I have mounted warm water fish on forms, what needs to be done differently when mounting a steel head if an artificail head is used?
Return to The Taxidermy Industry Category Menu
just be sure to use a good degreaser in your soak; be sure to fit the head to the form before you mount the skin!
Makes finishing a lot easier!
And be aware this is my opinion and take on them. Some may disagree.
1.) Cast head only due to grease bleeding and to much time involved in building back up the real head IMHO. Best commerical heads in my opinion if you don't cast your own is Caribou Supply. IMHO casting your own head is not cost effective for commerical work.
2.) Degreasing a must as Mike D. said. Yeah I know Dan Rinehart says it's not necessary but I respectfully disagree. I soak the cleaned skin mineral spirts overnight, then wash in a sudzy Dawn solution for about 20 minutes and rinse. Next soak preservative of your choice. I prefer borax and lysol. If it's one of those silver chromish summer Great Lakes fish I only soak for a an hour or so and freeze the skin until I am ready to mount.
3.) As Mike D. said don't carve your body until you have the artifical head on hand. Sometimes you can't get a perfect match and you want to adjust the carved body to the head on hand.
4.) Most likely you will have to carve a body. There are some forms available and you could get lucky but for the most part salmonids vary so much you will have to carve. If you aren't good at carving yet get started praticing. It can be learned! Some are intimidated by it but it does get easier the more you do it.
5.) Make sure you skin is 100 percent clean with no connective tissue on the inside that can ball up and creat bumps under the skin. Also your form needs to be as smooth as a baby's butt as the skin on salmonids is thinner due to smaller scales. (Some of the smaller trout and char have thin enough skin to see through.) However it is fairly strong and shouldn't be a problem as long as you're careful.
5.) Don't use too much glue as this can create depressions or unseen air bubbles. But you must use glue! I use latex caulking in a tube from wallmart. It's the one that is about a dollar a tube. Make sure you push all the air bubbles out from under the skin and keep coming back to the skin for an hour or so to make sure everything is fine. I use my wetted hands to feel for and push out airbubbles. Instead of sewing the back seam I use dress maker pins. Sewing is a pain to me and puts too much stress on the skin IMHO.
6.) Use sufficent apoxie sculpt on your outside seam where the head meets the form. (After the skin is totally dry) If it's too thin it could crack later. Overlap it onto your trout skin. After the Apoxie sets up sand it with med find sandpaper and then fine sandpaper. If you need to apply another coat and sand again. You want a smooth natural head to body junction. I bond the head itself to the carved body with bondo. I used to use expandable foam but that can expand if your fish is exposed to warm temps and cause the seam between the head and form to crack. It can also be a pain for a beginner to judge how much expandable foam to use. Too little and you get a poor bond, too much and you have a mess and it could force your head away from the body. I drill temporary holes in the head to push in T or an upholstery pin to hold the head in place temporarily. I also like to heat the head in a microwave to shape it to have the gill covers down snug to the form and skin if necessary. Once heated, in place, and the way I want it I wrap duct tape around it to hold it in postion until the head cools.
7.) On larger salmonids you may want to clamp your caudal fin flat with thin boards and 'c' clamps after the tail had superficially dried out. The larger tails have a tendency to warp. I would also suggest using a good amount of apoxie sculpt or some other type of epoxy on these large fish to make a strong bridge between the caudal fin and body to prevent future warping.
8.) Before skinning out bright silver chromish summer Great Lakes salmonids salt the show side heavily and let it set for about 20 minutes. This will help hold the scales in. Once you are ready to scrape the inside of the skin rinse the salt off. I use a scalpel with a fresh blade for scraping on these delicate fish to prevent excessive stress on the scaled side.
That was a great post. (Never thought I would say that to Cecil!)
That was awesome advice Cecil. I have 2 of them to do that I have been putting off, These were caught in the Vermilion river in Ohio this spring. My son and a friend of mine. Thanks again, I'll let you know the outc ome.