I met Ken Walker at the World Taxidermy Championships in May. Ken is famous for his replica work and all around amazing taxidermy. He was in need of some Los Angeles sunshine -- oh and did I mention he said he'd teach me how to make a replica Panda?! He won the WTC in 2005 with his life-size replica. So, Ken headed down to my studio, Prey Taxidermy in Los Angeles and the results are below. Ken brought some amazing reference to help with carving the form. He carves all his forms, which is pretty incredible. Here you can see a cast Panda skull from Bone Clones, teeth casts made from that and some actual mouth/eye casts from Tsing Tsing the Panda. (Thank you, Paul Rhymer!) By holding the skull up against a big piece of paper, or in this case foam, Ken drew an outline of the pedestal form we'll be creating. Just to give us some idea of where we were going (and because it's so cute!), Ken sculpted a tiny Panda. We poured up some polyurethane foam (4 pound density) and traced the template onto it. Then, cut it out by sections - head and shoulder. Using the skull, visual reference on the computer and his casts, Ken worked the head of the panda with a stout rougher and some rasps. Hey, why not make a detour and take a behind the scenes tour of Bone Clones?! They were nice enough to give us a tour and talk to us about some upcoming projects we're planning. Ken has a basic head form and the shoulder for our Panda carves from the polyurethane. This will be the position, a nice head turn and we decided to do an open mouth as well. Ken cuts the lower jaw wear it would naturally hinge by looking at the skull. Using the cast he brought and the skull, Ken took a mold from each and cast a mouth set and nose. He added Magic Sculpt with some pigment to for the gums. The nose and the jaws have been added to the head form using foam and bondo. We held the jaw in just the right pose for eating bamboo and foamed it back together. Head placement set with wires as the neck. The neck wires were wrapped in plastic and foam poured in to create the neck. We used two black bear capes for this project that were the same size-- one very dark black and other one extremely light brown. The black ears were cut off the cape and cut shorter more like a panda. We ended up using fiberglass cloth and bondo for the ears. Ken cut the eyes off the black cape and pinned them to the form, tucking and molding as he went. We used Grey Fox eyes as Panda's have the split pupil. We used some bleach to lighten the lighter cape. This gave us some cape issues later, but came out very nice You can see here the darker areas that Ken cut out for our black areas. http://i.imgur.com/wktaRjq.jpg We had to take a break for some Karaoke-- where Ken got his nick name 'K-Town'. We rented a private Karaoke room and I invited all my lovely lady friends. Ken covered the form with some clay to help sculpt in the muscles/ expression. You can see here that I made Ken make the same face as our Panda. With the white cape on it's starting to look like a Panda! The black pieces are pinned on from the outside until they are sewn. Ken has to shorted the snout on the cape for the Panda. Here I am, with the cape on the form, sewing the ears and eye patches on from the outside. Our cape was an older one so we had a few issues with stretch after the bleaching as well, so we didn't want to push our luck. Panda's also have black shoulders and chest-- so we went back to adding the blacker cape along the bottom. Ken works in the Magic Sculpt into the lips and creates the lip-line. You can see our cast of a Panda mouth and how Ken really uses reference. A man, a plan, a panda. And, some delicious Bamboo added for flair. Here's our final-ish product-- pinned and drying before I do some lip & nose work, painting and additional grooming. I also can't wait to get it on a nicer base with some bamboo behind him. We all named him 'Kenneth the Panda', of course. What an amazing learning experience! And, what would to LA be if it didn't entail a trip to the beach? Ken really enjoyed himself and I am forever grateful to him for his tutelage. Who gets to make a @#$%ing Panda?! Thank you, Ken Walker! Ken and I have some big plans ahead for some more amazing replica work, so watch out for that! BIG STUFF. Also, if anyone would like a Panda replica, let me know as he's asked me to broker that for him. Ken has a busy schedule, but could *possibly* make some time to come down to the states and work on more. We'd all love to have him back at Prey as soon as possible! I guess he's one of the 'Valley Girls' now.