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New limbs for some historic mounts

Discussion in 'Habitat and Exhibit' started by George Dante, May 4, 2009.

  1. We're just finishing up the restoration of a number of pieces for the American Museum of Natural History's new Extreme Mammals exhibit and a few needed new tree limbs for their cases.
    We thought this would be much more simple than it was. ...Isn't that always the way? The armatures had to be steel in order to withstand the weight of the older mounts, withstand the abuse of a traveling show, and with some of the pieces being so old, the limbs are the only thing holding them together! Once again you'll see Mike Vernelson working his tree magic here on the steel and sculpting.

    George
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  2. BEAVERS

    BEAVERS New Member

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    All I can say is Unbelievable. Those tree limbs looks real.
     

  3. Jon S

    Jon S Well-Known Member

    That is amazing. How in the heck does he do that?
     
  4. LordRusty

    LordRusty If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

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    He takes the time to study the real thing, using references, and goes about recreating those trees as faithfully as possible! That's how he does it! A master!

    John.
     
  5. DDavis

    DDavis Active Member

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    Outstanding work ! What does he use for building the bark ,is it some types of apoxie , resin , or what ?
     
  6. bill@hogheaven

    [email protected] New Member

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    George...do you have a descriptive list of the materials you said you were selling?
     
  7. Thanks guys! I couldn't have said it better myself John, Mike simply knows trees and he's passionate about it. Field study and reference are a must with any artform. We're constantly in the field taking photos, making casts and most importantly.....just observing. I think we take a lot of these things for granted when we start to build, we all assume or think we may know what a tree or rock looks like until you actually take the time to study one carefully. You'll be amazed at what you might learn, and that's the exciting part!

    DDavis, the bark is sculpted in an epoxy compound from Polygem.

    Bill, I do not have a list as of yet, but we have so much stuff here in the shop it's crazy, and we're constantly adding to it. For the time being, feel free to contact us and let us know what you're looking for if it's something in particular.

    Right now in process we have some large stumps and logs, as well as various tree parts and fungi. Water panels, insects, baitfish, Barnacles, coral, plant and animal models, etc. With every job we do there's always some molds made for something and we have so many I wouldn't even know what to list. For instance, we have molds for hard to find specimens like Galapagos Marine Iguanas and Sally Light Foot crabs.

    This is one of the main reasons we're offering our service as a company as well. We fabricate most of the custom components we need, and can make just about anything you want.

    George
     
  8. wow! that looks just like the real deal ! very impressive work
     
  9. DDavis

    DDavis Active Member

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    Thanks for the info. going to send you a pm .
     
  10. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    George, I'm delighted to see you "joined us". Not only is YOUR talent unquestioned, I see you've surrounded yourself with others of equal talent. Mike sure does work magic with his trees. Thanks for sharing and showing us what CAN be done at the hands of "masters".
     
  11. ed150

    ed150 deer city time

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  12. Hey George,

    Thank you for the kind words, and it's great to be here! I am truly bless with the team I have and they constantly amaze me.

    George
     
  13. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

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    George,

    Nice work retrofitting the old mounts to the new habitat limbs. Looks like the AMNH is getting wholesale into traveling exhibits, but I wonder how successful they will be in a down economy. We currently have the AMNH traveling Horse exhibit here but I have heard the high cost has scared at least one customer away and we are extending its' stay here. It was amazing the number of 18 wheelers the exhibit consumed and the time of set up. Do you know if the Darwin exhibit is as extensive.

    On a side note, as you mentioned the casts of the Galapagos Marine Iguana(s) is done, could you send the specimens back? I would love to see a picture posted to see how great they came out. I lent a Graptemys to Cur a handful of years ago and he cast the shell and all, and the specimen came out looking alive.
     
  14. Hi Steve,

    Thank you. Yes, the traveling exhibits seem to be doing very well for them. It's funny you mentioned Darwin, as I think that was their most successful. I believe it's six different Darwins now we've worked on for all over the world. That is a large exhibit as well, but it's sometimes broken up into smaller pieces to accommodate different venues. Very nice exhibit!

    The Iguana specimens are all packaged up, ready to go. Thank you once again for your help, it's greatly appreciated. I used a combination of texture molds made from your specimens and some from AMNH. The models are 90% sculpture with the textures stamped into epoxie.

    We had to make so many in different positions with limited time, we found it easiest to just make each one from scratch. As you know time is always an issue when producing these exhibits and we never get to put as much time into these as we'd like. I'd love to go back at some point and really work one up and re-mold it.

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    The Blue in this one did not represent well in the photos...looks a little "washy."

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  15. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

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    Great job on those specimens. I knew you would need to sculpt the overall bodies, but certain body parts could almost be used straight from the specimen. There is nothing like having the real thing in hand - unless you have both the real thing AND a living specimen to study simultaneously. I think your use of wrinkles is spot on, as many taxidermists mounting herps make them look like someone took air hose from a gas station and inflated the specimen at 110 lbs.

    It is cool to have specimens from the Galapagos. We don't have large numbers but occasionally I'll go to the case with the Darwin's finches in them just to see the differences. We also have a Galapagos Tortoise mounted up 80 years ago which was done very well. It would be neat to see adult shells of the 12 original subspecies that existed on the islands. They probably have them in England as I have seen some X-ray pictures of study skins Darwin did himself when he visited the islands.

    Most of our specimens came from a Mellon sponsored trip that secured representative specimens. As I understand it now, all scientific specimens that are salvaged from the islands, and are not kept by Ecuador, exclusively go to the University of Wisconsin Museum.

    Did you have Darrell from the Herpetology Department look at the specimens? He went on an AMNH trip to the islands with my boss a handful of years ago and had a great time.

    Again - a great job on the marine iguanas. It is no wonder Museums tend to use outside contractors as they can bid out services when they need them, and don't have to pay them when administration decides to go a different direction with exhibits. I am sad that the historic "Museum Taxidermist" is gone, but it is a sign of the times.
     
  16. Thank you Steve! We are so fortunate to have access to these collections, it makes a world of difference when sculpting.

    I did not know about Wisconsin, very interesting. I believe Darrell handels most of our curatorial reviews from Herpetology. We can't let a model go until it goes through the final approval process and he signs off on it. He's a great person.

    I am saddened by these changes as well. Times have certainly changed from the role a taxidermist plays in museums today right down to the way he is look upon by others in the community. It also amazes me how the use of real specimens is diminishing so quickly in exhibits.
     
  17. Wayne R

    Wayne R NRA and B&C Life Member

    The trees are amazing!

    George, I was fortunate to sit in on a seminar you gave on paint, and using an airbrush, that you did a long time ago. It was for the CAT, which is now known as NEAT. I don't think you ever caught your breath trying to give out all the information that you did. As George said earlier, it is great that you are here on this site.
     
  18. Hey Wayne,

    Thanks for the welcome. I do remember that seminar, I always seem to worry about filling the time slots and then wind up babbling on past the limit anyway. Hope it was helpful. They're a great bunch of guys up there as well!

    George