I recently received three WT capes from a good customer. He turned the ears himself and really messed up. On on cape the front ear skin has been ripped off and is missing. The ears on the other two capes are also badly damaged. I don't have any spare capes to use for patches. How can I realistically repair and rebuild the front ear skin and attach hair?
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If it were me because the customer did such a hack job Id offer to find him new capes for the ones he messed up. Id charge the price of the cape shipping and just a little extra for my trouble ($10 - $20) then the price of a full mount, if it were my fault then id pay for the cape. The more you have to piece together the more likely the mount won't look like something you will want your name associated with. If he won't go for a new skin sell him a nice European mount. I hear allot of taxidermists doing a lot of piecing things together but if something happens and the seam starts to separate a little on down the road, or the new sewn on ear falls off because it was bumped just right, it makes it tough to explain to a customer why his deer has 1 ear from another deer and a big piece sewn into the hide from another deer, Even if all the things you fixed were his or her fault. Just my .02 cents worth.
There's really not much sense in trying to salvage some capes. You run into so many problems that comprimise the quality of your work that it's just not worth the hassle. You didn't say if your customer wanted these capes mounted or if they were give-aways, either way I'm sure you'll find a use for them. Maybe your cutomer will have a little more respect for what you do now. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
I agree save the capes for scrap and get a new one. Now if you are going to mount it regardless here are some options.
1 If you already have scrap capes use the ear skin from one of those. I would mount the deer let it dry and then cut the new ear skin from a doe cape or what have you and super glue the piece in and paint.
2 If the ear skin in the front is missing you can try this I never thought it looked that great but it will do better than the garbage can. Mount the deer and let it dry. Apply super glue to the inside of the ear where it is missing skin and most importantly fur. On the wet super glue stick cotton balls there and let the super glue dry. Pull the cotton balls off slowly and now you have cover hair. If you do it right you will be surprised how well it will fool people.
I'd go out and find a good, fresh roadkill and cut the ears off at the bases. Once home, I open them up and split them at the edges separating the front and back. Then I flesh the skin and tan it. Cut out the turn up side, then I trim it to fit the old ear and glue it along the edges with super glue. In the case of a repair of a damaged mount, I first stick it in place with body filler, allow to harden, then glue the edges with super glue and card for drying. I've restored mounts with this technique and it has lasted for many years with no problems.
Just prepped a deer cape yesterday that had a great cape and the tannery blew the ear out. The whole tip is going to have be sewed and patched. I cringe when it comes to ears and tanneries. Good Luck!