Stuffing of animal and bird skins have been practiced for many years. These find use in natural history museums. In many old homes, these can be seen as trophies of hunting brought back by their ancestors. This is a good way of preserving the animals, which may become extinct one day, in the way they really existed. This art of stuffing real animal skins to exactly make it look like the animal is called taxidermy.
Taxidermy does not just refer to the process of preserving the animals, it also has come to represent the end product which is the replica of the animal. The original skin of the animal is used in taxidermy to stuff. The stuffing inside is done using wires, wood, and wool. Alternatively, ready-made mannequins are available on which the skins are stretched and stitched.
Remember if you are working on a taxidermy always get a pair of the best rated safety glasses around. The last thing you want to do is hurt your eyes working on your taxidermy!
History Of Taxidermy
Taxidermy has been in existence for quite a long time. The first recorded taxidermy was in 1748 when birds were stuffed for natural history cabinets. Methods of taxidermy and mounting were described in 1752. In those days stuffing was done using clay, which made the models very heavy.
During the Victorian era, this art form flourished. It became a fashion to have animal mounts as part of the interior decoration. John Hancock is considered to be a pioneer of taxidermy as it exists today. He used to shoot birds. He would then model them in plaster. He made an exhibition of his mounts which earned much praised. Many youngsters started getting interested in the art at this time.
From the ages of early taxidermy, the art developed into making more realistic looking mounts. People studied the animals with photographs and used realistic poses that are peculiar to that animal. The skin and muscles are studied in detail and exact replicas are made. This makes the mounts more realistic.
The animal is first skinned, and the skin is tanned as is usually done with most hides for use as leather. The skin is mounted on a mannequin usually made nowadays using polyurethane foam. This gives a better shape to the final product.
Taxidermists are also using another method. They freeze the animal along with the bones and muscles. Only the interiors are removed. These carcasses are frozen and dried using special machines for these purposes. These are then taken out used as mounts. This method is more preferred in the preservation of pets. As the machines are expensive this method is also very expensive.