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Coloring Horn Sheaths

Discussion in 'Skulls and Skeletons' started by Tnrandy, Mar 22, 2021.

  1. Tnrandy

    Tnrandy Active Member

    Doing my first cow skull and I left the horns on a little too long and the area nearest the skull has turned white. What's the best thing to use to color the sheaths?
  2. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Pictures? Were they sitting in peroxide to make them white?

  3. Tnrandy

    Tnrandy Active Member

    I'll try to get some later...no i had the head sitting in a plastic container macerating and should have tried to pull them off after a day or two, but left them on too long and the water took out some of the color. I've been told black shoe polish will work but have tried that yet.
  4. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    Ok. I bag the heads in a hot room for a few days and then bash them off with a rubber mallet. Then the skull only goes into maceration. If the horns are black, seems like that might work but you would also want to make sure that it just doesn't keep- rubbing off when touched. Some brands might be better than others.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2021
  5. Tnrandy

    Tnrandy Active Member

    I’m also having a hard time keeping the skull together. It’s splitting right down the head to the nose. I’ve hydrated it a couple times and use zip ties and it just stretched them out. I hydrated again and used some loctite and really tightened the ties and put a ratchet strap on it too. Not sure what else to do if this doesn’t work.

    Also here are the sheaths I need to darken. B9464FCA-FBFE-493C-A9B4-E0777EBE98F4.jpeg 347AA483-F829-478E-83FB-E37862BF484C.jpeg A7DF0E66-77B9-447E-90E3-B333113B9C8B.jpeg 08AA519C-AC3E-4320-93F0-2A889C6776AF.jpeg
  6. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    I have not had horns bleach out like that. Before you use shoe polish, see if someone else chimes in. You can sand them down in the meantime to smooth them and get rid of the peeling surface. As for the skull, it's odd that it is splitting like that. Normally that would happen to boiled ones. For splitting, use the ratchet straps and furniture clamps. While the splits are open, use Elmer's White Glue. Clamp the skull as tight as you can and make sure you leave it clamped until completely dry. This might take a week or more. Elmer's is extremely strong when dry.
  7. Tnrandy

    Tnrandy Active Member

    ok...thanks for feedback. I will see what happens this time when it dries, hopefully the loctite will hold it together. This skull was macerated in 90 degree water and degreased in 115 degree for a week. Maybe I should have skipped the degreasing as it didn't appear to have much grease to begin with.
    I'll sand the sheaths, that's a good idea. I'm open to other suggestions to darken if anyone else wants to chime in...if not I"m going to try the shoe polish.
  8. QBD

    QBD Active Member

    Hobby shops have a wide range of colors of water based acrylic paints. They can be blended and thinned with water to get the desired shade. Then a light coat of olive oil or a mixture of turpentine and boiled linseed oil will restore luster.

    I have used this combo on ram sheaths with great results.


  9. the splitting of the skull is usually due to age. by the size of the horns this looks like a very young animal and the bones have not fused together very well yet due to its young age. this will cause the sutures to let loose and the skull to separate as you stated. this is very common with younger animals. as they age the suture will become more calcified and holds the skull in place. in doing older mature bulls and bison i do not get any separation.
  10. Tnrandy

    Tnrandy Active Member

    Looks great!
  11. Tnrandy

    Tnrandy Active Member

    That makes sense. ONce they seperate it's not as easy to just pull back together and glue, these things are tough. I have to hydrate to get the split to go back together. I'm going to give it a few more days to dry and see if I've fixed it...if not I'll have to start over.
    Thanks for feedback.
  12. crablover

    crablover Well-Known Member

    For a permanent penetrating colorant you can custom mix Min Wax pure stain. Make sure the stain does not have finisher mixed in. You can thin down the stain with mineral spirits to control the transparency, mixing and blending with different colors until you have blended and matched
    Tnrandy likes this.