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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Remounting A European Wolf

Recently I received into my shop a European Wolf that had been mounted as a rug mount.  We rarely take in Wolves from Russia.  This is only the fifth European Wolf that has came to my shop in the past 37 years.  This wolf here is a little different.  It was already mounted in the Ukraine.  The tanning was done very well, but the taxidermist struggled in the mounting process.  From what I could see, they are most likely limited to the taxidermy supplies available in Ukraine.  I found it very interesting to see the way this wolf mannikin was constructed.  They had used the original skull as the base and began modeling foam around it.   If this taxidermist had good quality supplies available, I believe he could have put together an outstanding mount.  This was not the case, and the client decided that we needed to take it apart and start over.  I will walk though the steps taken to remount this European Wolf.  

 Looking from the bottom, you can see the jaw embedded in the foam.  I began by using a wet sponge to lightly dampen the skin around the head area.  I was not sure if the tanned skin would hold up to being wet and pulled on.  To my surprise the skin was in good shape and the glue began to release as I removed the skin from the mannikin. 
I started on the lower jaw first.  I gently separated the skin from the jaw bone.  The skin had been glue to the foam which was molded to the jaw bone. 
 With the skin on the bottom jaw freed, I began focusing on the nose area.  I wanted to reduce any damage to the nose that could come from separating the parts.  The florescent pink material that is seen was a rubber compound used to fill in the mouth area and give it its color.  This material came off very easy.  
This is where it got very interesting.  In this photo, I have pulled the skin back past the ear canal but just short of the eyes.  The lighter color material that is there is silicone.  He used this to fill in any voids in the foam.  Silicone was also used to embed the ear butts into.
 Here is a better photo of the silicone used.  It made the transition from the foam to the skull smooth and complete.  The eyes were molded back in place using clay.  They were set in the eye socket just like the real eye.
The two pieces of tin were cut out to form earliners.  They had came from some empty can that was in the shop at the time.  The writing on the back was in Russian and it looked as if the can may have contained some kind of solvent.  There were two holes in each earliner.  These holes had a loop of wire that secured the skin to the earliner.  No glue was used, the skin just took the shape of the pieces of tin.
Here I have removed the skin and fleshed all the glue, foam and silicone that had been adhered.  Using some earliner material, I traced out the shape and began fitting the liner back in the ear.
I had to alter the form for size.  Once that was done, I dug out a void for the ear butts to fit down into.  This is how I keep the ears from appearing to tall and long.  Most Loins, Leopards, and Bobcats are finished with ears that are protruding to far out from the head.  This is the first mistake on most cat mounts.  Some people will remark on how the eyeset gives the cat a poor look.  This is true, but I have found that the ear butt placement is were it goes wrong.  
I always card my ears to give them a smooth, sleek appearance.  Here the Wolf is pinned and set aside to let dry.  
I have jumped ahead here. I have finished the mouth detail and border around the Wolf once I finished stretching the skin.
Here is a close up of the mouth showing some paint detail.
There is a great change from when I first began.  Always remember, having a fresh skin to start with makes the job much easier.  When a Taxidermist begins taken a mounted animal apart, he is playing with fire.  To start off with, there is always less profit when remounting any trophy.  I am not being paid for the tear down time, nor all the extra time needed to fix problems and rehab the skin.  There is a good chance of losing the skin and having nothing.  Most Taxidermist do these jobs for the challenge.   
Here is the finished rug. 

Watch for more tutorials and videos coming soon here at Dick's Taxidermy.