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Caveat Emptor

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by George, May 10, 2017.

  1. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Every year I see beginners getting caught up in the snares that this industry simply can't keep itself out of. At some point in time, every taxidermist that I've ever known has suffered "burnout". I've been through it so often I think it's a permanent state with me now. But let me tell you an off-shoot of this that will just piss off 3/4 of the guilty guys here.

    In some instances, the scenario begins with their indoctrination. They learn and find that they have a talent. They continue to work and ultimately get involved into the competition scene. They're loved and adored by all for the work they do (and rightly so). But actual taxidermy begins to drag on them, yet bills have to be paid. After having enough satin hangin on the walls to feel self-important, they come up with the idea of TEACHING OTHERS.

    Remember, THERE IS NO STANDARD IN TAXIDERMY, but beginners enamored with being equally adored willingly pay large sums so this person can teach them how to be as great and beautiful as they are. Sadly, there are many forces at work here and even a light sabre won't save the day.

    One is the teacher. Though they may be gifted, teaching is an exercise that often is outside their purview. Ted Williams was the best hitter ever to play baseball, but when it came time to coach and manage a team, he was totally out of his element and failed badly.

    Two is the student. No matter how badly you wish it, if you don't have "magic" in your hands, the best instructor is going to fall short. Teaching the mechanics is one thing. Monkey's peel bananas by instinct, but have you ever seen a monkey plant a banana tree? A mechanic can work miracles on getting a car to work, but hasn't a clue as to the engineering required to come up with the invention. Same holds true with you. Talent simply can not be taught and though your mechanics may be flawless, your work can still look like crap if you can't "see" what you're looking at.

    Three, most instructors teach you only the techniques THEY use. Though there are hundreds of ways to tan a skin for taxidermy, you can bet your teacher has his own recipe in doing it. I know of no single instructor today who teaches the HISTORY of taxidermy before they start. Though it may sound unimportant to the instant gratification crew, it is vital in knowing the alternatives available should you need them.

    And lastly, YOU. If you develop habits before you go to class, 50% of your time and money will be wasted. Let's use deer. I see it so much more often than many would admit. Your teacher shepherds over you as you mount a deer in it's class. When you finish the class, your deer looks exactly like HIS deer and you'll revel in the results yourself. When you get home, you'll mount your second deer and it will look almost as good as the one you mounted in class......ALMOST. Then by the 3rd, 4th, 5th, the techniques that were so comfortable to you before you went start creeping back. You'll modify some of them but you'll also think that you like your way better than the teachers. By the end of the year, the deer you produce is no longer your teachers OR the old YOU, it's evolved into an entirely different style. If you'r going to hang around, that evolution will never stop. Some of it's good, some bad, but the standards you've set for your own work will constantly change.

    So I wish you well, but before you go, be willing to accept some responsibility for yourself. Being taught will not increase the value of your work. Only the exhibition of your talent will do that. And when it's all over, you'll find that you're still a guy who stretches the skin of a dead animal over a form.
    Jtown and harriekat like this.
  2. boogger47

    boogger47 Member

    Well spoken Sir.

  3. tomdes

    tomdes Me my dear and Fall BAZZ!!!

    Very good read George, and it's spot on!!
  4. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    Yep...you're right George. No one teaches alternative methods we learned the HARD WAY anymore. Only teach Snap & Paint Taxidermy now. 66 years ago had to wrap the bodies and make your own glue. Had to use clay to build a deer manikin and mold it in plaster, then paper and glue to lay up the finished manikin. lol. Don't really want to go back but I could if I had to. JL
    harriekat likes this.
  5. I'll bet 50% of taxidermist today would close up shop if the HAD to make their own forms or use the old paper forms as I started with,, I do a lot of my own carvings no more warps BUT I do know how if I had to. back in the day it was a talent, skill you might say, now it's assambly taxidermy,, hardest thing most have to do is skin the critter, and put it together like legos,,, well it all works I guess,, time marches on, Back in the day people knew how to shoe a horse,,, most people today can't even change a tire,, the way of the world in the 21st centery
    harriekat likes this.
  6. BrianHendricks

    BrianHendricks Member

    Yeah, I started that way also, but I'm also glad I'm not still driving a 1971 Pinto. I think it's called progress.
  7. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    Well written George. I've burned out time after time. I inject many non-taxidermy projects in my life to keep me from burning totally out.
  8. Rhino

    Rhino Too many irons in the fire will put the fire out!

    I made some stupid assumptions about competition Taxidermy earlier. My apologies for hijacking your thread George.

    Amy Carter did a mount that really changed my mind. It was a bobcat kitten hanging from a limb.

    How in the world she captured that "mischievous look" in the eyes of that cat is amazing to me! Anyone who has ever owned a cat has seen "that look" before. Hard to explain other than a look like that kitten is getting readt to pounce on another kitten.

    Anyway, exceptional achievement in this art form should be recognized on every level!

    It's the arrogant ones I can't stand!
    harriekat likes this.
  9. I learned by working in a shop in Mexico and the main helper was excellent in preparing the form, getting the hide to fit but when it came to finish work after 25 years he still needed the owner to do the finish work. He simply did not have the eye to bring the animal back to life. It's a gift that some have and others will never have no matter how hard they try.
    George and harriekat like this.
  10. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    We need a "Like" button on here. Great post Mark.
  11. AZ~Rich

    AZ~Rich " Africa" never fails to satisfy

    Like!!! and very true
  12. TomR

    TomR New Member

    Excellent post, George! I can always count on the unvarnished truth with you and greatly appreciate it.

    Keep up the great posts!
  13. No truer words spoken George. Like