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The NTA Score Sheet and Judge

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by *, Jul 16, 2009.

  1. Josh, there is a panel for the higher awards, but it will never work for the Master, Pro or Amateur calasses, it just plain cost to much.

    I have judged fish as several shows, I have also tired to win ribbons with every species I can. Some were good some were not so good.

    Now having kept live rattlers, copperheads and many other snakes and lizards I agree there is a wide wide difference in reptiles.

    I would like to point out the horned toad at the NTA. it was pretty darned awesome. Certainly one of the top reptiles there. I did not look to see if it was a skin mount or reproduction. I saw many opther top notch snakes and lizards there too. While I don't get a chance to do many and most of the snakes I get are ran over by cars. I do know you can use artist oils and paint them and its darn hard to nearly impossible to tell if they were painted when done right.

    One thing about judging that is easy to judge is craftsmanship, finish around the eyes, seams ears turned to the edge, drumming.

    So is drumming on say an elk head any different than drumming on a deerhead, no drumming is drumming and it pretty much occurs in the same places. an ear that's not turned is an ear that's not turn be it a sheep, goat, deer, elk, fox, cat or coon.

    Like humans each deer is different, each coon is different, each deer is different but we don't make those distinctions. We use generic forms to fit one of thousands of deer or elk and so on in most cases. Most of those forms have anatomical problems. But when we head off to a show, its you the taxidermist who is suppose to know enough to fix them problem of accept that the judge does.

    If you slip something over on a judge it may not be a slip they may have seen it and just let it go.

    Someday I predict there will be a rating system for judges.

    Its not easy to be a judge because there is always someone that's going to say you are wrong.

    But you should be MAN enough to say hey wait, I know this piece or hey wait I don't know anything about this species. If they don't then maybe they should question their own credibility unless their ego is getting in the way.

    I can tell you in the case of one judge if there was any doubt, the benefit went to the taxidermist!!!!
  2. I do agree as it stands it will cost too much.

    Here is a question. what do judges get payed on average?

    Like I said in the Art world judges are typically not payed.
    in fact the vary act of paying a judge seems to create a conflict on interests.
    I do understand that some who judge are aware of this and will donate what they earn from it to charity.

    I know worlds is judged by a panel but the judges still are able to communicate with each other before the winners are determined.
    This is faulty and creates the possibility again for conflict of interest and intimidation to choose a winner.
    I am not saying that happens, but it wouldnt surprise me if it did.

    I stand by my statement.
    "If you are a Judge then you dont or shouldnt need advise of other judges"

  3. Josh it becomes pretty clear you are not competing in taxidermy. It is different than other forms of art. Its different than car show judges too. It's even different than photograpic contest.

    As was mentioned everyone cannot know everything about every species.

    Bass can have different anal openings, but evenone uses a pretty generic one. If its in the ballpark then it should be ok.

    I saw someone post where the elks lips should have been more grey, I would have ask the judge, warm grey or cooler grey? I stayed away from the elk and cat, I had a feeling there would be a stink about it. so I stayed away from it.

    Its a fantastic commerical piece,, I could see that awesome. I dont know about the details, I did not look.

    Maybe someone has closeup pics if the eyes nose nasal passages, then if they were posted everyone could speak on it.

    Hey how about a judge that says you should only use a certain brand eye?

    Maybe thats not right either
  4. John, well you are mildly correct in that I am not "Currently" competing in taxidermy. Although I have several competition pieces on the table for the next two years round of shows.
    I have competed in the past so I am not exactly a virgin to the industry.

    As for how this is different then other forms of art I am really unsure?
    Have you competed in many fine art competitions to experience the difference?

    I am assuming it is referring to the common belief that "Art" is subjective to the viewer. where as "Taxidermy" has set standards of what it should look like.
    (If I am off on that I do apologize)

    If that's the case then the general public is unaware of the rules or "Laws" as they were referred to in Art school.
    There are as many absolutes and standards in the art world as any other, however the general public seems unaware of them.
    the do's and dont's of color theory, negative and positive space relations............. and thats just general art.
    when you get into figurative art it is identical to form sculpting in taxidermy.
    The anatomy is judged very very harshly. Ill take a dozen taxidermy critiques over one from Harvey Citron.
    Taxidermy critiques are like love fests compared to some of the ones Ive sat through in school or in art competitions.

    All that aside, my concerns are simple when it comes to the big name shows.

    Conflict of interest.---------------------(judge to judge - judge to competitor - judge to supplier)
    Persuasion between judges. ---------- (judge to judge discussion)

    These would both be very simple fixes.

    My comments on the method competitions are judged currently really have no bearing on the cat vs elk mount.
    I chose this thread to bring it up out of the dozen ones running at the time of my first post. lol

    Im not trying to cause any trouble here just have a discussion about our industry.
  5. Monte

    Monte Missouri fur-Limited hair-tanning

    Jknuth, you are very close to profiling the competitions as they are and have been. One assumption ,addition would be the outside influance of commercial competitors on the judges. After all the judges are announced way ahead of time and I think they should not be announced to anyone.

    I think most taxidermist want to be known as artist , or taxidermy as an art. If that is the case , then the current competitions are holding back the growth of taxidermy as an art as I see it.. In fact if all this competition thing went away , commercial taxidermy would not lose a thing , because there are a lot of inovators in place. All of our clients for over 45 years have looked at taxidermy as an art. Only in recent times have I decided to accept it as art and explore the possibilities of presenting taxidermy to the public as an art. Perfect technical pieces will not hold a candle to one with WOW factor.

    The bottom line as I see it is taxidermist are trying to please each other and disagreeing on the methodology. How technical, how artistic, how difficult, all with no controls in place to get close to a standard , which all refer to and no one agrees on.

    I don't have a dog in the race, as I don't compete. Or wait, maybe I do. How taxidermist are viewed by the public is of great concern to me.
  6. LordRusty

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

    I keep saying, the wow factor will not hold unless the piece or pieces are correct. "Go big or go home"? How about: "Do it right or don't do it at all."

    And how about some sort of standardization for judging? Something along the lines of a written exam to pass before hanging a judges pin on someone? "Win big, and you too can be a judge!" Winning "big" doesn't mean someone is qualified to judge. Just as winning "big" with a North American Mammal does not suddenly makes one an expert on African Mammals. Maybe there needs to be a coalition of qualified judges? You have one Mammal judge qualified for North American Mammals, one Mammal judge qualified for African Mammals, then maybe ... I don't know ... further divide them into small/medium and large Mammals, with a judge qualified for each specialization.

    Whatever the answer, it still comes down to how accurate is the piece in its structure, details, anatomy, and biomechanics.

    There's nothing wrong with going for a big, spectacular piece ... just be sure all the components of the individual subjects are right on the mark.

    If you want to do art ... go do art. Sculpt for bronzes ... you want a tough market to get into ... that's it. There you can screw with expressions to your heart's content.

    But in Taxidermy, animals can only do certain things. They are limited in their range of movement, expression, etc. Just because we can manipulate their skins to do our bidding, doesn't mean it's correct. And if it's not correct ... then it's not correct ... and a good judge will call you on it.

    They are not wowed by a "big piece" for the simple reason they have to not give in to being "wowed". They can be wowed when first observing a piece, but when the judging starts, they have to start what some call "nit-picking" the piece to death. That's what they do.

    If they are qualified to judge, and judge by what the animal has as its nature, then they are doing a good job.

    If they are judging a piece as a popularity contest, then that too is as wrong as judging without the knowledge of the subject.

    If they judge a popular piece to "take you down a peg" ... then that too is as wrong as wrong can be!

    What's the final answer ... I have no clue. But if getting shot down is this disagreeable, then do this type of work for the people who appreciate it and matter most ... the client. Then too, not every hunter is interested in over the top pieces. It's hit and miss.

    I have clients who are not interested in wall pedestals. Their choice ... they pay for the mount. I've had others who see a mount in a book, magazine, a friends den, and want its double. Their choice ... they pay for the mount. We can suggest to them, but the final choice on what they want in their home is theirs.

    Competitions ... I didn't like the direction they were taking when I stopped competing over ten years ago, and it seems it's just gotten worse. They have become more of a popularity contest than they were ever meant to be, and that is a shame. It hurts the field, no doubt about it.

  7. Lone Wolf

    Lone Wolf umm BACON

    Good post John.
  8. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Good post John. We should have seen this coming. The days of a standard shoulder mount deer with a closed mouth winning will never return to competitions. The piece that generates 99% of all taxidermy work has been relegated to the "novice" division forever. That's sad.
  9. Divide an concour. Its [pretty easy to do that at the world show but at smaller shows, you just cannot afford that many judges.

    Ok since all the crap has been posted on judging. how about setting some points values.

    Here is the place to start. 3 being the worst and most that can be taken off a 100 point score. The mount starts at 100 and goes down.

    eye lids upper 0-3 points.
    eye lids lower 0-3 points
    nic. membrane 0-3 points.
    lacus lacrimalis 0-3 points
    Caruncula lacrimalis 0-3 points
    left eye lash placement 0-3 points
    right eye lash placement 0-3 points
    color of skin in eye area 0-3 points
    dirt in eye area 0-3 points

    there will not be a deduction for dust on eyes, because thats can happen from the cleaning people doing their job.

    ear canal placement 0-3 points
    ear rotation 0-3 points.
    front edge of ear placement 0-3 points
    rear edge of ear placement 0-3 points
    edges of ear 0-3 points. this can cover not skinned to the tip.
    thickness or thinness of the ear 0-3 points.
    Dirt in ear 0-3 points.
    color and blending of inner ear 0-3 points

    who wants to continue.
  10. jim tucker

    jim tucker Active Member

    Not me. I keep the past in the past.
  11. Cole

    Cole Amateur Taxidermist

  12. Nice... Wanna see the scoresheet for our state show? ;D

    Eye shape... 0-3 points
    Ear butts... 0-3 points
    Grooming... 0-4 points
    Paint... 0-10 points
    What form was used... 0-10 points
    How much judge likes this specie... 0-10 points
    Does the judge know you... 0-20 points
    Does the judge like you... 0-10 points
    Is there another entry by a friend of the judge in the same catagory... 0-30 points
  13. PA

    PA Well-Known Member

    This quote from Gravity is from yesterday, but I thought I would comment on it
    "Dennis, you are beyond inspiring for anyone who sees your work.

    My 10 year old daughter (she was on the cover of the NTA program) went to the SF Academy of Sciences a week or so ago and openly started to explain to other passers by how the giraffes mounted in the mueseum were horrible compaired to your lion and zebra, and how all the animals in the place should of been mounted by you. She then started pointing out exposed stitching and explaining how the mounts looked lifeless, and how "this taxidermist she knows makes the animals look alive and moving".....

    Now, to inspire a 10 year old girl enough to ramble on and on to complete strangers who had no idea what she was talking about, well, that makes you a legend in her eyes. They guy who judged your work should be getting judged by YOU. I will be sure to never enter a mount in any competition where he is on the ticket.

    The thing I found interesting here is that the Joans Bros were very involved in the Simpson Hall of African Mammals. The brochure I have lists many of the Taxidermists doing the individual Dioramas, but unfortunately it doesn't spell out all the specific mounts done in the waterhole exhibit. The Tose Family (Frank and Cecil) did most of the taxidermy in the African Hall but many mounts were contracted out, and Jonas did quite a few.

    Taxidermy done in the 1930's was significantly different than today, but I wonder exactly how a mount done today would look in 80 years?

    Louis Jonas, Carl Akeley, and James Lippett Clark were all pioneers, but the methods employed in Taxidermy were still in their infancy. The sculpture put out by these people, and others like Rockwell still look amazing, but that is Art, and it holds up.
  14. Ok there it is seems people want to whine about judges taking to many points away for something and I gave you a starting point and then everyone is afraid to say yes, no or maybe.

    GK sorry there is more to eyes than shape, thats to general sometimes they can look good from the front and not have anything else right. More to ear butts too.

    A honorable judge would step aside and not judge a piece they know. Its a conflict of interest.

    Yes it happens and some judges are fine.

    If I had a small mammal and Brian Harness was the judge I would be fine with his judging. I might even score less. I certainly have a new respect for Brian and his small mammals.

    In a recent show I had both the highest score fish and the lowest scoring fish, there was a reason and it was to make sure I threw everyone off. even the judge did not have any idea.

    As I scribed at the NTA, I saw lots of the same mistakes made over and over. I have to do a few small mammals to get things rolling but I know now I will do a lot better job for my customers. Matter of fact I am anxious to do a few for next years shows!!!!,, even large mammals.

    Yep lots of todays show pieces are certainly better than the best of 100 years ago and even 10 years ago!!!
  15. LordRusty

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

    Here are some Lion/Zebra mounts that are not only "exciting" but also correct.

    You see, in reality, when a 300 to 400-pound Lioness, lands on the face and/or head of a 600 to 800 pound Zebra ... the Zebra doesn't lift its head back up, let alone rear. Once one of these gals grabs a Zebra's face ... it's just about lights out.
    Now, I know some Zebras get away, but it's by the Lioness loosing her grip, and not because the Zebra suddenly summoned the super strength to lift itself up with a big cat attached to its face or head.
    The best leverage a prey animal without horns has, is to buck its hind end up. This is because of the length of the neck and head acting as a cantilever, thus allowing the rear end of the body to rise high after springing off its hind legs.
    This guy has attached himself to the Zebras body ... and he's going down.

    Lion, Lioness, Zebra action from a Cabela's display ...

    Here are some other high action pieces that are also correct!

    This is a newer museum mount ... lots of action ... BIG action here!
    I wish like hell I could remember the museum this piece is on display in! If someone can refresh my failing memory ... I'd appreciate it!

    Some other Lion/Prey animal "Action" ...

    Now this one -- though impressive, with its own "wow" factor going for it -- I have to also doubt. Here you have a 500 to 600-pound male on a 440 to 600-pound Wildebeest's back, and his hind end is up? I don't think so!


    My point is, you can "go big" and still "do it right" ... the two are not mutually exclusive. I would love to do "action" pieces like this if my customers would only want them. The closest I may come this year might be an adult male Ostrich displaying and defending his nest of eggs ... from a curious Lion ... that's as "Action Oriented" as most of my guys are!

    Now here's the real deal!
    Uh oh! Here comes the big guns!
    To paraphrase Howard Cosell: "Down goes Zebra! Down goes Zebra! Down goes Zebra!"
    Suppertime for the King ...
    Ecstasy and Elation for the Queen!



    Nature and her gifts are my inspiration.

  16. Bill Yox

    Bill Yox Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I guess I wouldnt call most of those mounts "doing it right" any more then what dennis has already done. The point is, sure we all know whats accurate, including females making the kill, but we as taxidermists have the artistic license to make it as interesting and viewable as other art is. None of us are going to mount our lion and zebra like the majority of those "life" pics. They just are not that interesting. real, yes, but not so exciting.
  17. JE

    JE Well-Known Member

    Am I the only one that thinks the real lions depicted do not show the same level of muscular, sinewy type bodies/limbs that some of the "correct" displays exhibit.
  18. Nyati

    Nyati I love tahr huntin

    Ken Walker tells me that the loin and buffalo mount is in the Berring mammal Hall at the Smithsonian Institute in D.C. It was done by Animal Artistry and donated to the museum.
  19. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Thank you Bill. I couldn't agree more which does lend itself to our own hypocracy of opinions in how mounts are judged.

    Nyati, I recognized that mount instantly when I noticed the okapi behind it. Ask Ken to tell you THAT story. LOL
  20. *

    * Liberalism IS A MENTAL ILLNESS !

    LIKE DEJU"VU ::)
    I rermeber working on some of those mounts at AA
    Hey, RDA bring back any memories ??? ;D ;D ;D ;D