African Lion Question(s?)

Submitted by Cameron on 4/19/99. ( )

This probably should be directed at John Bellucci if he will help. I have *no* experience with taxidermy, but have inherited an old lion skin with mane (approx 8 1/2'). I was wondering if it is possible to use forms to give the classic snarling style rug look or am I nuts to even try? I saw the Breakthrough book offered, so I thought with the help of that, some good forms, etc. there might be some hope for me.

I'm not looking for perfection here, especially with an old skin that wasn't skinned with this in mind, just something nice.

Should I attempt it or should I abandon all hope and seek 'professional help' (a taxidermist). Or perhaps it's even beyond the pale of a good taxidermist.

Cameron "who doesn't have a whole lot of money" Howard

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I'm Not "Lion"... Take It To A Pro...

This response submitted by John Bellucci on 4/19/99. ( )

Hey Cameron,

My first suggestion is to take this skin to a professional taxidermist. Ther are going to be a lot of variables with this skin... the biggest of which is the probability of what we in the art call "dry-rot." This is a condition caused by the oxidation of the acids used in the pickling and tanning processes. They can actually break down the fibers of the skin, weakening them to the point where upon wetting the skin -- a required step for proper stretching and mounting of the skin -- the loosened fibers pull completely apart!

If you have no experience at all, this is not the type of project you should make an attempt at. You can however, make sure of the presence or absence of dry-rot yourself. Do this by lightly dampening a small section of the hide... either a part of the head area, leg, or body area, letting it sit and soak up the moisture, and then practice a slight pulling of the skin in opposite directions. If it tears, that's the end of it! Do nothing more to the skin, but hang it on the wall, dust it frequently, and enjoy it "as-is."

Secondly, it would be my choice to mount the head area in a simple open mouth pose, without the horrendous distortion that a snarling headform gives, especially some of the newer ones... YIKES! But that's me. I don't care one iota for the snarling faces... besides that gets old and tiring to look at constantly.

I hope this has helped shed some light on the situation for you. Best of luck with the lion skin. Keep us informed here at the forums with the progress of this project... good or bad, so that others may learn from your experiences.

Regards... John B.

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