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wrapping your own small mammal bodies

Discussion in 'Lifesize Mammals' started by birdgirl, Apr 1, 2007.

  1. birdgirl

    birdgirl full service taxidermy, specializing in waterfowl

    I have been doing more lifesize mammals this year than ever before and have a few extras of my own in the freezer to do and was wanting to maybe try my hand at wrapping my own forms.If I could learn how to do this, I could have the poses that I want without being limited to what forms are available in the catalogs.I also have an animal for which forms are not available that I want to mount so it woud be very helpful.I am mainly interested in how to measure the carcasses correctly, how to do the head, if to use the real skull is best, how the legs are given support etc. any info on how to get more info or someone who does this type of work on a regular basis can pm me it would be great.
  2. LK

    LK New Member

    You'll have to research the old books. Definately a lost art these days, but it can be done. That's one good thing about learning taxidermy through the 70's when the old ways were still available. You'll never get the detail that you will with a good foam form but its a good thing to know how to do. Carcass casting is another method for odd species and sizes, haven't done much with that myself though.

  3. birdgirl

    birdgirl full service taxidermy, specializing in waterfowl

    I have a domestic cat I want to try and mount, so would a wrapped, cast or altered commercial form be the way to go?
  4. Wayne R

    Wayne R NRA and B&C Life Member

    Birdgirl, It really isn't any different than the bodies you may wrap for birds. One of best at wrapping bodies from scratch is Jean Lavallee out of NH. He is on here as JL and usually attends the NEAT convention, where I've seen some of his handy work. He gets the bodies wrapped tight with plenty of defintion through out. If you are able to contact him I'm sure he would be able answer any questions you may have on wrapping your own mammal bodies. With any luck maybe he will see this post.
  5. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    Thanks for the kudos Wayne. Birdgirl wrapping bodies is as easy as altering a foam body, only you use string and wood excelsior instead of foam. Measure each limb and the main body of whatever you are mounting and add material in just enough quantity to match your measurements and wind them in good and tight. Make each part in such a way that you can tie it all into one manikin. Here are 2 tips that will help you a great deal. (1)-Most important is to soak the excelsior in hot water the day before you will wind the bodies. This is much the same as steaming a hardwood rib before bending it to make a canoe and will allow you to wrap a tighter body.Put your detail in by passing a long needle and string through the parts and pull the stitch tight to form creases where you want them. (2)- You can smooth the surface of the parts with a plaster rub finish that will accept hide glue after it dries and you can sand in a lot of details. Here's my offer...give me your youth and I'll give you my experience...lol Good luck JL
  6. birdgirl

    birdgirl full service taxidermy, specializing in waterfowl

    that is an offer I cant refuse! I will glady take any advice you have and I get the idea of it, where can I purchase the excelsior and how do you start your string on the wrapping of say , the leg, and what about the head.How do you do the head? if you want to email me, I left you a pm with my email
  7. TrailsEnd

    TrailsEnd Don't forget the elderly, the young and disabled

    My father is 87 and he still wraps a lot. I wrap some too. I like to get a headfrom the correct size, cut at the base of the skull and incorporate it onto the body. I use a stiff wire bondoed into the form and start wrapping the length of the body.. You should take lots of measurements and good reference. I like to have the skinned out carcass on hand to get the correct body and leg shapes.I wrap the legs seperately on their own wires, run the wires through the correct place on the body and cinch them in. You are right about the positions, you can get creative. Don't become discouraged at first. It takes practice. VanDykes has the excelsior. I like the fine stuff.
  8. trappersteph

    trappersteph now you can have it...

    I would like to see the process in photos if possible, this would make a great series of articles in Breakthrough. Also really detailed written info as well to go with the pics. I have some whole black muskrats in the freezer and 1 giant normal colored one. I would like to do a piece with the giant one and a black one swimming and dodging a swimming mink.

    I also have 2 squirrel monkeys in the freezer and would rather make a form than freeze dry them. In addition are some small martens, I have the skins tanned and a skinned carcass in the freezer, maybe best to carve the bodies on these and do the hot glue legs and tails. But I would like to see much info on dealing with using the real skulls.
  9. Correct me if I am wrong on this, but one of the chapters in the Breakthrough Mammal Manual is one wrapping a body.. I think they use a badger with a cast head, and show how to make the head cast also...

  10. lee tees valley

    lee tees valley tweety luvva.

    i use the real skull when wrapping small mammal form's . what i do is cut as much flesh off the skull as i can remove the brain's tongue ect then i place the skull in boiling water with a handfull of salt or borax for a few minutes then i take it out and clean the rest of the flesh nasal passeges and the roof of the mouth off on larger mammal's fox badger i will simmer the skull for 15 minutes . once all flesh has been removed i wash the skull in warm soapy water as i am doing so i give it a good scrub with an old toothbrush then i dust the skull with borax and let it dry overnight then i rebuild the muscle detail with epoxy sculpt i fill the brain cavity and nasal passage with epoxy sculpt then i put a loop on the end of the wire which i will be using for the spine and embed this in the brain cavity when the epoxy has dried you are ready to shape the wire and wrap your form.. lee... ;)
  11. oldterryr

    oldterryr Terry's in Heaven with no worries at all.

    excelsior available from mckenzie - i would use a replacement head in place of skull
  12. birdgirl

    birdgirl full service taxidermy, specializing in waterfowl

    I am thinking of casting the head or carving one, I know how to do both, have made some duck feet and heads with great success.
  13. Keith

    Keith Well-Known Member

    So far, all good suggestions.

    Carve a skull from foam, or if you are old school, balsa wood. Make a tracing of the pose you want using the carcass in that same postition. Bend a wire around this tracing, making it slightly smaller. Then fill this wire outling with damp excelsior wrapping with string, really tight, to make a flat pancake. You can now bend this as a back bone to your pose. fill both sides of this profile with excelsior using your carcass as reference.

    For the legs cut and carve wood leg bones and tie them together at the joints, run wire along these "bones", and wrap with excelsior replacing the mucles. Leave the ends somewhat loose so when you wire the legs to the main body you can continue to wrap and make a smooth transition between the legs and body. Wire the foam skull in place, blending in the excelsior at the neck. Let the excelsior dry a day or two. Paint several coats of shelac over all the excelsior and let dry. This will really stiffen the excelsior making it like a flexi form, yet still allow you to move the legs and body somewhat. Mount like a conventional body.

    I have used this method a few times. It takes some time but results are good. Years ago Forest Hart had an article in American Taxidermist describing this method.

    If whomever I borrowed my copy to is reading this, I would really like that magazine back!!!!!