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Bird Tans

Discussion in 'Bird Taxidermy' started by pir^2h, Jan 13, 2019.

  1. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    The only thing I have ever used with birds it dry preservative (started to put down calorax, still call it that all these years later!). Are bird tans worth it?
  2. socalmountainman

    socalmountainman Northwestern School of Taxidermy - Class of '73

    I use Knobloch Liqua-cure on all my birds and haven't had to hassle with the dry powder drying up the neck skins. Its also a degreaser but I still rewash my waterfowl in Dawn. I originally bought the Liqua-cure for my fish but the instructions said also did birds - been using it ever since!
    Terry Bennett likes this.

  3. I
    I don't think so,Borax powder is SO cheap.
  4. socalmountainman

    socalmountainman Northwestern School of Taxidermy - Class of '73

    Well, here in America, it's $63 gallon. At 10 parts H2O ti 1 part Liqua-cure I can do 20 ducks with one gallon. It's re-usable so it can go further. But, just to justify the price, 20 birds works out to $3.15 per bird. Since this amount is calculated into material costs when I price my ducks at $395 using the formula:

    overhead + material cost + labor rate X profit margin = price

    then, one can conclude two things,
    #1 - the customer paid for it
    #2 - it's worth it

    For me, anyways....... oh, and did I mention it is re-usable?
  5. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I am posting this as my experience and not meant to be contrary to socalmountainman's post. His is a good post.
    I used Liqua cure once. I wanted to do an experiment.

    I killed two quail the same day. I mounted both at the same time and took care of them from field to finished mount at the same time the same way. The difference was that I boraxed one and Liqua cured the other.
    The only negative that I found with the Liqua cure was that I timed both mounts and the Liqua cure took longer because the time it was soaking was longer than applying the borax to the other.

    In the end I couldn't tell any difference in the finished mount's appearance.

    As a side note, and I'm not blaming the Liqua cure for this, as it's just something that happened during the mounting process, all the scaled skin of one leg from the Liqua cured one slipped totally off the leg as I was running the wire through. I had to change the mount pose to hide this as I didn't know how to fix it. It slipped from feathers to toe nails.

    I plan on using Liqua cure again on a turkey, a grouse and a quail and see how that goes before I can have a truly informed opinion through more experience.
    socalmountainman likes this.
  6. I just wait until its on special,but this is just a hobby for me.
    socalmountainman likes this.
  7. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    I should have been clearer on what I was asking. When I said "Is it worth it" I meant is it worth the time and trouble to tan a bird skin vs. dry preserve, not in dollars and cents! Is it is going to better in the long run and create a better mount? Price is no big deal. Taxidermy is my hobby and all mounts are for me anyways so I don't skimp on materials, forms and cost. It's either first class or forget it. What the heck, I'll get a quart size bottle and try it on my next mount.
    socalmountainman likes this.
  8. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    As I said in my earlier post, From the one experience I had, it took longer and the end result left no difference in the appearance of the birds. So, with just this one experience I would say not worth it. After I do some more work with it my opinion could very well change.
  9. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    Please let us know what you think, when you do.
    bucksnort10 likes this.
  10. ClayH

    ClayH New Member

    It's worth it. I have seen my quality improve greatly. The problem I commonly get with boraxed birds, is that the head and neck skin would wrinkle. You could feel the ridges that would form as the skin dried. This would make the mount look like I gripped it by the neck and carried it around for a while, so I will end up smashing the feathers down to iron out those ridges. Super frustrating to mount a bird, groom it till perfection, then watch it transform in a few days. I live in a very dry climate, which probably contributes to my problem. Tanning has nearly eliminated that problem. Feathers will move or shift some, but not much.

    Also, boraxed skin has a tendency to drum, and is crisper than a potato chip. You can hear the crunchiness when you pinch the wing web of a dry bird. The tanned birds I have done are not crispy, which makes me feel that they are not as brittle or prone to damage.

    I also feel they groom better/faster. I have done competition birds with borax that were smooth as glass, but it took a great amount of time to groom them. Tanned birds were a bit easier to groom.

    The skin stays moist while your working on it. Borax dries the skin out way too fast. Especially around the head. You need supple skin to get the proper eye detail, and stretch as you glue around the bill. Which brings up another point. If I don't caulk around the head of a borax bird, the eyelid will sometimes shift. Exposing the resin head and partially covering the eye.

    Not all boraxed birds in my shop are disasters, but I get consistently better reults with a tanned skin. Tanning doesn't take away your responsibility of doing a good job of fleshing, washing, and properly fitting the skin.

    In the attached images. The swan is tanned. The mallard is boraxed, and showing what I get frustrated about.

    Attached Files:

  11. That has nothing at all to do with the borax. Thats 100% your fault. DP / Borax is going to make a wrinkle form magically. That ridge you feel and can see after it dried was there from the beginning.
    While the skin is still soft its almost invisible, when it dries hard , it stands out like a sore thumb.
    The same thing can happen with deer, bobcats, any , mounts.
    Its your job to check for that error you made!
    In your own words you made that error quite often. And didnt catch it!

    Im sorry ,but dont blame DP for something its 100% innocent of.
  12. ClayH

    ClayH New Member

    Proof is in the pudding Glen.

    I have done 20 tanned birds since November, and not a single problem. So if I'm ametuer enough to leave wrinkles in the skin, then at least 1 of those 20 should give me some negative results.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
    bucksnort10 and Setsuna like this.
  13. bucksnort10

    bucksnort10 Well-Known Member

    pir^2h Try Ultra soft relaxer from Matuska . . .

    And let me know what you think about it.
  14. Thousands upon thousands are mounted yearly with Dp . Dp is the most common preservation used on birds. From novice to celebrity name taxidermist. If Dp caused the problem you’re r trying to blame it on. It would have been obsolete many years ago.
    Your absolutely right the proof is in the pudding. Dp works for millions of taxidermist, has won countless blue ribbons.
    Don’t mistake that im trying to say Dp is better than the tan you’re using on them , or any other preservation method. I’m saying the DP did not , will not cause A wrinkle in the neck,!!!!!!
    That only leaves one other conclusion, a flaw in the anatomy construction. But , If you say you didnt , then bygolly you didn't !!!!
    We do about 100 - 130 ducks a year, you can bet your ass mistakes will get made on one or two, most aren’t flawless neither. but not one single mistake or flaw is from the use of Dp on them. A mistake is an OVERSIGHT on my part or hers, not dp. ( I got a duck lady in the shop)
    Flaws can be from a retriever, prior mishandling, shot up, and none of that is dp fought either.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2019
    Wildthings likes this.
  15. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    OK. Next time I order from them I will get some and see what it does (it may be a while since I am only a hobbyist and don't have time to do too much). I did get a bird tan (Rittel) last time I ordered from Matuska and have tanned three birds with it but not mounted any of them yet.
    bucksnort10 likes this.
  16. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    OK, I ordered the bird tan (Rittel) and tried it on three birds so far. It is hard to tell at this point if it did make any difference.

    According to the listing, "Actually tans and lends strength so your stitches will not tear as easily." Sorry, I don't believe this statement to be true. I did not notice any difference between dry preserve skins and those tanned regarding the ability to hold stiches better.

    Further states, "Eliminates the skin turning brittle from age." That remains to be seen at this point since I have only used it on these three birds within the last couple weeks.

    I am still using the dry preservative on it before mounting (mainly for moth proofing). What I did notice is that the skin did not seem to dry out as much during the mounting process from before I used the tan. Will I continue to use it in the future? Yes. Anything to help make a mount last longer.

    If I remember (and still alive and kicking) in about six months I will update this post and compare it to a dry preserve mount only.
    bucksnort10 likes this.
  17. Yes update as soon as possible! If it works, will buy my wife a box of it. ;)Ill tell here its a new makeup.:rolleyes: :D
    Peter H., pir^2h and Rausch like this.
  18. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    It is getting up there towards six months so I am reporting what I found. In my previous post and according to the claims made in the supply catalog:

    "Eliminates the skin turning brittle from age."

    So far this has proven to be true. I can feel that the neck skin is more pliable than a dry preserve. But to take it a step further I removed the stitches from the neck incision to do a check. Yes, the skin is still pliable, just a little stiff (very little) but with a little tug it loosened up even more. I am pretty sure if I did that with a dry preserved skin it would have cracked up and been unusable at that point. I closed the incision after this and hung it back up on the wall.

    I think from here on out I will be tanning my bird skins. It is an extra step but since the birds are all for me it isn't like time is money!

    bucksnort10: I have not placed any orders from Matuska since this thread was started so I have no ultra relaxer and no opinion as of yet on this product.

  19. bucksnort10

    bucksnort10 Well-Known Member

    No problem.
    Just curious if any one else had tried it. When I took a lesson from another taxi, he was using it on all of his birds.
  20. I use it on my birds and it does infact leave the skin more pliable. It is an extra step but I feel you get a better mount in the end. Not so many bumps in the skin from drying out very brittle. JMO