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Alligator head help

Discussion in 'Reptile Taxidermy' started by skinningman, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. skinningman

    skinningman New Member

    I have done three three to four foot gator heads for friends and family. I have bought several videos and they are not very clear for the best way to preserve the heads. I have cleaned them all out real good and used my dremel with a small wire wheel to clean all the tight spots. The problem I keep having is the eyes skin shrinking and the snout wrinkling up. I clean them and then soak them in Denatured alcohol for about thirty minutes and then I let them dry. I then put them in a resoke bath to plump them back up. I set the eyes with paper towels wedged in first and get them set. After a day I remove the paper towels and I clay in the eyes resetting them as I go. But the clay doesn't seem to help from all the shrinkage. Would I be better to just inject preserve's it into the hide instead of the alcohol or is there a better way. These are simple mounts. No mouth inserts. Just cleaned out and then I spray on a sealer then Gloss them over. I don't want to get to involved a This is for friends and family I only charge them for any materials I need to use. I know I should charge but this helps to keep me busy. I would appreciate any help given. Thanks.

  2. The Ojibwa

    The Ojibwa Member

    Are you tanning? I had the same issues you described but I did not tan the skin because it was a small gator...my next one will be tanned for sure and hopefully that combats the shrinking issues...the nose was the worst for me. Apoxie sculpt is your friend!

  3. skinningman

    skinningman New Member

    Ni I am not tanning. The videos I have don't show how to tan the head. Only soak it then dry and then rehydrate. I am not sure what to use to tan the heads. Should I just use snake and reptile tan and pickle then tan the heads. The tapes are very vague and I wouldn't recommend them to anyone. I am trying to get an apprentice job and maybe learn some more. But I am hoping to figure this out as I have a 9 foot head someone wants done and until I can get it right I don't want to ruin it. This one is for money. Thanks for your response. Mike
  4. skinningman

    skinningman New Member

    The first two gator heads I did were bigger and they gave me no problems, but I closed off the back off the heads and stuffed them. Maybe I should have done that with these last ones. I was just doing a simple mount with DP.
  5. skinning man, if you have removed the upper pallets, and removed the brain case and all meat in the head and uper sinus area etc, you shoudl then pickle and tan the head like any other reptile. Wash of after tanning, and then set the eyes using epoxie sculptor clay and then back this up with a poured layer of bondo rewsin like you would if doing a regular mount. a 30 minute soak in DN is not really any where enough time to preserve anything. what videos do you have that do not show this proces?
  6. skinningman

    skinningman New Member

    Wetnwild I have two videos I bought from Dan Chase, which I see now was probably a mistake. I did my first two heads the same way. but I guess that was a mistake. But I had more room to pack in more clay and the I used an insert and closed of the back of the head with Mache and painted. But they show no tanning in the videos, just a quick soak then DP. I removed the upper palate and the gullet. I chiseld off the inner bone on the lower jaw and I chiseled out the brain cavity. I scrapped the entire head with my scalpel, brain hook and a small spoon. I then sprinkled in some DP and used my dremmel with a small soft wire brush on it and cleaned it all out. I did not use any inserts, but I used clay after the first day so I had a little better control of the eye movement. If you can please suggest a better video I would really appreciate your help. I am glad this was for friends and family, but I have 5 more small heads to do like this that I am getting paid for. But I can't afford to mess up something that they are paying for. I have two more 4ft heads to practice with first. Also thanks I never though about bondo resin. I am still new to this as I have only been doing it for about 8 or 9 months now, and I have a lot of things to learn. That is why I like this site so much. A lot of great information some from very talented people. Thanks again. Mike
  7. Mike. our new video which is in the editing stages right now is doing a 7 footer on a commefial mennequin. It does however go through the head cleaning out, and shows the eye installation, upper pallet rebuilding, lower tongue assembly and cistom mouth inserts which you can easily make.It also ges through the tanning steps. Since it is mounted on a mannequib, it does however not show how to finish off just the back of the head. I have done them before and we will also be doing a video on doing just head mounts which is what you are doing.A simple way of doing it though, is to place the head on a sheet of thin plywood, and cit it so it goes from the tip of the bottom jaw, to about an inch back of the lower jaw bones. then take a piece of plastic sheeting, and staple it to the top of the head, and have it wrap around the back of the head with a smooth transition, then down to the sheet of plywood. Then expandable foam is poyred down the throat and into this area. It is alowed to free rise into the plastic sheeted area, maiking a nice hard smooth backing for your head. It can then be covered with a number of epoxies to rebuild a scale texture, or just covered with buckskin, or felt to give a nice professional clean backing to youre head. then you can do the finish work in the mouth. Hope this helps
  8. skinningman

    skinningman New Member

    WetnWild, Yeah thanks that helps a lot. Can you tell me when your video will be coming out. I would like to try the tan on it, and see just exactly how you did the rebuild, and cast the mouth. Thanks. Mike
  9. Should be done in another few eeks, Mary is hard at work on it
  10. Skinningman i may have missed something but did you say the eyes werte shrinking...did you mean the orbital sockets or the actual eye itself?
  11. bill@hogheaven

    [email protected] New Member

    Elkie thats a common problem when you dont use glass eyes. The real ones shrink you dummy.
  12. I know that thats why i was gonna ask to find out before I made the suggestion you ass
  13. bill@hogheaven

    [email protected] New Member

    Elkie....you are to dumb to know youre dumb.
  14. redwolf

    redwolf Active Member

    LMAO. Bill you don't use the real eyes? ::) :D
  15. I saw them processing some gators down in Fla....the quick method they used in setting the eye sockets was inserting dowel rods after they removed the real eyes...but i dunno much more than what i saw...and that they cauterized the back of the head by holding it by the nose after propping the jaws open and running a blowtorch over it...I don't think it was the real taxidermy way of doing it though...seemed to fast, but they were making those mass produced alligator heads you can buy practically everywhere in Fla/La area
  16. skinningman

    skinningman New Member

    No I used glass eyes but the area below the lower lid and across the snout shrunk. It looks bug eyed. I put clay behind them abd spread it across and made it thicker behind the eye to support it but the hide is just shrinking up. No real eyes.......LOL

  17. psycho

    psycho 2011 WORLD CHAMPIONS!

    You don't think that was the right way? :eek: ;D I can assure you it IS NOT the right way and doesn't even come close. Nothing they do during the whole pocess is right when it comes to that CRAP... Crap because that is EXACTLY what that whole process is.

    Skinningman, your only charging for materials? ??? I suppose your time is free. I have a lot of sweeping and stuff that needs done since you do things for free. Let me know if you can make it to Illinois. :eek: ;) ;D You do need Tom's new DVD if you plan on doing any more. It is a much higher quality product than the CRAP you already purchased to watch.
  18. skinningman

    skinningman New Member

    Psycho, yes the videos were a waste of money and I am waiting for wet-n-wild to release his video for the last two heads I have left. As for what I charge well I don't charge family or close friends just starting out, Also I do this for a hobby not to make A living. I am 100 percent disabled vet and retired from the Post Office on disability. I don't need the money, just something to help fill my time. I take my time and I do the work when I have free time. As for sweeping your shop, well sorry I can clean my work area. I retired young at 45 and just want to enjoy my life know. No worries about a business.

    But I have a deer hide rug that is making me 150 cash, and a European head mount to do that I am making 200 cash for. So I make some money when I want from people referred to me. Just whatever mood i am in. I don't take offense to what you wrote. Makes sense, If it were a business for me. Thanks for helping me to know wetnwilds video is definitely what I need.

  19. skinningman

    skinningman New Member

    Wetnwild I hope you can keep me posted to when your Video comes out and were to get it. Thanks. Mike
  20. Psycho one of the thing I could never understand is when they mass produce those alligator heads (it was like watching chickens being slaughtered at a chicken factory)...They use those dumb marble looking red balls as eyes instead of trying to make them look realistic...and for the big guys they just cut their heads of with a chainsaw and propane torched the backsides...I have one i picked up from the trip I didn't get the BIG one i wanted which came from a 15 footer (it was about 250 bucks)....Seemed to me to be a watse of perfectly good alligaators for commercial tourism use...but them again they number in the thousands or millions down there in Fla/La even including the farm raised ones.