, then after assembly but before posing, I will hit it again with warm air, or compressed air. This will fluff everything up again for grooming. Take care to keep heat away from the facial regions as this will cause the eyes to dry and cause problems farther down the road.

If the bird is clean, dry and you have choosen a correct size body, then the feathers should just automatically fall into their correct positions for the most part. Obviously you will still have to groom and pin, but the skin and the feathers themselves will do most of the work for you.


Bird Anatomy

This response submitted by Tony Finazzo on 11/13/2003. ( )

If the feather groups are not in the correct place, no amount of grooming will make it correct. Grooming is on the surface and the base underneath has to be correct. One other thing that makes grooming difficult is not completely drying the feathers.

Are the skins drying out too fast?

This response submitted by Nancy M. on 11/13/2003. ( )

That is one other possibility that could cause what you describe. If the skins are getting dry, dab the insides with water before you sew them up.
The most likely reason is still likely to be improper de-fatting or incomplete washing/rinsing. It takes more than 12 ducks to figure out all of the weird things that can go wrong with bird taxidermy.

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