Sunday Morning Questions...Part 18!

Submitted by Rick Krane on 6/25/06 at 1:05 AM. ( rmkinc1@msn.com ) 70.109.136.89

Good Sunday Morning! A good week for all I hope! This week we are back to fish questions. So for all the fish heads out there have at it!

Last week we had 5 new contributors and a total of 26 contributions in all. In the past several weeks many suggestions have come in recommending this or that as a way to share more knowledge with all who read or contribute here. What I have come up with is a weekly suggestion box (my email).

You can write in what you would like to read as a question or a topic you would like to see covered by our most excellent contributors. Lets see how much more we can give back to each other even more useful and beneficial information!

So with out further ado! Lets Get the morning stared to a new week with some fish/ taxidermy talk! WOW week # 18 and it still is going strong! The good people at WASCO give us the free opportunity here to share information so we can be better-informed taxidermist! So in the spirit of WASCO generosity we share freely with each other!
Well here this weeks food for thought is so have at it!

1.)Per inch or per pound, why are we using these methods of charging as a standard today? Which one do you use and which on is best for you?

2.)Reproduction heads for warm water fish, do you use them over a real head? What do you tell a customer if he wants an open gill mount if you're only using an artificial head?

3.)Do you have a minimum charge for small fish? How many do you do per year?

4.)Are fish a means to add a dimension of revenue for your taxidermy or do you find fish the most enjoyable part of your work? What are your thoughts on fish taxidermy?

5.)What are the characteristic differences between Char and Trout? List as many as you can think of?

6.)What are the inherent difficulties with the esox species and how do you over come them?

7.)Warm water fish, Bought body or hand carved? Advantages and disadvantages to how you go about this task?

8.)Single action or double action airbrush, which one do you use the most and why? What are the advantages and disadvantages to your choice?

9.)A customer brings you a fish with a bad set of fins to either cast or use the real ones, you need to deal with this problem. How do you handle this and do you charge extra for your additional work, how much more do you charge?

Bonus
10.)Do you compromise taxidermy as a service over the use of reproduction parts which may limit you to not being able to offer or complete a service that could be done in the traditional taxidermy methods?

Give it a shot!
Any one who emails me personally with the answers will get a few free reference photos from my personal collection. I still want you to answer here so other can benefit form your input on this topic line.
It is all because of you and your awesome replies this has become so successful!

From beginners to the seasoned pro's every one contributes and all benefit from your great experiences! Let see if I we can get more responses on the forum as well as in my email. I will give you some free fish reference photos for the asking just for contributing! As always I just think your answers are so good more and more contribute on here for all see!

My Best and have fun with this!

Rick Krane
Anglers Artistry
312 Chesterfield Rd
Hinsdale, NH 03451
603.336.7296

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Ahhhh Sunday's wake up

This response submitted by Frank E Kotula on 6/25/06 at 7:01 AM. ( basswtrout@msn.com ) 72.70.219.41

.)Per inch or per pound, why are we using these methods of charging as a standard today? Which one do you use and which on is best for you?
Per inch. I can only figure that's its been here since who knows and truly it's they way I was taught

2.)Reproduction heads for warm water fish, do you use them over a real head? What do you tell a customer if he wants an open gill mount if you're only using an artificial head?
Repro heads and I make my heads to what the clients want and the more they want the more I charge.

3.)Do you have a minimum charge for small fish? How many do you do per year?
Yes it's $200.00 no matter how small. About three.

4.)Are fish a means to add a dimension of revenue for your taxidermy or do you find fish the most enjoyable part of your work? What are your thoughts on fish taxidermy?
I enjoy doing fish but it's a brain worker. I'm always trying out different ways of painting etc. Fish and birds are what I like doing besides the deer.
Fish taxidermy is still behind in the times. Folks still don't care what it looks like, the way it's mounted and the cost. If you compare this to doing turkeys and deer you can see the difference. It's still a throphy no matter what. So why don't you treat it that way and charge them for it.


5.)What are the characteristic differences between Char and Trout? List as many as you can think of?
Scales off hand that's all. It's early can't think to well.

6.)What are the inherent difficulties with the esox species and how do you over come them?
Being there scales are a bit different and they hold water much more you have to do one or two different things to them. I use a roller on them to get the water out from the underlying scales. Also it's a must to cast the heads to prevent all that shrinkage to them.

7.)Warm water fish, Bought body or hand carved? Advantages and disadvantages to how you go about this task?
Hand carved. No disavantage unless you ran out of foam and need more. It's all advantages to carving your own. It's a true fit to the body.

8.)Single action or double action airbrush, which one do you use the most and why? What are the advantages and disadvantages to your choice?
Double action = total control. It's like being the Mafia or the Game Commision nothing but control.
As for a single action there is no real control and there's no quality in them. Sorry buty I have them and used them and I only use them to lay my base coats only. They are what they are CHEAP !

9.)A customer brings you a fish with a bad set of fins to either cast or use the real ones, you need to deal with this problem. How do you handle this and do you charge extra for your additional work, how much more do you charge?
I will talk with the client and find out what they want. If they want the real ones then I cast what he has there, if not and the client wants them to be replaced? Well no problem and no extra charge. I have plenty of molds and will replace them. Heck it's nicer doing it that way for I save time on casting the bad fins.

Bonus
10.)Do you compromise taxidermy as a service over the use of reproduction parts which may limit you to not being able to offer or complete a service that could be done in the traditional taxidermy methods?
No, always give them what they would like to have but charge for the extra's. It's a must !


shoot i guess ill take second

This response submitted by tre on 6/25/06 at 9:33 AM. ( travro@aol.com ) 205.188.116.11

1.)Per inch or per pound, why are we using these methods of charging as a standard today? Which one do you use and which on is best for you?
1.)per inch ..seems to be the method most common used and taught
2.)Reproduction heads for warm water fish, do you use them over a real head? What do you tell a customer if he wants an open gill mount if you're only using an artificial head?
2.)i would use a real head on a warm water mount cant see the reason for not using a real head on a warm water fish...
3.)Do you have a minimum charge for small fish? How many do you do per year?
3.)havent really got to this point of the game but i cant see turning any small fish a way ..a tropohy is a trophy..its all in the eyes of the beholder..for example..my grandmother brought me a 15 inch bass...she thought it was a monster..lol her first bass ever!
4.)Are fish a means to add a dimension of revenue for your taxidermy or do you find fish the most enjoyable part of your work? What are your thoughts on fish taxidermy?
4.)fish is a most for me..its a long hard road to really recrate these the way they were..i have struggled with fish trying to learn them for a year and a half ..and through all the trial and error and
i learn something each time..yes i enjoy doing fish although im sure i will enjoy doing them alot more after sept...wink.wink
5.)What are the characteristic differences between Char and Trout? List as many as you can think of?
5.)you got me on this one...
6.)What are the inherent difficulties with the esox species and how do you over come them?
6.)cant wait to see these answers ..just depends..i was whiteing all my fish out and that took care of the problem but im changing that method
7.)Warm water fish, Bought body or hand carved? Advantages and disadvantages to how you go about this task?
7.)only used bought bodies..this to will change
8.)Single action or double action airbrush, which one do you use the most and why? What are the advantages and disadvantages to your choice?
8.)this is another trial and error process..which got real expensive for me..i like double actions...
9.)A customer brings you a fish with a bad set of fins to either cast or use the real ones, you need to deal with this problem. How do you handle this and do you charge extra for your additional work, how much more do you charge?
9.)why not just replace the fins with fins you have kept from other fish?
10.)Do you compromise taxidermy as a service over the use of reproduction parts which may limit you to not being able to offer or complete a service that could be done in the traditional taxidermy methods?
10.)yes


OH Richard

This response submitted by George on 6/25/06 at 9:50 AM. ( georoof@aol.com ) 152.163.100.196

I heard the fish guys were gumbling as you were asking too generalized questions. That's a shame. Us "full service" guys like the idea. Why don't you just "come to the other side" awhile. LMAO.

1. By the inch. If I lived in Florida where the warm water fish grow fat before they grow long, I might consider weight, but I know fishermen and they'd lie about the weight and I don't want to show them up. I make money off them, remember?

2. I avoid artificial heads on warm water fish. If it requires an artificial head, I try to convince them to get the whole fish that way

3. $125 minimum. Keeps the kid's first sunfish in perspective to Dad

4. I guess I have to say fish art a respite to me. I don't get a whole lot of warmwater fish that are "trophy" sized here in this small state, and the saltwater stuff is really more advantageous for me to contract out "customer ready". When I get one, I can sit and skin it and flesh it without worrying about puss pockets or slipping. I try to always expedite them as they are a good "filler" between big jobs and I enjoy sitting down with the airbrush and painting them.

5.& 6. Not applicable to normal people

7. Bought forms on 99% of the fish. The major reason is that there are enough choices and I'm too damned lazy to mess with all that foam dust. Remember, SOME of us have hair and feathers to deal with as well.

8. Single action. Though I can chew gum and walk, I don't like having to make that choice midstride. For general taxidermy work shops, this is the simplest and most effective tool I have. Spot patterns are so much easier with the single action. Once I set it, I can do one or one million and they'll all be the same size with the same fingertip pressure. I can change to glosses and epoxies without worrying about tearing a gun apart. Won't ever go back to a double action

9. I make simple repairs on the real fins at no VISIBLE cost (that's built in to my pricing). If he wants them replaced, it's $25 a shot for the whole set EXCLUDING the caudal. The caudal is $25 extra.

10. I'm not sure I even understand the Bonus question and since I don't, my answer is "no - maybe"


From a great taxidermist thanks AH

This response submitted by Rick Krane on 6/25/06 at 10:19 AM. ( rmkinc1@msn.com ) 70.20.62.43

Ok I am back again so here we go,

1: Per inch it was just the common thing around here .
2:At this time no but will be making the change in the future,as for open gill I will let ya know what I tell them when I change over lol.
3: LOL I have a $100 minimum that needs to be raised soon,I do between 12 and 15 panfish in a normal year then again I haven't been at this long enough for a normal year.
4:At this time fish are the bulk of what I do but I will be taking on more mammals to help pay the bills. Fish are by far what I love to do in taxidermy the challenge alone keeps me coming back. I guess for me my thoughts are that to many taxidermist slap a fish together and seriously do the fish and the customer injustice. That being said the customer still might like them but that's the highest quality work they have seen. I think that if you don't or wont put the time into a fish that it deserves then don't take the fish in.
5:LOL ask me again when I know something about anything sooo 25 years sound good?
6: Well the water under the scales is a pain I run a dowel over the skin to push out the water.
7:Carved, the only disadvantage I have right now is my speed at carving.I went from carving back to bought bodies once,key word ONCE wont be going back. The detail just isn't the same on bought.
8:Dbbl action its all I have used really,I tried a sngl and wow what a joke. I like to control the paint flow with out having to stop and reset things. I just feel more comfortable with dbbl action.
9:If I have bad fins I will rebuild if its not that big of a deal but if its to far gone I will use cast fins if I have a set to match if not I will place an order. Yes I charge extra for the fin repair.
10: I try to give my customers what they ask for in the best way I know how,quality is my main goal and if artificial part are what is needed to achieve my goal then so be it.
There ya go Rick about time you got back to the FISH questions LOL.
Take care, Andrew


A couple answers

This response submitted by Paul B on 6/25/06 at 11:11 AM. ( bears@att.net ) 24.236.222.110

1) Per inch.

2) I use real heads on all warm water fish and on some cold water fish too. Gills are no problem as I never use the real ones anyway. If the customer doesn't like the artificial ones I use, I offer to cast the real ones at an additional charge.

3) $175.00 and anywhere from five to twenty any given year.

4) Fish is all I do commercially.


5) Char have light spots or markings on a dark background, while trout have dark spots or markings on a light background. Char seem to have smaller scales than trout too. I seem to prefer char over trout for eating, smoked, baked or fried.

6) The teeth and the light, delicate layer of skin (which holds the majority of the color or markings)that is over the scales. You have to skin them very carefully.

7) Always carved.

8) Double action, all 10 of them. I have never used a single action, but believe that any double can be set to use as a single for the digitally challenged.

9)I guess it would cost the customer more if they wanted all the fins fixed. I don't mind doing a repair here or there and don't usually charge extra for them, but all fins would have to be handled differently.

10)I would say not at all, that is if I understand the question corectly. I think as long as the finished product pleases the customer, you have done your job.


been reading for weeks, ill take a stab

This response submitted by ryan on 6/25/06 at 11:11 AM. ( rjrtaxidermy@yahoo.com ) 72.200.132.138

1. i blend the 2, i start at 15 an inch but may add due to weight and or girth.

2.i use repro heads on all my fish, always cast my own. i tell them why i use repro and if he wants open gills, i charge accordingly.

3. minimum charge of $300 on any fish. i only do a handful of fish each year.

4. i really enjoy fish taxidermy. before i went to school in PA i had no desire to do them, now they are among my favorite. i guess i didnt like fish before because all the fish around my area look horrible. i make good money on fish and i enjoy airbrushing.

5. never done a char

6. not sure

7. always carve my own bodies. its a little time consuming and the foam makes a large mess, but i like the fact that my bodies will fit perfectly and i can make it exactly how i want it.

8. i use an iwata hp-bcs double action. its the only one ive ever used so i dont know what disadvantages ther may be. i seem to do alright with it.

9. in my area, all of the salmon and trout are stocked and the fins are clipped and rubbed off from the tank. over all, very ugly fish. the customer usually want them the way they are. if i have to replace them, ill buy a set of fins or a specific fin to replace the damaged ones. if i know ill have a lot of fin repair, ill try to figure how long itll take and charge accordingly.

10.ill use artificial parts ie., fish heads, fins, noses, jawsets, etc., but i explain to my customers why i do and most dont have a problem with it. if they request that i dont, then i wouldnt. i dont think taxidermy is being compromised by artificial parts.


From MN. Well respected fish man!

This response submitted by Rick Krane on 6/25/06 at 1:28 PM. ( rmkinc1@msn.com ) 71.255.153.166

1. By the inch. I tried the length plus girth back about 20 years ago. All my customers thought it was a scam to charge them more(it was!), so I went back to the traditional PER INCH.

2. I've only used an artificial head on a warm water fish once, due to some extreme damage on the real head. I don't do very many open gill mounts, I charge an extra $2 per inch for open gills, a 30" fish would be an extra $60.

3. Minimum is $175, this covers almost all panfish. I do about 30-40 fish per year that this price covers.

5. The spots on a trout are black, the char's aren't. Front edge of the fins on char are DISTINCTLY white. For some of you who don't think you've ever done a char, Brook Trout, Lake Trout and Dolly Varden are ALL chars.

6. Scales are thin and of very little body so the body has to be smooth or imperfections will show. The teeth are VERY sharp and you need to be extremely careful when you skin them. They are usually LARGE so that they are tough to handle both when skinning and to a lesser extent when you are mounting them. The biggest problem that I encounter is degreasing the head and making sure it's sealed well to prevent any grease from bleeding out of the bones eventually. AND they STINK, both when you skin them and when you mount them, until they are completely dry.

7. Carved. The bodies fit! It can be a little messy, but I have a body when I need it.

8. Double action. I haven't owned a single action in years and I haven't used one in the shop in over 20 years. The greatest advantage in a double action is that it comes with a smaller needle/tip that allows for finer detail. If a single action were available with the fine tip of the double action I'd probably use it too, except that I find the double action quicker to work with.

9. I use the real fins. They pay extra for the repairs. Small splits or minimal damage is included as part of the job, but when they don't take care of the fish to begin with, THEY PAY.

10. No. The end result should be the best product possible, within the limitations of cost. I don't consider using a jaw set in a bear or an artificial nose a comprimise when it results in a better mount. Why should using artificial parts on a fish be any different.


From a new friend In AL

This response submitted by Rick Krane on 6/25/06 at 2:00 PM. ( rmkinc1@msn.com ) 71.255.153.166

Here is my answers Rick
1.)Per inch or per pound, why are we using these methods of charging as a standard today? Which one do you use and which on is best for you?
I charge per inch it is the only way I know to.
2.)Reproduction heads for warm water fish, do you use them over a real head? What do you tell a customer if he wants an open gill mount if you're only using an artificial head?
I have never used them but I do use them on cold water fish.
3.)Do you have a minimum charge for small fish? How many do you do per year?
$130 about none.
4.)Are fish a means to add a dimension of revenue for your taxidermy or do you find fish the most enjoyable part of your work? What are your thoughts on fish taxidermy?
I do enjoy them when they are done but they are a lot of work for the profit and time you put in.
5.)What are the characteristic differences between Char and Trout? List as many as you can think of? Smaller scales?
6.)What are the inherent difficulties with the esox species and how do you over come them? Smell bad, takes forever to dry, bad fins a lot of the time.
7.)Warm water fish, Bought body or hand carved? Advantages and disadvantages to how you go about this task? Some of both.
8.)Single action or double action airbrush, which one do you use the most and why? What are the advantages and disadvantages to your choice? Double
9.)A customer brings you a fish with a bad set of fins to either cast or use the real ones, you need to deal with this problem. How do you handle this and do you charge extra for your additional work, how much more do you charge? I would charge them and get new ones.
Bonus
10.)Do you compromise taxidermy as a service over the use of reproduction parts which may limit you to not being able to offer or complete a service that could be done in the traditional taxidermy methods?
I don't think so. If a part doesn't let me do what I aim to do taxidermy wise I don't use it.
Thank you for going back to fish questions. The other stuff about taxidermy is boring. JH


my 2cent

This response submitted by not so new fish guy on 6/25/06 at 4:29 PM. ( ) 70.20.62.108

Hey Ricky! Here are my thoughts on your fishy questions. Hey why no questions on the use of Lysol? How about next week what is a master? To much fun for one week!

1 I have tried a few different ways over then years and it comes down to what the fisherman are uses to. Per inch is the standard because it works for them to compare price but not quality.

2 I have found that using the real heads on most warm water fish is the way to go but not always. Bass is a simple jib to use the real head and lets not get into anatomical this or that with artificial heads. They are only 100% aqurate if cast fresh and if you are a taxidermist you can make a real head look convincing. Some heads due to the problems with greasing and complications benefits from a cast head. The real problem is time VS money. If it takes you 8 hours to custom cast a head and do it up this is still 8 hours. Where you may have a few hours skinning and mounting with the rebuilding work in there it is more profitable to go with the real on in most cases.

3 I have a kid's first fish price. It is 150.00 includes a nice panel and an engraved nameplate for the kid. I do about 5 or 6 a year and I have over then years taken on more work because I offer this service.

4 No fish work is part of taxidermy. Today I know that some specialize but I couldn't make a living doing just one thing or another. Fish are the most challenging because there is nothing to hide your flaws but it is a profitable aspect of taxidermy.

5 Trout have dark spots char do not. White edges to the lower fins.

6 Muskie or pike are a pain in the backside but are good moneymakers. There is an example of where to use a cast head and fins for that matter. They had tough skin to deal with some times and most are in battle worn shape. Learn to not treat them like a bass and learn the fish for what it is and you'll get through them.

7 Carved. It is cost effective and you can get a better fit in the end with out to much hassle. When the fish comes in you don't have to freezer it you can just mount it in most cases. Disadvantages? I can't think of 1.

8 I keep reading on here that single actions are some kind of a beginners or worthless airbrush. I use both but like different size heads on a screwdriver each tool has a purpose. I use singles for sealer some times for repetitive tasks such as spotting on Lakers. I think you can live with or with out one but it is like a gun it is better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it.

9 Of course you change more and replace or repair the damaged fins or what ever. I don't fix antler damages for free so why would any one do any thing else for free that takes time and skill.

10 No I'm a taxidermist who still can and knows how to still do taxidermy the conventional way. Some times I think all the new stuff finds away to handy cap the new guys. If a customer brings me a large mouth bass and wants an open mouth or open gill pose then I just do it. I see the artificial heads and the open gill look is a bit tough to pull off with out lots of extra time that the customer doesn't want to pay for. So keep it as a business decision and provide taxidermy to your customers.

Ok Rick I answered your questions so how did I do. It was good talking with you again! You are really a fish master no matter what any other those others guys think a master is or isn't. Your work and the pictures of your students work is better then what is out there today. This was kind of fun I will take your advice and give a bit of old time experience back. See ya in Billings Ricky.


From Alaska

This response submitted by Terry on 6/25/06 at 5:46 PM. ( go_tigers90@yahoo.com ) 64.74.177.162

1. I charge per inch, which seems to be the norm. Occasionally there seem to be variations. And currently I do have a price difference based on size (over 30" and 30" and under). On reproductions there seems to be a difference in shipping costs at about that size.

2. I haven't done a warm water fish in a few years but when I was doing warm water species on a regular basis I used the real heads. Never had a customer ask for an artificial head and I never considered needing them. That has changed now that I do coldwater fish.

3. $200- I really liked George's answer for keeping it real for the kids and a first fish. But there are no panfish anywhere near my current locale and frankly shipping makes everything a bit more expensive. How many SMALL fish or how many fish? LOL There are no small fish in AK, seemingly. When I think small I think crappie and bluegill back home. Currently- and I am just getting started- I am around a dozen fish for the past half year. Hoping for more as summer wears on.

4. I find enjoyment in all forms of taxidermy. I like fish better than other types; it just seems more challenging to me and that's primarily why I do it anyway. My goal is to be just a fish guy eventually, even if that's while I still maintain my day job (despite all the posts of the last week about fish taxidermy possibly being on the decline).

5. Coloration of spots and background. I do artificial heads on both so that's the same. Personally I really like painting up a spawning char; the colors can be so brilliant.

6. Never done a muskie. On pike I have to confess: I have yet to do a real head (have only done a handful total). I have read on here about potential problems down the line and the hassle involved in making them work so I have always bailed in favor of a fake one. Personally I think it's a good choice. IMHO... any artificial part painted well- especially to Joe Fisherman off the street- can be made to look good enough that you can't tell the difference. With regards to pike... I guess to me fleshing seems a bit more difficult. It just seems to want to stick to the skin a bit more.

7. Bought, the greater percentage of the time. With so many choices available it's just easier, especially for commercial work.

8. I started out with an Aztec double action (their best model at the time). It may have just been me, but for me, personally, it sucked. My next- based on an instructor at a seminar- was a Paasche H. It is still the one I use. Honestly I think whatever you learn on and have a comfort level with will work just fine for you. I enjoy the simplicity of a single action. I have not yet found anything I can't do with it.

9. I haven't yet ventured into casting. The few times I've had bad fins in conjunction with a skin mount I just order artfiicial fins and modify/use as needed. Small fixes to real fins I don't charge for as it's usual not a time consumer.

10. Not sure I totally get the last question, but ultimately it's that age old thought about the customer always being right. Every situation/job is different and might be tackled from a different angle (the use of reproduction parts?). As long as the customer can look at the final product and smile, THAT is all that really matters.

To one and all- Have a super week! :-)


From a great taxidermist & new freind from the Czech Rep

This response submitted by Rick Krane on 6/25/06 at 6:50 PM. ( rmkinc1@msn.com ) 70.20.62.108

Welcome a new friend from the Czech Republic! More worldly views on taxidermy! Thank you Tom for particapating!

Hello Rick,
Thought i'd put my 2 cents in. I live in the Czech Republic, and have a pretty good "preparator" shop going. Thought you might like to hear how things are done over here, i'll make all moneys in American.
1. Niether, up to 65cm its 300.00, over 65 is 500.00
2. I only use real head's. People are real fussy about teeth, gills etc.( it helps having a freeze dryer!).
3.I do about 2-3000 perch, chubb a year to sell as novelties at local "trading posts".
4I do all aspects of taxidermy, but fish are the "bread and butter" of taxidermy. Bottom line, you make your most money on fish, plus the pure enjoyment one gets adding the colour backto a dried out fish is payment enough!
5 No char in these parts, lots of trout
6.esox?
7 I hand carve all my bodies as no 2 fish are alike, and you could'nt order a body here if your life depended on it.
8 I use both, but in my old age, i'm getting a bit shaky, so the single works better for me. Although, on good days, the double lends to much better control.
9 I have lots of dried fins around, so I just "cut and paste"
10.Only repro's I do are for the "salties"
You come up with some great Q's, I'll try and answer more frequently, and if I could ask, maybe in the next couple of weeks, you could pose this Q. How do you guy's do your fin repair's? I look forward to week 19, and keep up the excellent work!
Friend's in taxidermy, Tom Parish


From a friend In WY

This response submitted by Rick Krane on 6/25/06 at 7:40 PM. ( rmkinc1@msn.com ) 70.20.62.108

Good morning Mr. Krane I see you're back to your fish questions. I don't as many as I once did but I'll give it a shot.
1.)Per inch or per pound, why are we using these methods of charging as a standard today? Which one do you use and which on is best for you? Per inch.
2.)Reproduction heads for warm water fish, do you use them over a real head? What do you tell a customer if he wants an open gill mount if you're only using an artificial head? Real ones.
3.)Do you have a minimum charge for small fish? How many do you do per year? I don't any longer no one ever tested the minimum rule with me.
4.)Are fish a means to add a dimension of revenue for your taxidermy or do you find fish the most enjoyable part of your work? What are your thoughts on fish taxidermy? All taxidermy is about revenue enhancement stupid question! Don't tell me you do fish for fun and practice for these ungrateful customers of yours!
5.)What are the characteristic differences between Char and Trout? List as many as you can think of? One has blackish brown spots and the other lighter color spots and who care as long as the ham and eggers are charging enough money to begin with.
6.)What are the inherent difficulties with the esox species and how do you over come them? Been some time since I got a pike in or a muskie but they are some trouble because the horse's ass drives around with them for a week before they get it to me.
7.)Warm water fish, Bought body or hand carved? Advantages and disadvantages to how you go about this task? I used to fill them and then we went to bought bodies either way they looked like stuffed socks. I never did get in the carving of the bodies for fish as we didn't do very many but I can see that it would be the best way. Don't ask me!
8.) Single action or double action airbrush, which one do you use the most and why? What are the advantages and disadvantages to your choice? Double. I learned on one.
9.)A customer brings you a fish with a bad set of fins to either cast or use the real ones, you need to deal with this problem. How do you handle this and do you charge extra for your additional work, how much more do you charge? It is all about money Dumb ass question Ricky old boy!
Bonus
10.)Do you compromise taxidermy as a service over the use of reproduction parts which may limit you to not being able to offer or complete a service that could be done in the traditional taxidermy methods?
Really dumb question! You never do any thing that cost you money. Rick keep asking these questions and the boys and girls are going to think you do all of this for fun not for profit. Well there you go my boy!


Sunday #18

This response submitted by Dave on 6/25/06 at 7:49 PM. ( ) 12.72.243.65

1) I am not aware of the reasoning behind why a "per inch" charge has become kind of an industry norm for fish taxidermy, or where it originated. However, it does work out fairly well for me. Periodically (every several years) I'll keep track of how much time I spend on several different sized projects and then compare the size of the fish with the price of it based on a per inch basis, and it calculates fairly good for the most part.

2) For many years I only used the real heads on warmwater fish, but about ten years ago I started occasionally casting them. I'm now at the point where I only use a cast head with most fish. I really like the fleshiness that a cast head captures on warmwater fish. There are several methods that I use to represent open gills on skin mount fish, from something very basic geared towards production replicas, another fairly simple method for moderately open gills, as well as very good detail on wide open gill covers. With warmwater fish, the more basic methods used on moderately open gill covers are included in my standard pricing, but the wide open, flow-through effect to get great realism costs the client more for the additional time I spend.

3) Even on small fish I put in a good bit of time, so I do have a minimum of $500. I rarely (one every several years) do a fish that the per inch calculated price comes in below that amount. Honestly, my shop production is geared towards larger fish. But even though I quote the minimum, I'll keep track of my time and if I can I'll either adjust the tab in the end in the clients favor or add some habitat or extras to make it even nicer and stick with my quoted minimum (which route I choose depends upon my reading of the client).

4) Fish are the only taxidermy I do. I enjoy fish taxidermy possibly more now than when I started playing around with it as a hobby nearly 26 years ago. If I couldn't do fish taxidermy, I wouldn't do taxidermy at all. That said, fish taxidermy is simply an extension of my interest in fish carried out through a keen interest in old world craftsmanship. For many years I have believed that fish taxidermy was the perfect result of my scientific interest in fish and my need to be artistically creative. I think I might be what is referred to as a "fish head", and at this point I think I can say that it can no longer be considered a temporary interest. Oh well, we all have our flaws - LOL!

5) To the lay fisherperson, you only need to know that char species have light spots on a dark background, and trout species have dark spots on a light background. Other observations taken in varying degrees may be prominence of contrasting colors at the leading edges of the pelvic and anl fins, fin shape and size relative to the body, the width to flatness ratio of the top of the head, developed prominence of vomerine teeth (those are the sharp little ones in the center roof of the mouth), relative length of the maxillary (upper jaw), pyloric caeca count (those little wiggly squiggly chambers hanging off the stomach), scale count/size, and probably a few more I am forgetting.

6) I agree with everyone about the scales retaining water while soaking and the need to squeegee it out. I personally cast the heads so that I don't have to worry about shrinkage and too much meat left in larger fish heads. If I have the original head I'll remove the palatine teeth patches (those on either side of the center roof of the mouth) and the large teeth on the lower jaw and put them into the cast head. I think that it is good to pay attention to the squareness of the body at the back and the relative flatness of the abdomen (on fish underwater) when carving the body so that these key features are represented well. Painting a pike or pickeral is a little different with the light spotting over a dark background as compared to a muskie, but there are a number of techniques to handle them. Oh yeah, band-aids and a good antibacterial cream come in handy.

7) Hand carved because I have complete control over what position the fish will be in for custom work, the ability to fit a cast head perfectly, and of course a custom fit. I have used commercial bodies and I like taking advantage of the effort and knowledge that someone like Tom Sexton or Matt Thompson has put into them, but sometimes it takes me as long to pick the right one that I want to use as it does to carve one - LOL. If I did a great many warmwater fish I'd have a more intimate knowledge of those guys's product lines and then it would be something I would certainly take advantage of.

8) I like the flexibility a double action gives me. I can spray a small spot in one instant and then quickly give a broad spray without moving anything but my one arm and the finger connected to it the next. As such, I don't really have a use for a single action, and I don't want to dream up one just to spend the money and say I have a single action brush. I know that many folks say that it is no big deal to adjust a single action on the fly, but why would I do that if I don't need to? I don't think I'm any more coordinated than the next person, but if I am then I am very grateful to be that way...

9) If I am going to use the real fins but repair them, I pretty much use the same method I wrote about in Taxidermy Today about fifteen years ago or so. In that case I would charge extra, and it would be about $15-$35 per fin, based upon the specific damage to a particular fin. In some cases a certain type of damage to oly one or two fins can be considered character and in that case both my client and I may agree to leave that one or two as is. Nowadays with undesirable damage to fins I'll just automatically direct the conversation with the client to using some stock cast fins that I have on hand so that their mount will turn out nicer and they won't have to pay additional charges. The amount of time to put one of my stock fins on versus using the real fin in perfect condition pretty much amounts to the same amount of time so it is already figured into the price. We both win that way.

10) There are certain things I will and will not do when it comes to fish taxidermy, because I believe I am better able to make those decisions than my client is. For example, I simply won't use the real head on a salmon. I do give them plenty of options and am open to their requests, but where the rubber meets the road is where I will have the final say. If their request is beyond the range of what I find suitable or optimal to carry out, then there are plenty of other fish guys they can go to who may be willing to lay their reputation on the line for a few bucks.


It has been a while

This response submitted by GB on 6/25/06 at 8:07 PM. ( ) 63.23.182.18

1.)Per inch or per pound, why are we using these methods of charging as a standard today? Which one do you use and which on is best for you?
Ans. we use these methods because the customers ask for pricing comparisons between taxidermists and they need a standard to measure that. Price by the job is the way to go.

2.)Reproduction heads for warm water fish, do you use them over a real head? What do you tell a customer if he wants an open gill mount if you're only using an artificial head?
Ans.Replica is the only way to go in my book. I charge a lot extra and if they pay I will cast the gills

3.)Do you have a minimum charge for small fish? How many do you do per year?
Ans. My minimum is $250. I rarely do fish under the minimum

4.)Are fish a means to add a dimension of revenue for your taxidermy or do you find fish the most enjoyable part of your work? What are your thoughts on fish taxidermy?
In my opinion well done fish only take a back seat to complete re-creations as the most creative/artistic form of taxidermy. They require sculpting,carving,molding,casting and a heck of a lot of painting.

6.)What are the inherent difficulties with the esox species and how do you over come them?
Ans Besides the obvious ones already mentioned concerning actually working on the fish I think public education is difficult. Too many poorly done specimans have educated the customers in a negative way. I first would discuss catch and release and explain that many replicas today offer a better product than what most taxidermist can produce and secondly I would produce photos depicting the poses that look natural to the species.

7.)Warm water fish, Bought body or hand carved? Advantages and disadvantages to how you go about this task?
Ans. Warmwater,coldwater,saltwater if it's skin mounted then it should be carved

9.)A customer brings you a fish with a bad set of fins to either cast or use the real ones, you need to deal with this problem. How do you handle this and do you charge extra for your additional work, how much more do you charge?
Ans. I rarely use the customers fins even if perfect. I match them to existing molds and if we are close and the base fits the pattern(very important) than I am set. If not I will cast the customers speciman. No additional charge is needed.

Bonus
10.)Do you compromise taxidermy as a service over the use of reproduction parts which may limit you to not being able to offer or complete a service that could be done in the traditional taxidermy methods?
Using replica parts in my opinion is never a compromise. I can think of nothing that cannot be replicated with equal and in most cases far superior results. The compromise is not advancing and learning to produce a lasting accurate representation of the part and charging for it.


my 2 cents

This response submitted by Derek Bowser on 6/25/06 at 10:55 PM. ( bowserwildlifecreations@alltel.net ) 67.140.53.42

first and formost want to say that I've only been licensed for a little over a year so still have much to learn, I'm in Pa.

1.by the inch, I guess just because every one else around here charges that way and the customers are used to that concept

2.just started using repros for warmwaters, still use the real heads for panfish so far at least, havent had anyone request a flared gill mount since I have been using artificials on warmwaters but i charge extra for open mouth either way and could, and probably should start casting gills anyway.

3.yes and no, if its a customers kids first fish i cut them a break and just charge by the inch because I think its a great reminder for both the father and child and so far its been working out pretty good cause i usually get repeat business from the parents and I just feel good about getting the youngsters first fish done for them, its not always about the money for me. but if its an adult and they want panfish or stringer mounts its 175 minimum.


4..I like mounting fish over all others, but i must say when you have guys like frank kotula and gary bruch in your state association you better keep on your toes if you want to be succesful, them guys are goo lol

5.don't really know other than what Ive just read in this post so far havent done any char yet, nope not even a brookie lol

6. I feel they are a little harder to flesh they seem like their flesh is stringier (if thats a real word) thats about it though although i've only done 3 to date

7. to date i prefer to buy my warmwater mannikins if i can find the right size. i know a lot of people see that as bush league but I'm so darn slow at carving I try to just carve my coldwaters, at least til I get faster

8. double action. its just what i learned on and cant see a reason to use a single when my double will do the same thing and more

9. I just try to give the customer what they want, I have several fish here with varying degrees of damaged fins, some were not repaired some were and others are casts or bought reproductions,I like having these on hand because some customers want the messed up fins saying thats what they caught but when i show them a finished mount with messed up fins and one with repaierd or cast fins I can usually change their mind.

10.I dont believe so, I suppose its not taxidermy in the strictest sense when using reproduced parts but when the finished mount loks so much better its hard to argue with success.


A big return for the fish questions!

This response submitted by Rick Krane on 6/25/06 at 11:44 PM. ( rmkinc1@msn.com ) 71.161.69.208

New and old the first timers and the seasoned taxidermist alike come here on Sundays to help each other and have fun sharing the experences of there skills and know how! I say thank you for making the taxidermy forums of WASCO a place that has changed the industry of taxidermy!

My Best to you all!
Rick Krane
Anglers Artistry
312 Chesterfield Rd
Hinsdale NH 03451
603-336-7296


For what it's worth

This response submitted by Dan on 6/28/06 at 12:55 AM. ( ) 69.218.226.118

1) Per inch is most accurate and easily understood by public.

2) Don't use artificial heads on warmwater fish.

3) I have a minimum rate on all fish. Do about a dozen or so small fish per year.

4) I only do fish and a few deer for my fish customers. It is what I do best and what I enjoy most. I find doing fish well is more challenging and therefore more interesting. You can't get away with a poor fit on a fish body or a bad paint job like you can on other critters which is why a lot of taxidermists I know, hate to do fish.

5) Don't have any experience with Char.

6) BIG fish are harder to skin. Sometimes I will remove sections of the fish as I work my way from the tail to the head.

7) I generally buy any form that I can. Only carve bodies if I can't find the right size or type or need a special pose. Cost more to buy forms but saves time. Also sometimes being consistent is important, especially if customer comes back a year or two later and wants another one done same way or his buddy wants one like it. Easy to look up paperwork and figure out what form to buy. Hard to remember how you may have carved one years ago.

8) I use both. Use pashce single for base coat sealer and gloss. Use Iwata for coloring fish. Would not be without either one. Pasche sprays thicker liquids easy and Iwata is unsurpassed in my opinion for ease of use and control.

9) I would repair fins unless the fin is 75% gone. Only use artificial as a last resort. I keep an assortment of dried fins on hand for this purpose. Yes I charge extra for all work I do to repair fins. I estimate my time and charge by the hour.

10) I always take the time to totally explain the process of fish taxidermy to my customers. When they leave my shop, they know that they are getting glass eyes, artificial heads on their trouts or artificial fins if necessary. I always explain why I use this method and have never had a problem or an unsatisfied customer because of my methods.


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