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Teaching The New Taxidermy Student.

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by socalmountainman, Dec 23, 2020.

  1. socalmountainman

    socalmountainman Northwestern School of Taxidermy - Class of '73

    I recall the frustration of finding solutions to polynomial expressions back in junior high. A simple expression as (2x + 3)³ would require a full page of multiplication to form a solution. So, some three weeks of getting fast at this, the teacher decides to tell us about Pascal's triangle. I could solve (2x + 3)³ in seconds! Why, then, would the teacher cause so much grief? Why did she not tell us 3 weeks earlier. Simple! She wanted to teach us the basic fundamental's... the concept, so to speak.
    I believe that today's taxidermy beginners are being taught the art without the 'basic fundamentals" and therefore, struggle with the whole concept. With YouTube and DVD's on every branch of the art readily available, you can put together that bird or deer head in record time. Then, the new student comes to the forum to pose questions on how or why they can overcome a problem they have encountered in the process. Don't get me wrong, I love sharing my knowledge and will be the first to respond when and where I can to help someone out.
    My suggestion is usually to go to the library and find the book Taxidermy by Leon L. Pray or The Home Book of Taxidermy and Tanning by Gerald J. Grantz. You can actually buy both books on E-Bay for about $10. So why would I lead a person to such a primitive, medieval way of approaching taxidermy? Because, If they first learn to build from scratch, a hand-wrapped artificial body, they will learn so much more about the anatomy of the specimen they are mounting. Having to measure and wrap, remeasure and wire, the legs and neck and wings and... well, you get the picture. For us old-timers, it was the only way!
    My solution to this problem is probably outdated or perhaps ancient to some of these up-and-coming artists but, I swear that if you first take the time to learn the basic fundamentals, they will become better and more experienced at overcoming problems they may encounter. God knows, many of us old timers didn't get the kind of help "the friendly taxidermist" down the street or from DVD's and YouTube when we first started. But we became more patient and better artists. So, when I suggest to someone that they should go to the library and check out a book to learn taxidermy, I'm not kidding, you will be a much better taxidermist in the future.
    Joe Martin
    Marti's Taxidermy
  2. drob

    drob Well-Known Member

    I agree with you.The problem these days is that everyone is in a hurry and looking for instant gratification.When you didn't know how to do something on your car back in the day you had to walk or catch the bus until you got help,now just look it up on line .Saves a lot of time and money in the long run and people are a little spoiled today!

  3. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    I have a feeling you posted this on my answer to another thread . I really do get where your coming from that said , you talk of math , math is not even taught that way anymore. Good or bad we have to progress or fall behind kinda thing . You don’t have to do a wrapped body to learn the muscular structure of said body , when you have forms to show it . no difference then using a computer or I pad to document things instead of writing it down . It’s up to the students on how far back they want to take it . Older books won’t show you how to alter a form of today’s techniques . Nothing in our trade has stayed the same unless you the taxidermist wants to do it old school . Most not all as there are some very gifted people out there, but most that do it old school still , well there mounts look old school, a new mount looks 25 years old . We have to move forward with the times , and materials others in our trade have discovered and defined to help us get better and faster at this great old trade . Again J . M. O.
    J.N.L and Wally Gator like this.
  4. Kerby Ross

    Kerby Ross KSU - Class of '83; U.S. Army - Infantry (83-92)

    I have been dabbling in taxidermy since 1975 and I totally disagree. Technology is constantly changing .... and so is taxidermy. You do not need to know how to do taxidermy the way is was done in the 1950's and 1960's, or 1970's. Why?

    When I bought my first Tandy computer in 1987 I had to use MS DOS to boot it up, now it is done for you. When I first started designing websites I had to learn HTML, now it is done for you.

    Taxidermy has advanced .... so why live in the dark ages?


    Lance.G, Tony Corleone and magicmick like this.
  5. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    Respectfully 13 point, you are incorrect on that statement about math for the most part. I am a math teacher and when I teach it they have to do the fundemental long way before I show them the shortcuts. This is a taxidermy thread so I won't go into long details about math since most are not on here to talk of this subject! I am not the only math teacher who does this. At my school all the math teach the fundementals first as well as the other school I taught at before changing districts!
  6. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    It’s all good , that said I know my grandsons home work isn’t the 2+2 = 4 kinda thing that I and my kids learned when we where in school, so not arguing but it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before so in mine and everyone that I know with grand kids eyes math has changed
    socalmountainman and Wally Gator like this.
  7. Or the lessons of the Northwestern School of Taxidermy and the book Taxidermy Step by Step by the late Waddy Mcfall they got me started after reading and practicing they seem to come easy after rereading the manuscript
    tviper56 and socalmountainman like this.
  8. Terry Bennett

    Terry Bennett Well-Known Member

    WTF are you guys talking about. If I new how to do math I wouldn't be a taxidermist.

    However I do agree that there aren't many shortcuts to learn how to do taxidermy correctly. I agree with Kerby that modern techniques have shortened the curve, but learning anatomy and studying reference are still the key to good taxidermy. Thank god for urethane foam and plastic and all the great products that the suppliers provide, but at some point you will have to alter or sculpt your own piece. All the things that socal mentioned lead up to that point.
    J.N.L, George, tviper56 and 2 others like this.
  9. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    Terry, to be a well rounded taxidermist you are correct but, if you don't ever take on a project that a form isn't available for, you will be fine. There are plenty of those out there that are that way, and that's fine. I appreciate that, it allows me to charge what I want for the little bit of extra work it takes to carve a form for odd critters.
  10. socalmountainman

    socalmountainman Northwestern School of Taxidermy - Class of '73

    Did I mention I thought “what the hell is the Quadratic Formula used for” and then used it almost daily in college in Organic Chemistry!!!
    pir^2h likes this.
  11. socalmountainman

    socalmountainman Northwestern School of Taxidermy - Class of '73

    I started taxidermy in 1969 when I was 10. I am a Northwestern School of Taxidermy graduate! Class of 1973!
    Diploma resize.jpg
    pir^2h, tviper56 and Johnnyclyde like this.
  12. Pikeonthefly

    Pikeonthefly Active Member

    I agree with the OP. To appreciate taxidermy is to get to know it from the inside out. I have been in construction my entire life. Started by using a pick to dig through decomposed granite for foundation footings. Today I can build a home from the ground up by myself. However I now occupy an office seat. ( Always thought it would be great but I'd rather be pounding nails). For the most part today's construction pool is specialized. Back in the day you hired someone who could install flooring materials. Today you have a carpet guy/luxury vinyl planking guy/tile guy/hardwood flooring guy and vinyl guy. No one guy can do it all. Plumber to run the pipes. Separate guy to hardware. Electrician to run the wires but a separate guy to plug and switch and it goes on and on and none of them care to expand outside of their little world. Heck even the trim carpenters won't set the exterior doors anymore. If you want to be successful you need to do it all. One day the time will come when you will have to be the one strapping on your tools to get the job done.
    George and drob like this.
  13. I was in the class of 78 thru 79
    socalmountainman likes this.
  14. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    I use the quadratic formula in math class for the trajectory of a bullet. It gives it real life application purposes. Anything to give the class an example of helps drive the point across that it is useful in real life, somewhere!
    socalmountainman likes this.
  15. Terry Bennett

    Terry Bennett Well-Known Member

    Reminds me of a story a friend of mine told me. Years ago he worked at a mine in north Idaho. It was a union job. He said if a light bulb burnt out you couldn't replace. That wasn't your job. He had to wait for an electrician to come and replace the light bulb.
  16. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    socalmountainman likes this.
  17. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    I have a young man skinning deer for me who aspire's to be a taxidermist. He is very undependable in coming to work, wants to learn everything in 10 minutes, and is ready to leave when the last stitch is made in a mount...he ain't gonna last long.
    pir^2h, magicmick and Keith like this.
  18. Richs Taxidermy

    Richs Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    Sometimes it feels us older taxidermist were born to soon,I often think about all the world champions willing to give lessons ,all the dvds out there,and all the info at conventions, when I was learning in 1981 I remember John Rinehart and northwest school by mail ,only draw back is it's next to impossible to think of an orginal competition piece anymore.
    socalmountainman and Richard C like this.
  19. Mudbat

    Mudbat Well-Known Member

    I got into doing fish work all self taught. I’m a very hands on learner so I’ve gotta screw things up and fix them in order to learn. I came into this with a background in competition painting and drawing and have also been a dental tech off and on for over 23 years( yes I can see in millimeters) two skill sets that can get you out of nearly any pickle in fish taxidermy.
    Ive been fortunate enough to be able to consider guys like Terry Wieck, Frank Kotula, Dave Campbell, Tim Gorenchen(sp), Jimmy, Gary Bruchs, etc... colleagues.
    One thing I’ve never done and never would do is ask them how to do something or what colors to use.
    I would only ever ask them can something be done or possibly send a pick and ask if I’m on the right track. And they have always been more very friendly and extremely helpful. these guys have spent years and years perfecting their craft and I always felt it would be extremely rude to try and get the easy answer from them. I’m sure they get that from people all the time. Fast forward just a couple years and now I get question from people looking for the easy answer. The answer I give is screw it up! That’s the best way to learn! It’s at the risk of sounding like a jerk, but it’s the best advice to give. It takes time and a desire to get better at your craft, but if you mess it and learn a fix, it can be used used on every other mount you do where you run into the same issue. Just things you can’t show or tell some one, you have to experience it.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2020
  20. Pikeonthefly

    Pikeonthefly Active Member

    Agree with Mudbat 100%. Patrick Mahomes can throw a football. Patrick Mahomes can teach you how to throw a football. But he can't throw it for you. Mudbat. Self taught. Your the Patrick Mahomes of fish taxidermy. Look at his fish. Nuff said!