The Donnie C Memorial Plaque

Donnie CollierTwo days before Christmas, I logged into the Taxidermy.Net Forum and was met with horrible news. One of our own—a popular, happy, helpful, generous member from Texas—had lost his life in a tragic house fire. I immediately went to Donnie Collier’s account activity and saw where only a few hours before, he had been hanging out on the Forum, interacting with friends in the Taxi.Net Bar & Lounge and discussing Christmas presents for wives in the Current Events Forum.

All of the Forum community was stunned by this sad news. Apparently, the fire started shortly before 4:00 a.m. from a heat lamp which had been placed under the house for the past few weeks to prevent pipes from freezing in the extreme cold. Donnie’s wife and kids were alerted to the fire by smoke alarms and escaped the blaze. When they gathered outside, they realized Donnie was missing. They broke open the windows of the master bedroom in an attempt to rescue Donnie, but the smoke and flames were too intense.

One of the Forum’s most prolific members, Bob Peltier of Texas, was a friend of Donnie’s and wondered if there was something we as a community could do to let Donnie’s family know the depth of friendship and respect that we all felt for him. Bob is our resident long-suffering liberal who has posted under several pseudo names throughout his many years on the Forum, annoying Republicans and conservatives with glee, but Bob has a heart of gold and is generous to a fault. On Christmas Eve, he made a post suggesting that we present a memorial plaque to Donnie’s family inscribed with the names of his friends from the Taxidermy Net.

I wanted to be a part of this memorial, so I offered to create the pen-and-ink drawing of Donnie based upon his Taxidermy.Net avatar and design the plaque. Bob agreed, and we started gathering names of friends and well-wishers to be added to the plaque.

Chad Davis at McKenzie was helpful in choosing a beautiful piece of mahogany and setting up the laser engraving in their wood shop in North Carolina. McKenzie technicians imported the artwork into their computerized laser system and burned the names and drawing into the wood. It took about 30 minutes for the laser to finish the job. Then, the engraved sections were airbrushed with black paint and the panel was hand sanded. The wood shop manager Jimmy Robinson suggested using a Taylor Brown stain which really brought out the golden and red hues of the wood grain. A final gloss coat finished the process. I found the entire procedure fascinating, so I made a short one-minute movie showing the steps in how the plaque was manufactured:

Lots of members wanted to be listed on the plaque and offered to help pay for the expenses of production. In the end, the plaque was donated by McKenzie and all of the proposed donations were directed to the family. A trust fund has been set up at the First Financial Bank of Brock, Texas. Donations can be made to the Marsha Collier Benefit Account, First Financial Bank of Brock, Texas, 1100 Farm to Market 1189, Brock, TX 76066, (817) 598-2650.

The finished plaque was delivered to Donnie’s widow. It is our hope that Donnie’s family will appreciate how he affected others beyond their local circle of friends.

Donnie Collier Memorial Plaque

In the few months since this tragedy, Donnie’s insurance has paid off the note on the old house and property. The local community pitched in and is building a new home for Marsha and the kids where the old house was located. The slab is already poured and framing will start soon. Through donations when the home is completed it will be hers free and clear of any debt. I’m sure that Donnie’s plaque will be a special part of their new home.

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Shipping Charge Misconceptions

There are several recurring topics on the Taxidermy.Net Forum which continue to come around again and again as predictable as the seasons. When there is nothing to argue about on the direction of the NTA, the existence of bigfoot, the merits of tanning vs. whatever, or if Bondo is an adhesive, the topic of the day turns to big suppliers trying to squeeze the poor little taxidermists with their unrestrained corporate greed. One of the most revisited issues is the subject of shipping charges from taxidermy supply companies. I have to roll my eyes at many of these posts, as I have seen both sides of these issues. The actual truth is sometimes overlooked. There are many popular misconceptions repeated over and over, which I will address below. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bluegill (Bream) Paint Schedule

It’s hard to believe that three decades have passed since Breakthrough first started publishing a series of taxidermy instructional manuals. The first book in this series was “The Breakthrough Encyclopedia of Fish Painting” and the very first edition came in a large, tan three-ring binder, with all of the paint schedules printed on individual card stock. You could open the rings to remove, rearrange or add individual pages as your needs required.

In 1984, we enlisted the help of many of the top fish taxidermists of the day to provide their step-by-step directions for how they painted popular species with an airbrush. Thus, the “paint schedule” was born, and this instructional format has been a staple in all taxidermy publications ever since. The bluegill paint schedule by Ralph Garland which is reprinted below, was also published in “North American Taxidermy News” a little over ten years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

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~ In Memoriam 2013 ~

At the start of a new year we pause to reflect upon the losses to our friends and colleagues in the taxidermy profession last year. Artists, family members, industry pioneers, and journeymen taxidermists were among the ones who left us due to illness, accident, unfortunate circumstances or the passing of time. We pay tribute to the lasting legacy of our comrades who will be missed and mourned within our extended taxidermy family. Here are some of the people who left our world during 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mammal Tanning Step-by-Step

Every year, a new round of questions appear on the Taxidermy.Net Forum from newcomers to the profession asking questions about the steps involved in home tanning. Even though tanning products and chemicals have continued to evolve and improve through the years, the basic steps for tanning have remained relatively unchanged for decades. This is true because each step in the process is essential for allowing all subsequent steps to react properly. Read the rest of this entry »

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