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My method of mounting Blue Crabs w/ paint schedule

Discussion in 'Tutorials' started by George, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.


    I've been doing blue crabs for over 20 years and I've never had this urge to make a living doing them. Few people are willing to pay what I charge. It's the finishing that takes time and it's taken me almost 15 years to get a paint schedule down to where I feel comfortable with it.

    I never crack a shell. When I get them alive, they go in the freezer for a day. Usually they're already dead, so I contact glue two pieces of cardboard together. I sit down with the crab and about a half pint of Touchstone 4in1 injection fluid and an insulin syringe. Every joint of every leg is injected. The body cavity gets almost half the fluid until it seeps out. With my magnifier I open the mouth parts, put a drop or two of superglue inside and carefully set the parts back in place.

    I put the crab on the cardbord and use T pins, 3 inch japan pins and even sharpened pieces of 12 gage wire. I secure the shell in place by pinning between the apron and the flippers and then elevate the head slightly. I pin the legs out symmetrically and then elevate the pincers and open them accordingly. I pin the antennae and superglue the bases. Then it's to the shop attic. In summer time, it takes about a month, but later in the year can take 6.

    When dry, I bring it down and I just break off the antennae. It just saves time in that no matter how careful you are, you'll end up breaking one or both of them anyway. I carefully turn the crab over and with a Dremel and a bit, I cut open the bottom of the shell to just inside the leg joints leaving me a 3 inch hole. With forceps and a fish cleaning tool, I remove all the dried meat, "dead men's fingers" (gills) and break out the thin boney walls. Then perfectly clean, I spray it with lacquer thinnner to wash away any grease or oil. Then I mix Bondo with resin and enough hardener to make it hot. I pour the Bondo into the shell and quickly insert a bent #8 wire to stand vertically and allow to cure. Now I have a popsicle crab to work with. I take a 6 inch piece of 20 lb monofilament. I take my scalpel and scrape both ends until they're hair thin and cut off them off about 2 inches. I use Epo-Grip Clear paste and a dot on the base end is sufficient to attach it to the antennae stub. I pose them and hold them for about 5 minutes till they cured and my antennae are back in place.

    I mix about 3 ounces (2 ounce "A" and 1 "B") of Epo-Grip Ultra Clear epoxy and spray the crab heavily. I set the wire in the cardboard and let it cure for 24 hours. This insures that all the joints have now been reinforced and are much less likely to "break" when I'm finishing.

    It takes me about 4 hours to paint one "properly". I use transparents and opaques with lots of carding and touchups. I then finish the paint job with a clear gloss and let it cure overnight.

    Next day, it's back to the Ultra Clear with 3 more ounces sprayed to sandwich the paint and reinforce the fragile parts. It cures for another 24 before I run my "popsicle" wire through a basket lid (I also sometimes cut a luan circle 14 inches wide. I mix a few drops of yellow ocre into foam and pour over the luan. As it foams, I sprinkle sand over the foam to give it a " beach" effect for those who want that.)

    Paint Schedule:
    Epo-Grip Ultra Clear – This is a crystal clear spray epoxy. When the crab is ready to paint, this coat needs to be sprayed heavily over the entire crab. It strengthens the shell. (Now is also the time to replace the antennae. Take 20 lb. monofilament and with a scalpel, scrape the end to a fine taper. The “antennae” will be rippled during this process and look very realistic when attached with a spot of Epo-Grip Clear Paste.) Let dry 24 hours.

    Superhide White - Coat the entire crab with a heavy coat.

    Light Bass Green - Get in very close and mist all the bottom and leg joints with this color. Make sure to outline and detail the mouth parts. Apply just enough to give the crab a yellow accent on these joints.

    Medium Bass Green – From above, put a medium coat of this color on the back shell while using a card to cover the legs. Blend the color so that there are two large yet vague “spots” on either side of the back shell. Shade the legs from the tips inward. Use good reference so you don’t take it too far.

    Superhide White - Get in extremely close to the top of the back shell and randomly place small white dots around on the shell’s front half. Go underneath the crab and reapply over any oversprayed areas that must be white during the finish.

    Chocolate Brown – Mist over the areas covered with Medium Bass Green until you attain the values you like. The sawtooth edges need to be darker than the body. Mist over the white spots taking care not to eliminate them. Mist over the Medium Bass Green on the legs.

    Bright Yellow - Get in close and go over the joints of the crab with a fine mist. Limit overspray to retain the white. Using a card again, spray a medium coat on the back to give the brown toned down a bit. Then go to the legs and mist them limiting your overspray.

    Scale Detail Green - From above, mist this color down to blend the browns and yellows together to give the crab an off color green effect.

    Superhide White - Go back and eliminate any overspray that may have occurred on areas that need brilliant white.

    Sailfish Blue - This color is applied in a medium to heavy coat on the underside of the claws and legs. It should be lightly misted on the tips of all the legs and very lightly on the back flippers to give them a green tint.

    Bright Orange – Get in very close and paint the feathery edges on the crab’s legs. At each joint and on the sawtooth edge of the top shell, there is a medium to heavy coat needed for the spots and tips only. Control overspray. On the claws, the “teeth” and the tip of the claw need light to medium coats to give it the rust and orange appearance.

    Wet Look Gloss – After your paint dries, mist a coat of this to lock down your paint. After that dries, apply a heavier coat and let dry overnight

    Epo-Grip Ultra Clear – Spray this final coat to sandwich your colors and lock down your paint schedule. Let dry 24 hours.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
    Reeven Fontenot likes this.
  2. Kevin Halle

    Kevin Halle Well-Known Member

    Thanks George, I might have to try one of those critters!

  3. hodx

    hodx Herman Darr

    i still rather open the shell....mine dry in less then a week....like anything else , everybodys got there own way of doing things.,,,i inject the legs only with 50-50 DA and DP... saved me the trouble of doing a tutorial...thanks George
  4. coonhollow

    coonhollow Active Member

    George thank you! have to try out a few ..
  5. RDA

    RDA Active Member

    Very NICE George!
  6. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    CrabCrazy, I like your idea for the rush jobs and the late season ones. I'll give it a try.
  7. farikhah

    farikhah really really want develop taxidermy in my country

    Thank you for the lessons Mr George
  8. 7-Point

    7-Point Active Member

    Thanks for showing us your way of mounting a crab George. I'll have to catch one and try it.
  9. thanks for sharing what it took years to tweak, good tutoral George!
  10. rbear

    rbear Well-Known Member

    George nice looking crab you have there.
  11. dermy

    dermy Psalm 23

    Need some Zatarain's and Butter to go with it, Nice work, it looks alive, makes my mouth water :)
  12. Manny

    Manny New Member

    Nice work George !
  13. scanman

    scanman New Member

    Nice tutorial George, shame there are no blue crab in western PA it would be cool to try. LOL
  14. Nice! Thanks for sharing that info George! If only we had them running around South Dakota!!
  15. Donna1

    Donna1 June 1965 Panama

    George...where do you get those basket lids? I've been mounting my crabs on fake rocks and large clam shells, but the basket lids can hang on the wall, right?
  16. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Yes Donna, they come with their own hangers. LOL. I cheat a bit. I go to the docks and buy a bundle of lids off the crabbers. There are 10 to a bundle I think and I gave $20 for them. Don't know what they cost, just asked what he wanted.
  17. Donna1

    Donna1 June 1965 Panama

    thank you George ;D
  18. FishWorks

    FishWorks New Member

    George, not knocking your preservation method, but why wouldn't you just steam the crab, take it apart, clean and put back together. then paint. seems to me you have much more time invested just cleaning out a shell.

    Attached Files:

  19. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Probably because it's too time consuming for me to bother with. Inject and let dry, open the bottom of the shell and clean out the lungs guts and meat up to the claw and leg attachments and paint. I can only imagine what putting the jigsaw puzzle of crab parts back together would take.
  20. snowhare

    snowhare New Member