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Advice/Experiences on Foam Body Forms

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by [email protected], Jan 11, 2018.

  1. Hello All,

    I'm an avian taxidermist mostly working on small song birds. I'm looking to expand into foam body forms now. Any advice on your experience working with custom foam bodies for small birds is very much appreciated. Pro's - Con's?

    My questions are:

    What type of foam do you recommend?

    What tools will I need to carve/shape the foam?

    Where do you think I should purchase such supplies from?
    (I'm guessing Mackenzie)

    Thanks you for your time! :D
  2. Museum Man

    Museum Man Well-Known Member

    I have carved my song bird bodies for 45 years. in the beginning all were carved from balsa wood. extremely sturdy and hold wires perfectly. in the later years switched to foam just for the convenience and speed of carving. you can get the two part foam that the suppliers sell. I simply save tons of foam parts I cut off of forms when altering them and that gives me a nearly endless supply of enough foam to carve thousands of song bird size bodies. carve with a sharp knife, small rasp or fine sandpaper after drawing an outline of the body and then using the original as an overall size guide while carving your foam form.
    bigrick_2u and George like this.

  3. I was tempted to try the balsa wood next but decided on foam instead. This is great knowledge, I'm ordering some foam and a rasp this evening. Very excited to try my hand at foam bodies in addition to wrapped wood excelsior bodies. I think versatility in multiple kinds of body forms will be great. Thank you!!
  4. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Ron Anderson showed me how to use floral foam on small birds. It was the green open cell stuff. Just get it cut out close and then just use your fingers crush it into the shape you want.
  5. Museum Man

    Museum Man Well-Known Member

    that foam just doesn't hold the wire as tight in my opinion. I prefer something more sturdy
    George likes this.
  6. Ron, I had that thought too. But my concern was that of Museum Man's...the inadequacy of strength of floral foam to support that of wires.

    I've since ordered some balsa foam blocks from blick art materials for practice:


    I'll let you know how their strength works out, pros/cons. After I work through those balsa foam blocks, I'm going to make some 'bird loaf' as museum man suggests.

    Thanks for both of your input on the questions!
  7. Museum Man

    Museum Man Well-Known Member

    nothing is better for songbirds than balsa. no cons just pros once you get used to using it you will wonder how you used anything else.
    George and [email protected] like this.
  8. I aim to try balsa some time in the future after foam. I've seen great results with it on other Taxidermists work.
  9. So to follow up about my experience with the balsa foam blocks...

    It’s density has proven easy to carve yet strong enough to hold wire (18-27 gauge). For anyone wanting to try this material out, I only recommend it for small birds. Larger birds will use lower gauge wire (8-16) hence the body material will have to be dense enough (8lb foam) to support the larger gauge wire. You can purchase balsa foam from @blickartmaterials. It’s a wee bit messy but so much more fun than wrapping wood wool forms. A good shop vac should clean up the pil-o-dust pretty easily.

    Also, wear eye protection/mask when working with this material. It does have some weight to individual particles but if you get a breeze or let out a big SIGH after carving 40 bodies in a row..you might get some dust going airborne, so protect those peepers and airways!!

    You do have to be careful not to tug wire to fast or in the wrong direction when placing in your foam form, as it will rip through the foam. But the results are great and make for a very smooth, groomed bird in the end.

    Last edited: Feb 23, 2018
    BeckyBird and Wildthings like this.