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Weird Tanning Advice?

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Kaiju, Dec 26, 2020.

  1. Kaiju

    Kaiju New Member

    Hi everyone!

    Beginner here! I was going to take a taxidermy class last year but it was a bit over my price range, and then 2020 happened.

    Anyway, I got an offer from someone with some spare squirrel and rabbit skins in the freezer he said I could practice with. But his taxidermy technique dosnt match with what I've read online. Obviously I don't want to disagree with him as he's got way more experience than me And he's doing me a favor, but I'd like to ask here if it's actually going to work or not before I start. I don't want it to go smelly or all the hair to fall out in a year's time, you know?

    His method is.

    1. Skin, get rid of any fleshy bits. (He's already done this, I assume he knows what he's doing)

    2. Salt. Cover the inside of the skin with salt for a day. Remove salt. Replace with new salt for another day.

    3. Borax inside the skin for 24 hours. Wash in soapy water, mount while damp, blow dry. He says they are only thin so that's all they need?

    He also mentioned he'd used isopropyl alcohol to pickle a snake skin once, so I could use it on the rabbit if I wanted. But I've not seen anything about that for use with mammals. I would assume it would turn out really brittle? I've got access to a large amount for work so if it's a good option I can do it.

    What do you guys reckon, is his homemade technique legit or should I just fork out for a premade tanning kit and wing it?

    Thanks! I hope to be around here for a while, unless this is an utter disaster ahah.
  2. Westcoast

    Westcoast Active Member

    What do you have to lose by learning his technique of doing it? The reality of taxidermy is that you could go to five different schools and learn five different ways and they’d all be right. My point being, learn ALL the ways and then develop YOURS. I’d let him show me what he’s got.
    tem, msestak and pir^2h like this.

  3. Kaiju

    Kaiju New Member

    Thanks Westcoast!

    You raise a good point, theres so many different techniques and ingredients out there. I guess I will trust him and see what happens!

    I'm so excited haha
  4. 13 point

    13 point Well-Known Member

    I’d be worried bout step 3 , borax then wash with soap . Seems you’d be washing the preservative out . JMO
    tem, Keith and George like this.
  5. cyclone

    cyclone Posts: 400001

    You are correct, it is very weird tanning advice. It is not a tan at all but merely a method of preservation..
    tem and Keith like this.
  6. Kaiju

    Kaiju New Member

    Yeah that's what I wondered about. Why wash all the salt n borax out after doing all that? Wouldn't that be going back to stage one?

    I did some more research (mostly here haha) but it seems like everyone has different ways of doing every step.

    I suppose if ingredients can range from eggs/brains to battery acid it won't hurt to just try some different stuff out?

    Looks like I might be winging it afterall.
  7. Vulpes Vulpes

    Vulpes Vulpes Active Member

    My very first taxidermy attempt involved borax and a squirrel skin. I left puffed borax on the inside out skin overnight, the skin turned rock hard. It didn't soften after attempting to rehydrate it. I'd be curious to know how he gets around that issue.
  8. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Forget this "advice". Borax, even to this day, is used as a detergent. Using it alone is fine but NOT when water is involved. As 13 point states, it defeats the process. Borax alone isn't the best choice either. It simply acts as an insecticide. Buy some "dry preservative" that combines unscented talcum powder as a desiccant and alum as an astringent.
    Next this is using isopropyl. Don't. It evaporates almost as quickly as it contacts. What SHOULD be used is denatured alcohol (ethanol). It is poisonous if ingested and not the best thing to use if you dont wear rubber gloves as it can be absorbed through the skin.. Breathing fumes is bad on the lungs and will give you a splitting headache. Wear gloves, keep in a ventilated area, and wear gloves. It is an excellent product for small game when used properly.
  9. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    If you are going to dry preserve a specimen, DP it and mount immediately. Letting a treated skin set around for hours before mounting is never good.
    cyclone likes this.
  10. cyclone

    cyclone Posts: 400001

    Not a detergent but a detergent booster. It raises the pH of water and helps laundry detergents work more efficiently.
    Frank E. Kotula and George like this.