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Looking for taxidermist advice on Salvaging a "fantasy" display piece

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by morninghawk, Aug 29, 2009.

  1. Hello to all,
    This may be my first and only post in this forum as I may literally get laughed right out of here. Several years ago I created a life sized sculpture of a dragon of my own design. I consulted lots of taxidermy sites for material tips and form building- they were all a fantastic help. However after several moves and an accident with a U Haul, my dragon creation (Arakho) has become unstable and damaged. :'( The head section of this Full Body "mount" is still solid and I would like to keep it. I don't need advise on how to remount him yet as much as "artistic opinions". I keep bouncing back and forth between a wall orientated shoulder mount and effectively a free standing post mount. From the shoulders through the neck to the back of the skull has all been reinforced with fiberglass. So I'm not worried about the neck continuing to be able to support the head. But because of the size Arakho's skeletal support is lacking and his legs are literally going out from under him. So the vast majority of his body mount is useless for support. However there's almost 1000$ and 3 years of work in this piece, and it would be a waste to have to toss so much. All four feet are busted (toes missing) however his hide is still in good condition. As amusing as it sounds I could effectively skin him and have a 20ft dragon hide on my wall :D. The only comparison I can make between a wall shoulder mount and a post is that the wall mount would be less risky to the remainder of the mount, and the other I have the potential to keep the cape and perhaps some of that 10 ft tail I made. I don't want topost my website in fear that some one might think I'm spamming. But I do have pictures of him if you guys want something to go on.
    Thanks for your time and any advice or opinions you guys have to lend- I really want to bring him back- if only in part.
    thanks again
    Alicia McNally
  2. I take it you did not reinforce your form with steal rods? You should have have put steal rods or something inside your form to add additional strength through its neck for support and up into his legs. You can send me you pics and I can post them hear to give people more of a visual and maybe you will get more responses.


  3. Pics please. I'm sure with some pics We'll all be able to help you, Sounds like you need some extra reinforcing like JSeiler said. Simple easy fix. But pics would help a whole lot.
  4. Originally I was going to use steel rods used in livestock fencing, however no one (including the two taxidermist I consulted with recommended I use them as there was no way to guaranty a seal against rust and staining while I was building up effectively muscle components.Also there was the weight issue, the one felt that with it being a larger full body mount that it would add too much weight. I used fiberglass poles, for weight and flexibility. It was the latter that has destroyed the feet I spent month making. It was a prototype and I didn't have forms to pour foam either. The core frame is heavy stainless wire net, layered with paper mache another layer of wire net and then the open space was filled with an expanding foam. The fiberglass poles are wired and fiber glassed right to that core wire frame- I will have to use power tools to get though that ::). The problem in the original design came into play when it was exposed to 3 weeks of high humidity. the wire frame started to buckle from the moisture and it was recommended that I strip off the scaling and reinforce it with fiberglass and resin... The frame was not designed to withstand that amount of weight. The original frame was fine when Arakho only weighed 50 lbs. adding the fiberglass added another 15-20 lbs. What can I say you try you learn- it's not like they have a book on Dragon Taxidermy. And really that was the look I was going for, so detailed and natural looking it looked like a hunter might have shot the thing. It's ok ppl have called me crazy over this project- I'm used to it. I'll send you the picture but here are the size specs...in case anyone is interested.
    length nose to tip of tail: 20.5ft wingspan: 18.5 ft height: 5ft 2 in his base was 8x4 ft and 2 ft high.He is scaled from snout to tip of tail every place realistically conceivable. There were over 50 sheets of poster board cut by hand to make his scales which were laid in one at a time.
    Yeah we had to rent a u haul to get him around.
    Let me know what you think, like I said I put a lot of work into this guy I'd like to at least save part of it.
  5. Very Cool. Do you have any pics of the damage?

    From you description... What Kinda foam did you fill the hollow core with? A commercail 2 part foam or the stuff out of the can?

    For future Refrence... You should have used the steel rods... or at least an All thread rod of a minimum of 3/4" dia. Welded box tubing would have been better, then Built just like you did. Rod frame with chicken wire/mache "Form". Then Filled the space between the wire and Steel rods with a Commercial Taxidermy Quality 2 part foam, There would have been NO bleed thru of any rust as it would have all been safely contained within the mache and foam. And It would have been able to support major handling.

    Depending on the density of the exhisting foam in his body and legs you might still be able to sharpen a steel rod and drive it up the leg to support it. Then fix the feet/toes.
  6. I'd thought I'd put in a few others...
    Unfortunately none of the photos were taken with him on his base...He stood taller than a lot of adult men and little kids ran in fear... OK I'm going to pretend that didn't amuse me... :-X

    I hope that I accomplished that natural feel for this piece...even though it's of a "fantasy" nature. I even went and wrote up this whole biology for him. :D LOL :D it's ridiculous. Yeah uh he eats sheep and deer native to the mountain range of the Buriat mountains in Siberia. Don't worry kid you're too bony...*giggle*
  7. I can haul him outside for a bit today and take pics but I will have to wait till my husband gets up to help me. A lot of the damage came from an accident. Someone almost hit my husband driving the U haul leaving a show in West Bend and the heavy 8x4ft base broke free and slammed into him breaking both left feet and effectively damaging the foundation to the left wing. I've since noticed his feet and legs don't sit on his base where they should won't stay where they should and he's lost a good foot of height from the slippage in his hips and shoulders. His right rear leg wobbles from the hip. When he's not bearing his own weight you can see how much play there is now in his legs. There is a good 10 to 15 degrees of movement. The foam filler was recommended by the taxidermist to make sure the core didn't collapse- I wouldn't have thought of it. It was a can of expanding window and door insulation. I giggled everytime I went into the hardware store. "so will this expand, and keep it's form or will it shrink? Will it stop expanding when it's filled up the available space? What do I want it for? Oh Uh a dragon. Hey do I need venting holes for this??" Those looks really take the cake. :D :D
  8. If you had used the taxidermist quailty foam it might have held... But the spray can stuff is WAY too weak... I can't remember the densitys off hand but is something like 1 pound density in the can and 5 or 6 pound in the Taxidermy 2 part foam.

    If you just want to salvage part of it... Not the whole thing. I'd cut it off where you want it, Carve out as much of the weak foam as possible, Re-Rod it with threaded rod for a standalone pedistal or thru a plywood backboard for a wall mount, and refoam with a QUALITY taxidermy foam, avaliable thru Research mannikens or Mackenzie Taxidermy supply.

    Similar process if you want to try to salvage the whole mount... Remove the weak foam, add rods and refoam. You might have to make him attach to his base permanently to prevent further damage.
  9. yeah he's so big and the structure I'm not sure is salvageable so I'm going a bit smaller ( cause well I want to keep him show him and NOT have to rent a U haul to do it) ;D from Wing claw to wing claw is 3.5 ft- I can't really get him in a standard door.
    So in your opinions since (I can't decide) would you guys go shoulder wall mount or pedestal mount and if the latter what would you try to salvage? I could probably get a good length of his cape and his tail is sound- dirty but sound. The wing base area will be hard as it was also fiberglass reinforced. the wings are 5 ft height and 6ft length and I'm not real happy with them. They're flimsy at best.
  10. hidey

    hidey New Member

    How did you do his eyes? those are kool!! BUt i agree you could probly re-rod and save a lot of it. id hate to see him go he's awesome!
  11. Well unfortunately his head and shoulders will probably be the only the only thing salvageable :'( we went to move him and we noticed his lean was much worse than when we looked last. I grabbed his wing to get a better grip to hoist him up and it pulled right out... Looks like the core foam has started to disintegrate and worse yet he may be rotting internally.the support beams that were wired right to his frame came right out with no effort- I almost fell because I wasn't expecting it.right now I have him tied at his core frame by ropes...I think it time to put him out of his misery... :'(
    I'm pretty sure the inner frame is starting to buckle
  12. regrettably we wound up cutting into him to see if he's actually rotting. his core is still sound *sigh of relief* one wing is beyond saving and part of the tail is wet and visible rotting. :'( We decided to cut him 3 inches behind the wing joint (mid ribcage) and cut there. Upon inspection of his innards the foam indeed did collapse which is why his frame was giving out. Will take your advice on the foam -I'm glad you suggested it thank you I would have just refilled it with the crap I had. :p
    total salvage right wing, 6ft section of tail, and front of mount including front legs... that rear half is too badly gone.
    There were some tears - I'm not even going to lie about that, but not all is lost- I hope. So I guess if I keep the front legs there is new supports and one new front foot needed. At least now he's back in a climate controlled environment- I'm not racing against the elements and time. Let me know if you want me to keep you guys posted.. thanks for the advice on the foam.
    Oh and those eyes... I made them by hand from pieces of glass I craved from behind with diamond dremmel bit it was then polished, painted, given white glass backings and set into PVC clay sculpted to the size of the sockets. I didn't have the Van Dykes catalog I have now to order nifty eyes. Since Arakho I have 2 new dragon I was supposed to work on. Both are wall mounts, one is a custom design again, the other is a muflon sheep form that a friend of my husband's wants me to turn into a Silver Dragon from D&D (3.5 edition) Since all the problems with Arakho it's been hard to work on either.
  13. michael p.

    michael p. Getting better with age :)

    That things f'ing cool!
  14. nibjones

    nibjones Join your States Taxidermy Assoc.

    To bad it didn't hold that is SWEET!! Nice job creating him.