Submitted by jim marsico on 7/28/99. ( email@example.com )
Does anybody have any info or advice on how I can enhance/replace or otherwise improve a mane on a african lion mount? Thankyou
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This response submitted by John Bellucci on 7/29/99. ( ArtistExpr@aol.com )
... No ... Not really! The problem is not with the lions' lack of a full mane. No sir! The problem lies with these "Great White Hunter" Wannabes going out and shooting the first lion that gets sucked into the baiting station ... usually just outside the perimeter of a protected National Game Park ... Kruger, Serengeti, etc.
Seriously, too many lions are being killed. So many "mature" males have been, and are being taken out at younger and younger ages, that not only are their manes not fully developed, but the gene-pool is in trouble. If younger, scanty-maned lions are the only ones left to breed, then manless males - like the infamous "Tsavo Killers" are going to become the norm rather than the exception. And then these guys want us to "fix" their lion, and "make it look better."
Okay, I'm done on my soapbox ... now let's address this latest lion-debacle. The first thing to tell your client is that it can run up to $5,000.00 to have an artificial mane made up for his/her lion. National Hair Technologies out of Mass. is THE company many Hollywood studios turn to for fabricated hair products. The did the lion manes for the big cats in such films as "Jumanji" and "The Ghost and The Darkness" ... yes they gave manes to the maneless males of the true incident for this movie. It's hard to find manelss males in captivity!
The other problem is that it never looks right when something like this is fitted over a mounted lion. It takes alot of work to put in groups of hairs to form a natural looking mane when you don't know how to do that process. Just pulling a mane=piece over the neck and shoulders is going to look weak.
The only other way is to buy raw Yak hair, dye it, and install it in the proper places, or work with what you've got ... or dont "got" as the case may be!
There are poses to put the lion into such as a relaxed laying-down pose, where you could shorten the neck of the mannikin ... just a smidge. That will give you more skin to taxi up the neck, close onto itself. Just avoid creating too many large wrinkles this way. Lay your hands on the sides of the neck and work the skin in a short, sliding manner into position until the mane "looks" fuller.
Honestly, there's just so much you can do with an immature lion that has been killed too early in his life. Hell, they don't come into their "prime of life" until they're five to seven years old! These guys are killing two and three yearolds of poor genetic makeup! That's why the manes are getting worse and worse looking.
Hope this has helped a little. Best of luck to you. I don't envy your position here. Take care ... John B.
This response submitted by jim marsico on 7/29/99. ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
John Thanks for response and advice. The lion I have to do was not a young lion but a lion with the mane mostly missing on the left side only; otherwise its a nice mature wild cat. Ive got your cat book and Ive read it and I think you did a good job on it. Ive read a lot of your forum opinions also, always some good points but always seemingly a little on the bitter side? I call it "TAXIDERMYITIOUS" I know no cure. Ive been also afflicted for 32 years now, I think its terminal. again thankyou. Ill contact your leads. Jim M.
This response submitted by John Bellucci on 7/30/99. ( ArtistExpr@aol.com )
Let me try to clarify ... it's the wanton destruction of a species, in this case lions, that angers me ... NOT the question of how to fix the problem. My "venting" was not directed at you or other taxidermists that are called upon to - yet again - "fix" something for someone in the way of a poor specimen. The plight of so many of the game animals out there is simply going to lead to a moratorium on hunting them, if some do not take a long-term approach to deciding whether to continue to hunt them or not.
Now, my friend, if you would have just been a little more specific about exactly what was wrong with the mane of the lion in question, we could've avoided my soap-box oratory!
It sounds like this was either the result of 1: The great cat rubbing himself "raw" against a termite mound in an effort to rid himself of ticks or something, or 2: This was possibly caused due to improper handling of the skin - not a far-fetched assumption, or 3: The hunter didn't reach the lion and begin the skinning in a timely manner, causing lividity - an accumulation of blood settling to the lowest side of the body - thus creating an internal "softening" of the skin holding the roots of the mane. The mane area of the lion will hold the body heat in for a VERY long time, making this scenario the most likely cause ... that's my opinion only.
If it's real bad, that ought to just be the "off-side" of the mount, and restoring that part of the mane would best be done using dyed Yak hair.
Installing the hair will require a sharp "pushing" tool. This is simply a good stout length of wire with a partially flattened end which then has a slot filed into that end, and is mounted into a wooden handle. One can also be made up from a very large sewing needle with the end or tip of the "eye" ground away until you have a slot created. This too should be mounted in some sort of wooden handle.
A grouping of hairs are then laid in place on the bare skin area, and "caught" in the slotted tip of the tool as it is pushed through the skin, locking it into the foam of the mannikin. You need to work from back to front and from lower to higher on the area to achieve the proper ""overlaying" of the hairs. This would be best done after the mount is dried, I would say. Hope this clarifies things for you a bit more, Jim.
Best of luck to you ... John B.
This response submitted by boe on 7/30/99. ( )
talk about lion hunting in front of your potential clients? I bet not John b, your full of crap, and how many lions have you ever done ? I bet you suck up to all your new s.c.i. friends
This response submitted by Brent on 7/30/99. ( email@example.com )
You sound mighty bitter to be in this profession. Maybe you should sit back and cool your berkenstocks! sp?
This response submitted by Rob on 7/30/99. ( )
Boe your comment doesn't deserve answering.Your type of comment is what is destroying this forum.I and I'm sure many others insist this type of attitude end on this forum.As far as John B's knowledge of big cats --I believe he was raised from infancy by a pride of lions.John is a walking cat encyclopedia.As far his knowledge on cat taxidermy --lets just say he wrote the book.Never doubt his skill or knowledge as a master taxidermist.
This response submitted by jim marsico on 7/30/99. ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
For everyones info thanks to Johns lead I contacted natonal hair tect in Mass. They told me 8 sg. feet of lion mane would cost me 500.00; minus a zero in Johns forcast, so I was double happy. they are sending me a sample. thankyou john B. Ill get though this mount fine NOW. MY two cliets that I have that went to Tanzania on a 45 day hunt told me they spent over 80,000 on the hunt alone. this is the second trip for them both; I mounted 42 animals for them 5 years ago. I do know that without hunters like these two many of africas game would have disappeared years ago. Its the old follow the money story. Big Game in africa is Big business the animals have a high value so its in the interst of the governments and PHs to keep that value high to keep making money to keep clients coming back ; the value of the animals is accually thier protction. Also very good for a taxidermist like myself, the deposits have been good cash flow. Am I preaching to the choir??? I HOPE SO!!!!
This response submitted by Doug M. on 7/30/99. ( email@example.com )
I'm curious.Do you recommend using any adhesive to hold the hair in place or does the foam secure it well enough? If adhesive is needed, what kind and how best to apply it? Thanks.
This response submitted by boe on 7/30/99. ( )
truthfully answer my original question! how many recently?
This response submitted by John Bellucci on 7/31/99. ( ArtistExpr@aol.com )
Good question on that adhesive issue. Shame on me! I was thinking of how the hairs are held in place on a Hollywood "prop" piece. Those things are covered with a foam-rubber kind of skin that has a springy effect, wherin the hair is held in place by the pressure of the rubber "skin" after the hair is pushed through.
In the case of a lion mount - or any mount that requires hair transplantaion - an adhesive should be used.
The only one that comes to mind as being the best for this purpose is Mohr Indusrties Jaw Juice. It is a VERY thick adhesive, almost like a gel. This will permit it to stay where it is put, without worry of the glue running.
Just squeeze an amount of the glue out of the tube onto the spot that will have the hair applied, then install the hair. Jaw Juice will start to set up in about 15 minutes or so, and will be permanently set in about 12 to 24 hours. It will hold the hair very well.
Now Jim, as for the $5,000.00 quote ... that was the price I was quoted by National Hair Technologies for them to produce the "finished" mane for an African lion. That was the whole mane, ready to attach and secure to the lion prop. This is the hair woven into a stretchy fabric material, all trimmed and color-dyed to match the special effects houses' needs. That's where the $5,000.00 price comes from. Like I say, fromm your original posting, it sounded like you were needing a full mane "hairpiece" for this cat ... so that's why the quote for a fully produced lion mane. Oops!
As to the hunting of animals in Africa, I have NO problem with that. It is great for not only taxidermist that get the work in their studios, but the fees also benefit the native peoples as well. Everyone comes out ahead in the game. The hoofed mammals that are hunted - the prey animals - are fast to reproduce and reproduce in vast numbers.
It's the predators that breed more slowly - their young taking longer to nurture to maturity. Not just that, but after the young male lions are ousted from the pride, the various pressures of the world outside the security of the pride, insures that nearly eighty-percent of them never make it to maturity. Among these pressures they face, hunters are included.
The point is ... if these young male are not permitted to reach maturity, take over a pride, and pass on their genes to a new generation, the gene-pool of lions in Africa AS A WHOLE will suffer. If this continues on its' present course, lions will be given endangered status, and then where will we all be?
If you think the lion can't go the way of the tiger as far some day becoming a protected species, then think again. Already in many areas, the cubs being born are so genetically deficient that a majority of them never even make it out of cub-hood.
Also, the males siring these cubs are old enough to breed - yes - but not yet full of themselves enough to defend themselves or the pride. The result is a continual "hostile takeover" of one male after another. This contributes to infanticide - the killing of the present cubs - bringing the lionesses into heat again to produce yet another litter. More and more of these litters are producing a majority of female lions. Do you get the picture now?
This is the concern I have. There needs to be either a limit on the number of lion permits issued, or hunters are going to be completely shut out of hunting them altogether.
A hunter can still find mature lions ... but they have to work harder at it now, than they had to as little as 25 or so years ago!
I get these facts from researchers in the field that write the scientific papers on these studies. If you don't care to read the truth, then go ahead and bury your head in the sand or attack me for speaking it. Whatever makes you happy!
As for myself, in 31 years in this art, I guess I can say I've mounted a couple-dozen lions maybe more - those early mounts were not what I was very proud of, quality-wise, and one tends not to dwell on ones' poorer works. Of the lions I have worked on from then to now ... these include head mounts, rugs and many full mounts.
Good wishes to all ... John B.
This response submitted by boe on 8/2/99. ( )
john, if youv'e done so many cats, and it seems as if you take photos of all your great works and publisize them, wheres the photos of all these other big cat s? just wondering, be truthfull now!
This response submitted by Doug M. on 8/2/99. ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Knock it off, Boe. If you can't contribute any useful information about the question that has been asked then go away. Your kind isn't welcome on these forums. You're just another example of why registration is needed here.
This response submitted by Leanna on 8/2/99. ( email@example.com )
Bye now! Your sounding like an ...
This response submitted by Steve G. on 8/2/99. ( )
John oughta' give an answer to this question from Boe. Let him answer and quit defending him, from his many other postings , he needs no defending from anyone. I'm curious too, why no other pictures or articles on these other lion mounts?
This response submitted by Jim Marsico on 8/4/99. ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
John, You are so defensive and uptight its irritating, lighten up. I respect your knowledge and Im grateful you share it but start to get up on the right side of the bed please. Boe should get a life and be sorry he's such a a..
This response submitted by craig on 8/4/99. ( )
John dont get me wrong you seem to know your cats but dosent area play a big part too. ie the loins in box thorn country and deserts dont seem to have good manes and even in old animals. i might be wrong but seen a few from zimbabwe which were old cats and little manes
This response submitted by John Bellucci on 8/4/99. ( ArtistExpr@aol.com )
Your thorn bush statement is correct to a point, Craig. Thorn bushes are prevelent throughout Africa however, not just the southern part of the continent. There are the the really large thorn bushes that bomas are constructed of, and then there are the low-to-the-ground type of scrub thorn bushes.
These are the types that tend to prevent wild lions from growing a belly fringe, and keeps the mane hairs on the lower chest area thin. As far as scanty manes on the upper regions of the neck, the cats would have to almost roll in the thorn bushes to tear that much mane area out.
There are lions in the Kalahari that carry very sparse manes, but these are desert lions, so I wouldn't expect them to have a full, thick mane ... there's not a lot of shade for them to lay down under.
Like I said, there are mature lions out there being taken by hunters ... they just have to work harder to find them. Many though are simply younger cats.
Even the dynamics of "the pride" have changed drastically over the years. In the old books that I have been reading about travels in Africa in the 1920's, by such authors as Akeley, Johnson, and Roosevelt, lion prides used to contain MANY mature, full-maned lions! It's amazing! One account had up to eight mature males heading up one pride. Plus, they would watch the males go out on the hunts.
Also, back then, hunting was extremely unregulated, and it didn't take long for MANY of the animals of Africa to become scarce. Lions faired amongst the worst though. Every opportunity there was to shoot a lion was taken advantage of. This made later generations the animals become more secretive in their behavior.
It is also largely responsible for what has become known as natural selective breeding ... wherein it is safer for the survival of a species - in this case the lion - to not only produce males with smaller manes, but to also produce more females in the hope of producing more males to take up the slack. It's a vicious circle really.
In areas where there was heavy poaching, elephants are developing smaller or no ivories. It's natural selection at work there also.
Now Jim, how you get "defensive" and "uptight" by my response to a question asked of me is totally ludicrous. All I tried to do was back up a statement I made with some facts ... to help clarify what I said. I don't want anyone to think I'm against hunting. I just hope people can understand what can happen, and how it can affect us all. I think you maybe need to lighthen-up some. There was no malice directed towards you, so why are you getting so nasty? Is it just that everyone has to jump on the dump train?
Here's hoping for a little more understanding and a lot less dumping ... John.
This response submitted by another wonderer on 8/4/99. ( )
answer the questions!
This response submitted by Bob B on 8/4/99. ( email@example.com )
Who cares about photos of John's other cats. If it truly brothers some of you, I'm sure John will
be more than happy to print you photos of his work. He makes part of his living doing just that.
Visit his website @ http://members.aol.com/ArtistExpr
In other words put your money, where your mouth is. How many of you whinners photograph all
your mounts. If you clowns can't appreciate John's talents through his many published articles
in the trade magazines (Breakthrough, Taxidermy Today) or his informational posts here, then
you'll never understand why the owners/publishers of those magazines print so many of his
articles. Not to mention, that they published his book, not yours.
I have purchased reference sets from John, and purchased back issues of Breakthrough just to
get some of his reference studies. Besides great photos, there is a wealth of information in these
articles, both on the species studied and taxidermy tips.
Anyhow, I look forward to buying your books, and reading your articles in the trades.
Wait a minute, how will I know I'm reading your work, but maybe then you will be proud enough
of your work and opinions to use your name and let us all share in your glory.
This response submitted by boe on 8/4/99. ( )
I only brought this point to light when I heard the winning lion was his only one he has done! Wheres the others he always brags about???????????????
This response submitted by eli on 8/4/99. ( )
what is your point---other than the one between your ears of course? your last post really makes your mental apptitude evident. john answered your question and you still aren't happy. he told you how many cats he's done. if it was his first lion----as you THOUGHT----i use the word in the most general sense of course---i'd say the guy has talent coming out his butt. oh and by the way i just can't WAIT to see some photos of your AWSOME work---i'm sure that its all WORLD CLASS. no one is really defending john---people just tend to be annoyed by your brand of stupidity thats all. have a WONDERFUL day BOE.
This response submitted by Doug M. on 8/4/99. ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Your two posts together said it all very well. Bravo.
This response submitted by Rob on 8/4/99. ( )
Anybody recognize the style writing used in some of the above negative posts.If I had to guess I would say some of these people are no strangers to the forums.In all honesty they are some of the "quitters" from a while ago who have come back as a different author to try and disrupt the forums some more.Nobody is happy if everybody is happy?
This response submitted by jim marsico on 8/5/99. ( )
Thanks again John for your reference and help I still think your to sensitive; I was making my point about all the comments Ive seen you make over time. I am glad you answer questions. I admire your talents.
This response submitted by John Bellucci on 8/5/99. ( ArtistExpr@aol.com )
I cannot believe this is still going on. Thank you to all who have stood up for me here. I greatly appreciated it!
Let me try and appease the insistances of those who think they can make a point here.
Most of the lion mounts - rugs, head mounts, and other full mounts - I had the chance to work on in the past, were done when I was but an employee at other taxidermy firms. At these places, as an employee, there was never the time, nor the ambition from the owners to "waste your time" on something as "frivilous" as "taking pictures".
Those qoutes, those terms, tend to stick in my mind. Also, many of these mounts were done before I owned a good 35mm camera, let alone before I taught myself the proper applications to make a good photograph.
I have been able to find an older set of pictures of a young lion done while working for one firm, taken with a Kodak 127. This one was a dilly! It was a young lion that at the time, was owned by an ex-Hell's Angel. It jumped the guys' fence, got hit by a car, and ended up at this firm, where it sat in a pickle for I don't know how many years. It is memorable because it was small enough to be mounted over a full-mount Jaguar mannikin from Jonas bros, and had to have the entire head re-sculpted to look like a lion. I was allowed to do a little research for this cat back then, but nowhere near the kind of study I've been fortunate enough to undertake recently.
As far as photographing every piece I do ... what are you nuts? Have you photographed every piece you've ever done? Usually the client picks it up before I even have a chance to get film for the camera, let alone set up a "photo shoot". My major concern is getting the mount completed, and getting paid for the work. Now with all of this b.s., I wish I had.
No, I've not photographed EVERY deerhead I've ever done, or every pronghorn, elk, moose, caribou, impala, eland, kudu, zebra, or buffalo head I've ever done, Just as I've not photographed evey full-mount bear, cougar, deer, antelope, raccoon, wolf, coyote, dog, cat, monkey, exotic, lion or even every squirrel I've ever mounted.
The lion mount that has become the subject of so much envy and jealousy - hey, what else can I call it - has been written about because of 1: the tremendous amount of time that went into the study of these great cats; 2: it's MY lion mount; 3: I set out to produce what I consider THE best creation I am capable of while armed with the knowledge I gained: and finally 4: I have the ability to share what I know with others out there who care enough about what they do, to want to improve their skills and abilities in this or any other subject of big cat. And if I can get paid for it by the selling of a book ... so much the better. Isn't that why we are in business for ourselves? To make money??
By the way, the lion mount has not been the subject of a Breakthrough article. It has been mentioned, but so what?! It is a personal mount that I have attached a huge amount of pride to!
It's so sad that, whoever these two people are, that their lives are so shallow and empty, that all they can find time to do is this persistance at coming after me. It's almost as if they must sit around trying to dig up dirt on anyone they don't like. If you enjoy that kind of thing so much, then why not work for the National Enquirer? At least there you can get paid for going after people, making baseless accusations and making up stories.
I was really going to try to stay above the fray on this one, and with all the wonderful support shown by others on this post, it looked like it could be possible. However, when the people defending me become targets, it's time to respond, and this I have done.
Now, I don't think I got offensive here ... I wasn't trying to. I simply tried to answer the questions posed to me - again - and tried to suggest a way these folks could focus their energies.
And Jim, you are right ... I am, very much, too sensitive. But that's just me. Glad to see things are a little smoother between us! With all the detractors I've got, I need to keep as much good Karma as I can, with as many as I can!
Of course you all know this won't be the end of it ... but it will be the last response here for me on this subject!
Here's good wishes TO ALL ... John B.
This response submitted by ???? friend of boe on 8/5/99. ( )
photo included in any of your african articles? Hummmmm of any antelopes or whatever Hummmmmm I think your in a dream world.....
This response submitted by John Bellucci on 8/5/99. ( ArtistExpr@aol.com )
I really shouldn't but ...
The In-Depth articles being written for Breakthrough are reference pieces on LIVING animals ... not how-to's on taxidermy technique. You can't learn what a live animal looks like by viewing a mounted specimen ... no matter how well it is done. Those are coming down the line.
FYI - Hmmmmm - you need to wake up from YOUR dream world, and pay attention to those facts.
Or is yours a nightmare world of inadequacy?
Have a nice day! John B.
This response submitted by Cheryl B. on 8/5/99. ( email@example.com )
I have been reading this "exchange" between BOE and John B. (my husband), and I just can't stand it any more!
I confess! *I* mounted that oh-so-special-one-and-only lion mount that's in the articles and in the book, NOT John! And, to top it off... that lion mount does NOT even exist! It is a CG (computer generated) composite of hundreds of lion pictures I found in those books John keeps insisting on bringing home. I HAD to do it! I had to make it look like John was doing SOMETHING worthwhile with all those pictures he was taking! It took a lot of extra hours on my part to get all of the different angle shots just right to look like they were of the same cat. Wow, and to get the picture that appears on the cover of the book... I had to go out and buy a whole NEW computer for that one! (To make sure everything looked just right, I called in a favor from an elementary-school buddy of mine who does special effects for a company in California. Too bad I have to call Bobby and tell him that our plan didn't work!)
I really thought I had everyone fooled, especially when the kudos started coming in from the folks on the forum... thought I was scott-free on this one. Guess BOE was just too smart! What was it, BOE? What exactly tipped you off? Was the dithering off just a smidgeon on the tongue? (That was probably it... I've always thought I overdid that really deep throat... thought that people wouldn't think anyone would ever put *that* much time into a mount.) You caught me, BOE... I've been found out!
Now, to all of you who will *swear* they've seen this mount at a show... in person... Well, thanks to my 9 years as a government contractor to Wright Patt AFB, my buddies in the Air Force really helped me with the holographic and super-secret technology to pull those "face-to-face" meetings off (you know that super-secret technology... the Alien technology stored at Wright Patt in Hanger 18... the stuff we got in Roswell). If any of you folks took a picture of that lion, I'll bet you'll notice he's a little "fuzzy" around the edges... that's the stealth technology we threw in for good measure.
I apologize for my deception... it was not meant maliciously... I only wanted to give John some meaning to his life... a reason for his hunting for the ultimate references... a backup to his "big talk". I suppose you could say the fake lion mount was a "labor of love".
But, I did do a damn good job of pulling if off, didn't I? :)
This response submitted by battling boe on 8/6/99. ( )
I quote from an earlier posting , '' of the lions I have worked on from then to NOW... these include head mounts, rugs and MANY full mounts'' end of quote , then a posting after that reads ''most of the lion mounts- rugs, head mounts and other full mounts- I had the chance to work on in the past, were done when I was but an employee at other taxidermy firms.'' My point being,, don't mislead people into thinking you have RECENLY done many lions, when in fact you have probably done only one 'the cat' while operating your own shop. Quit being so deceiving in your lion talk!
This response submitted by John Bellucci on 8/6/99. ( ArtistExpr@aol.com )
Your mis-quote of the earlier posting is typical of the petty jealousy you have had of "the book" for quite some time now. The quote ACTUALLY begins: "Most of the lion mounts ... etc." That's MOST ... NOT all. Let's face it Bob, you've never really been all that literate.
What your true problem is, is truly beyond me! If you don't like the book and the time and talent that went into it, then don't buy it, and stay un-informed! It's your loss!
As for your attempts at this juvenile campaign of trying to discredit me ... you're failing miserably! Just as you must be failing miserably at life! Why else would you be taking so much time out of your "busy" schedule with these puny, impotent attempts to discredit me and my book? One can only wonder at the sad state of your hollow existence. I feel very sorry for you. You are a sad specimen of human being. And an even sadder specimen of a man.
Your poor and unsuccessful attempts during this sad campaign have only strengthened my resolve, and have proven to MANY others just what a small and petty man you realy are! I think you really need to quit while you're behind.
As for myself, I am comfortable in the thought that all I say is the truth, and all of that truth is between the pages of my very successful book ... "The Breakthrough - Art Of The Big Cat - Manual". That is more than I, or many others, can say about you. There is absolutely no need for me to attempt to justify myself to you. Those attempts have been as useless as you are. It is a waste of my valuable time, therefore, no more energy will be spent on someone who is unworthy of my time. There are others out there who are hungry for assistance and direction as they enter this wonderful art. They are the deserving ones ... not you.
Until we meet again, try to have a wonderful life. I know it's tough for someone like yourself to understand that ... but try anyway.
Best regards to all ... John B.
This response submitted by boe on 8/7/99. ( )
this is boe not Bob, you loser!!!!!!!!!!
This response submitted by John Bellucci on 8/7/99. ( ArtistExpr@aol.com )
You be whomever you think you need to be! As long as it finally makes you happy!
Best wishes to you ... John B.
This response submitted by boe on 8/7/99. ( )
last word from you,,,, the last word will be from me,,,, liar liar pants on fire!?!?
This response submitted by John Bellucci on 8/7/99. ( ArtistExpr@aol.com )
Above title says it all!
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