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I Want to Step Up My Waterfowl Feet

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by boone90, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. boone90

    boone90 Dan Hastings

    I have been doing bird taxidermy since I was 11 as a hobby. Now at 28 I am heading towards making taxidermy my profession. I am proud of my birds and in a lot of ways and I feel like I am really starting to hit my stride with consistent quality. That said, my foot work is still lacking. I use masters blend to inject but I am falling well short of the results that I see from the artists whom I aspire to. I’m hoping for some advice to achieve that level of excellence...soft looking webbing, well painted, generally fleshy, supple appearance. Here are some photos of my latest duck, a blonde hen mallard. The right hand foot on the show side looks pretty good in my opinion. Other photos reveal the less than desirable attributes that I am trying to remedy. My process included injecting water to fully plump and rehydrate following washing. I inject the masters blend towards the end of the mounting process. In this case I even did a subsequent injection the following morning to try to catch the missed spots. I use a string tied at the top of the foot to “trap” the masters Blend from leaving the foot. I clean the run out with laquer thinner. Once completely dry I wash with paint to highlight the scaling and airbrush with laquers to the best of my abilities. As a side note I am growing tired of laquer fumes. Still the end result has some shriveled spots, toes that are not plump on the underside and webs that aren’t what I’m after. Any help, including a recommendation to a video that I may not be aware of would be greatly appreciated, thanks for your time! 361934F4-B693-4EBA-8333-9C4D04C06C5F.jpeg DAC44745-71AC-482F-9E2D-FE4280A5B5FE.jpeg 278874E7-D217-43C7-9C7B-1BD8DD4E0B1E.jpeg 9C07F9DB-2C1E-4EF8-BBC7-16DD1BE514B9.jpeg C388B7A0-E075-4782-BDEA-CBF1660C8990.jpeg
  2. I would quit injecting with water unless you necessarily have to due to dehydration. in my opinion, that fills the foot and takes away from the materblends. when the water in the foot dried your left with your result. i used to inject for dehydrated feet but now, i just cut them off and soak in dawn and water until they are hydrated again.
    Shawn73 likes this.

  3. wilcox1088

    wilcox1088 Active Member

    B9930125-094A-4ED3-AD2B-AE447133274A.jpeg CBF50852-B802-4C67-B9F2-5E5B4D816F5C.jpeg I remove all of the waterfowl feet I do, I tend to make a mess if I don’t. If they aren’t freezer burned, i inject them with air first to open everything up. Then I inject with master blend
    GotHonks, agua3777, AFTHUNT and 3 others like this.
  4. boone90

    boone90 Dan Hastings

    Great tips, it really sounds like I am occupying valuable masters blend space with water. I really like the injecting air first idea. Thanks for the replies. Does anybody have any tips on keeping the webbing looking fleshy and supple? Mine always look dry, stiff and typically have some wrinkles. I have used cardboard and paperclips but the toes end up flat on the bottom. I have also tried a smear of critter clay on the webs with ok results but still not what I’m after. Thanks again!
  5. You might consider casting your own waterfowl feet. I recently stopped doing the injecting routine and no longer use the real feet on any of my waterfowl mounts. Personally I think the small added costs in terms of time and materials are well worth it. If you show a customer a pair of cast feet along side a set of real ones that have been injected and preserved for a year or more they will almost always opt to pay a little more for the artificial ones, especially with the bigger birds. I use silicone molds and generally cast the smaller feet in urethane or epoxy while the larger ones (geese and swans) are cast in polyester. There are lots of "How to" videos and articles on molding and casting and it is just a matter of determining what works best for your shop and budget.
    Cameraman and magicmick like this.
  6. boone90

    boone90 Dan Hastings

    Wow, that’s one heck of a foot. I hadn’t considered casting. Do you keep a general assortment of molds on hand and are they able to be manipulated with the application of heat? I can see them working really well for a flying mount but maybe difficult to contour to a piece of wood in a convincing fashion if need be? I’m assuming you drill a hole in that foot and epoxy a wire into it for attachment? How much time does the process take you, given your experience with it? Beautiful result for sure.
  7. Thanks for the compliment, yes, I do have a series of molds that represent a range of poses for most species I work with. The duck feet casts of either urethane or epoxy will easily bend under heat and retain the new shape when quick cooled. For more extreme gripping poses (e.g., wood ducks), it's sometimes necessary to cut a notch underneath each knuckle to allow for more bending at the right locations. I usually mount standing geese and swans on bases that simulate sand bars or mud flats and the cast feet really don't need to be altered. The large feet are made of polyester and while that material is the most economical, it does not respond well to heating and bending.
    Also, as you mention I do drill a hole in the top and bottom of the foot in order to secure the wires (or threaded rod) with epoxy.
    Here are the approximate hands-on work times needed for the various steps. They do not include the times required for the various materials to cure so you're really looking at several days before you produce the first finished pair: 1. initial molding from fresh feet, about 45 min. to one hour per pair of feet, 2. making the master casts, half an hour, 3. making a production mold, about 3 hour per pair, 4. casting, painting, and wiring pair of feet, about half an hour to 45 min. You can pre-color the resin used in order to minimize painting later. Production molds will yield 40 to 60 castings before they start to show signs of wear and need to be replaced.
    Wildthings and Chippers like this.
  8. boone90

    boone90 Dan Hastings

    Thanks for the info, in the short term that’s a bit more involved than I have time for right now while I still work full time but I will certainly keep that in mind for future considerations. Thank you for taking the time to explain it to me I really appreciate your time. I think I will be headed in a better direction from everybody’s help.
  9. Wildthings

    Wildthings Well-Known Member

    BSS I would love to see a picture of your molds. I just attempted a widgeons foot and it came out less than desirable