My partner and I have been contracted by a historical museum to restore some mounts that were done about 50+ yrs ago. We told the caretakers that we would try to use the same forms if possible. We discovered last night that the deer heads were done useing the complete skull, plaster & celser (spelling?) and the lips, of coarse, sewn shut. They are basicly shoulder mounts w/o the shoulders, just long necks with brisket. We were talking last night about buying new forms and cutting the shoulders off and altering to look like the old ones. What would you do, Use the old foam or alter new? They have some mounts that were done with todays methods hanging also. They do have a website www.shrineofthepines.com
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It is quite possible that the museum might insist on using the old forms. I would try and convince the museum that the new forms is the way to go. If you try to take the old hide of the original forms you most likely will have to rebuild the forms anyway. Plus the original forms were made using the skull of the deer whose cape you are using for the mounting. Not so on the remounts since you are going to use a fresh cape. There are plenty of good neckforms on the market and you should have no problem finding the right size and pose. But talk this over with the museum first. After all you are going to work for them.
The caretakers have already said that it was up to us. They have been the caretakers for the last 6-7 yrs.
Use care when dismantling the old mounts.There is a good chance that the skins were treated with arsenic and any mache most likely contains asbestos.Rubber gloves and a dust mask would be a good idea while going through this part of the process.
Evelyn is right too. You should be up front with the museum and tell them that they can't have it both ways. Trust me, you don't want to remount those old heads using that method. They need new hides. That's what "restoring" means in taxidermy parlance. We call it "freshening" or a couple other names, but the museum is to give patrons a chance to see up close, animals they wouldn't normally get that close to. If they're wanting the museum on TAXIDERMY methods, then those old armatures would be a blessing in disguise.