I know there is a million posts about how to stain deer antlers. What I need to know is how! I tried the furniture scratch remover, minwax stain, and even went in the woods and pounded the horn into the wet ground and rubbed the dirt in. (had an old set of rattlin horns.) I can not get the dark natural look back in the horns. The stain looks just like a stained horn from top to bottom. The dirt did not work well at all. Needless to say that was the 1st and last time I use the pond to soak the junk off for the euro mount. Any thoughts will be attempted.....
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Old European masters accomplished their paintings with the fat over lean principle. Basically that process calls for using fastest drying paints under slower drying ones to prevent separation cracking (crazing) on the surface. While the process has not much to do with taxidermy in general, two current products allow it's principles to be employed to produce a rich and deep natural finish on antlers.
The two products are acrylic polymer paints, and alkyd resin paints. Acrylic polymers, while water soluable when wet, are bonded finishes when dry and impervious to water and most solvents. Alkyd resins are pigments mixed with another resin that is can be thinned with solvents like turpentine and mineral spirits.
To finish antlers, simply mix acrylic polymer paints to the correct base color desired. Usually combinations of burnt and raw sienna, ochre, burnt and raw umber, black and white will provide an exact replica hue and tone. Apply the acrylic thinly to cover, but not fill surface detail, and allow to dry overnight. Use a combination of Burnt Umber, black and/or Dioxene Purple or Sienna to make a dark surace stain. Thin the mixed pigment with turpentine or mineral spirits and brush over the entire antler surface. Allow to set for twenty minutes and then wipe off with a soft cloth (I use my bare hands), being careful not to remove the stain from scratches, surface crevaces and the like.
If lighter tips are desired, spray transparent white acrylic on the tips and blend toward the main beam prior to staining. I like Createx transparent white with a drop of ocher added for that purpose. Staning may be enhanced with airbrushg, or striping on lining sable brushes if desired. Knobs and whorls on the bases may be tipped with transparent white and ochre to highlight if desired. Done correctly, the finished replicas are identical to the real McCoy.
Last year a customer arrived, picked up the replicas made from a set of 190 score trophy antlers and asked, "where are the copies?" I told him, "in your hands." He said, "c'mon, these are the real antlers I brought you." Not until he had both sets in hand would he believe me. At that point, he said, "G** D***." I guess that is testimony enough for the process.
Many thanks to Cur for the detailed answer to this question. The "just check the archives..." isn't always the best answer. After all, how'd the archives get there in the first place if not for new ideas and input being added to this site? Thanks again!
I didn't check, but this is probably the umptyeenth time I have made this post.....lol
Glad it helped
Dirt has nothing to do with antler color, its water soluble and washes out of clothes, let alone of hard bone.
Just about every answer is in the archives.
The term BEST is SUBJECTIVE.
USE WEBSTERS to look up SUBJECTIVE.
What I think works best may never work for you or you may not think is the best method.
I have two ways to colors antlers that I think works best, I also think its in my best interest not to share this info with anyone.
Since most others are covered in depth, I suggest you start working with colors and paint to figure out what is best for you.
Tree bark and dirt are nothing but a joke as you found out.
If you check really close at just what colors much of the antler, you find its right there in front of you in your shop daily and very very simple.
I perfer to apply paint in many different colors and building up depth in the paint while I go. I start with a light brown, then on to two or three other browns like burnt seinna or burnt umber, The chocolate brown. I will darken bases with watered down black and ligten the tips with fine steel wool and rub the antlers till the right look is created, You can also lighten the veins with a Q-tip dipped in alcohol or acetone for acrilic paints. I do not use laquer paints, but you can use paint thinner with them.
I also like to seal each color after I highlight them, with clear cote to seal it and keep from rubbing it off during the next color.
YOu would be supprized in the different colors you can use to creat a perfect match.
I live here in the West and a lot of elk and deer have rubbed in pines and junipers which leave Green color on the antlers as well as tones of sap that darkens with dirt and mud that gets on them afterwards. Alot of guys want that color left on.
If I replicate a set of antlers, I strip the sap and then paint it on later in just color, I do not rub then in trees to get sap on them again. what a time cunsuming job that would be. LOL