I need an easier way to handle our bear rugs. And before you get started I don't want to use a rugger. Thanks anyway.
The method we've been using is to mount the head, rehydrate the rest of the hide and stretch it out on a stretching board, hair side up. When dry, we trim it and do the relief cuts, repairs, patching. And then dye it and rug it.
I know that there are "rugging tables" used with a u shaped cutout for the head and that the rugs are stapled hair side down.
So I have some questions:
Do you rehydrate the whole bear when mounting the head trim and sew the relief cuts and then stretch it?
How do you do nice relief cuts before the bear is stretched?
Doesn't the hair get all bent? In our method we blow it out and groom it before drying.
How do you get a good stretch? Our stretching boards are just on the floor, the rugging table must be on a frame so that the head is clear while you are stretching?
Thanks for your time.
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..I also did my own. With a rugging table, you MUST make a graph on the table. This allows you to have the symmetry you need in a rug. You can count squares and insure opposing legs are exactly opposite. Instead of a "U", I had a teardrop hole in the plywood. (I used 4- 4x8 half inch plywood pieces, overlapped the joints and screwed them together. Then I cut the edges off so that I had a 6x8 foot piece that worked for MOST black bears. Then I drew 2 inch squares over the board for my graph.) I rehydrated the entire hide, mounted the head, screwed it in place by running a screw through a scrap piece of plywood on the underside and into the rug shell. Then I stretch the hide as much as I could for symmetry. (Always go wider first, then length, then gently wider.) I used push pins to hold the legs and the belly in place but allowed the arm and leg pits to buckle. When it dried, I lifted the armpit area and used a very sharp scalpel from underneath. I split it down the center of the bubble and then let it overlay. I stapled it so the bubble wasn then flat. When the hide was completely dried, I turned the hide over, used the scalpel to split that overlap down the center. Cut very CAREFULLY so you don't cut hair. Then I stitched it together after removing the two wedges. Trim your rug on the table so the graph can help you with symmetry. I sprayed the hide with glue, put batting down, sprayed the batting, and then attached the felt. I quilt stitched in in place every 6 square inches and then I carefully bound the edge with a wrap stitch. I dyed all the bare spots and finished the head as the last step.
I admire your wanting to do this and I think everyone should do it ONCE. AFter that, you'll see that your time can be better spent on more productive efforts. UNLESS of course, you intend to do them wholesale for others. Good luck.
Thank you George for your advise. We are in Canada and I haven't heard of many wholesale ruggers in our area.
But I was in another taxidermy a while back and saw that this fellow was using your method except that it appeared to me that he had trimmed and sewed the relief cuts before stapling it to his rugging table. Have you heard of this and do you have any pointers?
I know I should have just asked....but he didn't seem to want to share too much info.....pretty common in this industry.
Thanks again for your time.
Dee Dee, I do my rugs as described sewing the relief cuts before doing the the stapling to the table. It saves you time in the end. I would do the finishing process on the head before attaching the felt to avoid getting dye and such on the felt. Also I don't wet the entire hide just the head and only wet the rest before stapling to the table. Not sure whats so hard or dumb about doing a bear rug but its really not that bad. You make more money by doing it yourself. Just my opinion though. If you have any other questions on the subject feel free to e-mail me, MarkV.
Professional ruggers have sewing machines that can do in a fraction of the time what takes me several days. They charge half what I charge the customer which really makes great sense to me for profit margins.
I never sewed until the hide was dry for fear that there'd still be "bubbles" left if the overlap wasn't proper. Now I'm ASSUMING here, but did you do this after you wet it but before you stretched it. I'd be really concerned about pulling stitches as well.