Sunday, July 1, 2018

Mounting a Life Size Stone Sheep

Here's another completed project. Below, Garry narrates the process for mounting this Stone Sheep from British Columbia. You can see by the many other projects in the shop photos, that he's been very busy! 

Finished Stone Sheep Mount
This Stone Sheep was harvested in British Columbia by a client who is creating a display of life size mounts of his "Grand Slam" of sheep of North America. The "Grand Slam" is a collection of four North American sheep, and includes the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, The Desert Bighorn Sheep, The Stone Sheep from British Columbia and the Dall Sheep from Alaska, Yukon and Northwest Territories. 

This sheep was shot in the neck with the bullet exiting the left side of the face. There was major damage to the skin, which needed to be repaired. The client called me from British Columbia explaining the damage and was worried about having it repaired. I told him that if all the pieces were there, I would probably be able to fit it all together. 

The skin was tanned at  Carolina Fur Dressing and Rick Morgan's crew did a great job of working around the damaged areas. It was like a jigsaw puzzle putting this all together. It took about four hours to arrange the skin in its proper position, trying it on the mannikin and checking hair patterns. I was pleased with the repairs and I have mounted sheep with more damage and scars from fighting. The mannikin and artificial rock were purchased from  McKenzie Taxidermy Supply Company. 

Mannikin attached to artificial rock. 

Damage from bullet exit wound below left eye.

Sewing the damaged face and checking hair patterns. 

Sewing the tanned skin

Repairs completed.

Mannikin didn't need much alteration.

Relief cuts were made in the groin area of the mannikin.
A dorsal cut was used so the skin will be applied to the mannikin on its back. 

Gluing the legs

Skin is positioned and I started to sew the seams. 

Leg seams are sewn and threaded rods will anchor the mount to the rock.
Testicles are carved from styrofoam. 

Glue applied to the mannikin. 

Skin pulled into proper position.

Face skin lowered while eyes are set into position. 

Horns are affixed with Bondo to the skull and the skullcap is affixed to the mannikin with screws and Bondo. 

Eyes are set in clay and nose detail is sculpted in clay. 

Skin is positioned on mannikin and the full length dorsal incision is sewn. 

Pins are put in place in depressions to hold the skin while drying.
Face detail is also pinned.  

After drying, detail work is finished around the face and feet. 

Finished mount showing where damage on the face was repaired. 

The mount, including the artificial rock, was created to be
hung on a wall when complete. 
Dall Sheep from Northwest Territories, for the same client.

Rock Base created by Dale Manning of Habitat Rock, Missoula, Montana

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Mounting a Life Size Leopard

Leopard taxidermy

Here's what Garry has to say about this project. 

This leopard was collected in Namibia by a client. It was a very large cat, it was not weighed but it was one of the largest cats I've ever worked on. It was bigger than a 165 lb leopard I did a few years ago. I had to alter the largest leopard form I could get, to make it bigger and to fit the artificial tree branch it would be perched on. 

The leopard form was purchased from Research Mannikins Taxidermy Supply in Oregon. This form was sculpted by Bill Lancaster, who does great cats. 

Form before alterations

Fitting the form to the artificial branch. 
The branch was purchased from McKenzieTaxidermy Supply

Form before hip alteration.

I had to cut the form in half to alter the angle of the hips. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Louisiana & Mississippi: Seafood, Music, & Katrina

Fried Green Tomatoes with Creamy Shrimp Sauce 
The reasons we love the South: warm weather in winter, lots of seafood dishes to taste, and music venues to visit. We cooked a lot while in Alabama for a month, but as we passed through New Orleans on our way back home, we stayed in a hotel and had to (?) eat at restaurants. It was hard to rein ourselves in on the budget and diet, but we managed to enjoy some great food, as well as music. 

Hotel Richelieu, at the edge of the French Quarter

Great View

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Mounting a Lion-Pedestal Shoulder Mount

Finished Mount

Originally the client wanted this lion to be a life-sized mount. It was collected in Tanzania. After over a year of waiting to have the skin shipped from Tanzania, when it arrived from the tannery, there was a lot of damage to the skin. It's not possible to say where the damage took place. Therefore, we decided to do a pedestal shoulder mount.  

The photos below show the process of creating the mount. 

Artificial jaws are fitted to the manikin.

Jaws reattached and ready to mount.

Carnival Museum & BBQ in Mobile, AL

Mobile, AL was about an hour's drive from our cabin, but we decided to go over on the ferry to Dauphin Island and drive back. 

On the ferry.

Oil Rig, Mobile Bay

Fishing, Seafood, Dolphins in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, AL

Visitor Center

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are 2 neighboring ocean-front towns. There are many beach houses and high rise condos, and it is the heart of the tourist zone. We saw a lot of license plates from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois. 

High Rise Meets Low Rise

We bought some small shark teeth key rings for the grandchildren here, and Garry bought a large tooth for his own collection.

Fishing at Alabama Point State Park, Orange Beach AL.
Garry said he didn't notice the girls in bikinis. I think he did.
My heron friend, looking for fish. 

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach each had their own Mardi Gras parades, a few hours apart. More beads and Moon Pies! 

Here's the link to my post about our visit to the Mobile Carnival Museum, where we learned a lot about the Mardi Gras traditions, culture and history. There are a lot of photos of the elaborate costumes worn by participants at the Mardi Gras balls. 

Flippers Seafood Restaurant, in Orange Beach at Bear Point Marina, was recommended to us. Our meals there were very good, and homemade ice cream is included! I regret that I never got around to trying a popular Alabama drink, a Bushwacker, made with rum and ice cream. 

The dolphin tour which has offices next to Flippers had off season specials, and we got a fun and educational 2 hour trip. The dolphins like to ride the wake between 2 boats because it helps them to shed their skin. 

Gulf Shores advertised a Seafood Festival and Car Show at The Wharf, which is a shopping center and condo complex.  It wasn't a festival by Milwaukee standards; no beer tents and very little food. But it drew a large crowd and seeing the classic cars was fun.  

What we thought would be a short hike into the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge turned out to be a long hike in on sand in the hot sun. When we got to Gator Lake, we didn't see any gators. 

I guess some people need to be told not to SWIM with alligators.

During the month we were in Alabama, we made several visits over to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, so we tried a few restaurants. One popular spot is Fish River Grill. Meals include Swamp Soup, which tastes better than it looks, sort of a greens & beans kind of soup. I tried a crawfish pistol, which is crawfish in a sauce stuffed into a roll. Yummy. 

We also tried Niki's Seafood & Thai restaurant. It seemed strange to have Thai food in a beachy-vibe place, with all blue and green decor. The basil spring rolls were good and the tea was served in a big jar. 

A neighbor in Perdido Beach suggested we go to Doc's Seafood Shack. I tried the fried stuffed crab, which I never had before and it was good. 

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach had some good places to fish, swim, eat and shop, but we were happy with our choice of our little cabin in the woods in Perdido Beach. It was a much more peaceful and quiet residential area. I took walks every morning on the roads around the neighborhood. 
Sunset from our deck at the cabin.