Taxidermy And Modelling
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Many people seem to think that taxidermy is but a higher sounding synonym of " bird-stuffing," but it has a far wider scope and includes the whole art of preparing or con-serving skins throughout the vertebrate sub-kingdom. The word "bird-stuffing" is, or should be, a degrading libel on what is now anart which only the skilled modeller should attempt. It is easy to trace the genesis of the term "bird-stuffing," for no doubt the butchers and botchers had matters their own way formerly, and really "stuffed" or filled out skins by ramming the packing in until the bloated skin could hold no more.
The origin of taxidermy—i.e. the art of skinpreserving—lies in the very distant past. The earliest and most savage nations practised, and still practise, it for purposes of clothing or adornment. What profits the present article much more, however, is the consideration of what degree of antiquity can be assigned to the art of taxidermy as we now know it—the skinning, setting -up and mounting of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fishes as scientific objects or merely as trophies of the chase.
To quote from an article in the Encyclopedia Britannica, " Little is known of the beginning of the practice of the `stuffiing' or `setting-up' of animals for ornament or for scientific purposes, and it is highly probable, from what we gather from old works of travel or natural history, that the art is not more than some three hundred years old. It was practised in England towards the end of the seventeenth century, as is proved by the Sloane collection, which, in 1725, formed the nucleus of the collection of natural history now lodged in the galleries at South Kensington."
It may be that a rhinoceros, originally set up for the museum of Ulysses Aldrovandus, removed from the Medicean, and still preserved in the Royal Museum at Florence, is the oldest specimen known, as it dates from the sixteenth century. Early in that century, about 1517-18, according to a French work of later date, some tropical birds were set up at Amsterdam.
In the University Museum at Pisa there are still preserved some fine groups of mammals, the work of Professor Paolo Savi in the beginning of the present century, which are as well executed as may be, and which have been commented on by English and other writers upon the subject. These are probably the first groups of animals portrayed in action which will bear criticism. After these came the work of Ploucquet, of Stuttgart, who contributed to the Great Exhibition of 1851 some finely-modelled groups of animals in action, which are still preserved in the Crystal Palace, but covered with dust through lack of proper glass protection. At the same time Ploucquet exhibited comic groups of animals engaged in impossible feats, which, it is sad to know, have been copied by others destitute of his humour and of his capacity for putting the proper half human expression into their features. The province of taxidermy, however, is not to make hedgehogs play at cards in toy houses with toy furniture, nor rats engage in (toy) ball-room festivities, nor to find material for the antics of a "Comic Naturalist." Such things may lend themselves to comic drawing, but they are distinctly out of place in taxidermic art.
Contemporary with Ploucquet were Jules Verreaux, John Wallace, and Edwin Ward, whose " Arab Courier attacked by Lions," " A Horseman attacked by Tigers," and " Lion and Tiger Struggle," were--the first especially—fine pieces of work, which vied with Ploucquet's in execution. Later came Rowland Ward's " Jungle " at the Colonial Exhibition, a large and ambitious work ; and then museums awakened slowly to the need for more artistic and pictorial representations of natural objects. The small town of Ludlow had its birds mounted in its museum in a pictorial manner, and may have been, probably was, the first public museum to throw off the shackles which bound all museums to the principle that vertebrate specimens should be arranged on stands, or cross-sticks, all pointing one way, and all in one attitude ; these essentials conducing, it was supposed, to British science, which should be, as every one knows, solid and severe. This was all very well, for no one supposes science can be anything but exact; but what was unnecessary to carry out the idea was the criminally inartistic and unnatural setting-up of the specimens, and the bounteous dust and dirt which rested upon and environed them, as if the custodians, with some dim and half-crazed idea of their functions as high priests of these sepulchres of the unnatural, had decreed that in the eternal fitness of things the dead should be carefully disregarded, and the funereal ashes sprinkled thickly around. In these days,—when, as is shown, the Italians first, next the French, and then the Germans have tried to teach the stupid and inartistic British taxidermist (with his American cousin) the way to be wise ;—when one takes into consideration the example of foreign museums and the tardy yet thorough awakening of our own State museum to the principles which should underlie the presentation to the public eye of all natural objects, it will hardly be believed that any museums exist in which ill-made skins are fatuously wired bolt upright, and offered up in long rows of dreary monotony to a long-suffering people.
It might be of some avail to remind the inartistic or dirt-loving votaries of pure science, that it were far better that specimens should be left in cabinets than that well-made foreign skins (German, of course) should be dragged forth to be clumsily balanced upon sticks and chunks of wood, there to stare at vacancy with eyes too prominent for their attenuated and ragged outlines.
The literature of the subject is by no means meagre. In a recently published work of some 450 pages, foolscap quarto, over thirty pages are devoted to an enumeration of the abridged titles of works in almost every language,ranging in date through more than two and a quarter centuries, the earliest, by Bolnest, having been published in 1672. They are written from all points of view; from that of the man who knows nothing at all of any art or science, but who discourses fluently, as is his wont, upon any subject he can lay pen to, to that of the man who knows a great deal, but who either cannot or will not tell it, Inter-mediate are those who write up common or obsolete methods in a common and misleading style : the greatest offenders in this particular line of taxidermic infamy being our own countrymen and their American imitators. The reason is not far away : both strongly object to learning any language under the sun but their own, despise the teachings of foreigners, and generally avoid art and science in relation to all things, especially taxidermy, as if they were pestilences. Again, the exponents of this art seem sharply divided into two opposing factions—the scientific or semi-scientific men, who write taxidermic rubbish on their own account or for others, and the crassly ignorant "stuffers," who flout all teaching which does not travel on the lines of their respected, but obsolete traditions.
A remedy for this state of things has engaged the attention of educated naturalists from the days of Charles Waterton to those of the present. Early in the century Waterton wrote words of weighty warning and of import.
" Twenty years have now rolled away since I first began to examine the specimens of zoology in our museums. As the system of preparation is founded in error, nothing but deformity, distortion, and disproportion will be the result of the best intentions and utmost exertions of the workman. Canova's education, taste, and genius enabled him to present to the world statues so correct and beautiful that they are worthy of universal admiration. Had a common stone-cutter tried his hand upon the block out of which these statues were sculptured, what a lamentable want of symmetry and fine countenance there would have been. Now, when we reflect that the preserved specimens in our museums and private collections are always done upon a wrong principle, and generally by low and illiterate people, whose daily bread depends upon the shortness of time in which they can get through their work, and whose opposition to the true way of preparing specimens can only be surpassed by their obstinacy in adhering to the old method; can we any longer wonder at their want of sucess ; or hope to see a single specimen produced that will be worth looking at?"
Years have passed, and the sting of his re-marks is not blunted one whit by any special efforts which the Anglo-Saxon races have made to shake off the odium attaching to slovenly and unskilled work, and to justify themselves in the eyes of the nations. Indeed, how can this state of things be avoided, when our national museum, so careful and so worthy of imitation in other matters, has no efficient taxidermic staff employed, and is content to " put out " its work to be botched up by cheap and inartistic men, so that, on going around the galleries, one is impressed by the fact that the taxidermic work is uneven and the work of many hands, and that for every good man who has made his mark there are nine others who have egregiously failed? It is not too much to say that many of the groups are only redeemed from the contempt which their amateurish and careless handling calls forth by the beautiful modelling of the flower and foliage accessories, although, without being hypercritical, one might suggest that some of these accessories are more conventional than natural.
In these pages an attempt will be made to condense all that is known of the present state of taxidermy, with its little-known but indispensable ally—modelling. Needless to say, the future of the art will not be in the hands of the ignorant or pretentious, but will tax the fullest powers of a trained intellect, to which is wedded the manual dexterity of the artist and modeller. That—perhaps partly due to the writer's insistence and teaching—there is growing up a cohort of young men pledged to these principles, is a pleasing augury for success, and it may be, as a writer in the National Observer said :
"Those who know good work will not be at all disposed to ridicule as exaggerated the contention that the good taxidermist should be an educated artist, designer, modeller, sculptor, biologist, and naturalist. The truth of the matter is that it creates a new career for youths with the necessary taste."
Methods of Setting-up and Mounting Mammals—In an article of this nature, it is a matter for grave consideration where to con-dense and where to expand, and at which end of the vertebrates to commence. For the purposes of convenience let the strict biological rule be ignored, and a beginning be made with the mammals, which are, after all, or rather before all, the most dear to the sportsman's heart. Lovely and lithe as most of them are in life, and graceful even in death, great skill is required to give even a semblance of life's vigorous reality to a skin by ordinary methods ; so difficult, indeed, is it, that there are probably not more than six men, of various nationalities, who could satisfy a really competent and critical judge of the proper contours and finer shades of expression peculiar to any given mammal. Even the very best of those selected six will fail in some particular, or in some mammal not his forte ; for one man may excel in the treatment of the Carnivora, and fail, say, in that of the Ungulata, whilst another mayreverse those conditions, and so on. The secret, perhaps, of the success of the few and the failure of the many is two-fold. The first element is the undoubted fact that taxidermists are not usually well educated, and are usually very jealous and secretive : with no esprit de corps, and no inter-communication for purposes of teaching or criticism, as in the case of pictorial artists, their art must suffer. The second disturbing factor is that the general public is quite hopeless in artistic matters, and is inanely content with the crudest absurdities.
Antelopes with half-opened mouths, a general air of brazen defiance, and six well-defined and evenly-spaced ridges and depressions distributed on the neck like the gills of a shark ; tigers smiling placidly, or bearing up bravely under the weight of unadulterated paint and putty which should, in all decency, choke, instead of accentuating, their ghastly grin ; foxes with one eye nearly on the top of the head, the other near the angle of the jaw ; domestic animals with one side bloated, the other atrophied ; limbs placed in any position convenient, not to the animal, but to the tastes of the operator : these are criminalities which the public does not recognise, is satisfied with, or condones. Thus what should be an exact art is ruined by the ignorance of its exponents and their clients.
Failures in the treatment of mammals result from several causes, the most fruitful being the ignorance or want of special training of the operator. One need not imagine that, when one-can set up a bird which is not absolutely a ragged bundle of feathered incongruity, and which may indeed be fairly natural in pose, that such slight knowledge assists with a mammal, which is, unfortunately for the student, not provided with a mass of comfortable fault-hiding feathers, but which has "points " all over its anatomy, and has a certain facial expression to. bp correctly represented.
Anatomy is the great stumbling-block. The ordinary " bird-stuffer" will not learn his bones, nor their relation to soft parts, and so long as a thing has a head and a tail and four limbs—one at each corner—that is sufficient, and any other points may be ignored.
The very rough and ready traditional methods of " setting up "--copied or translated ad" nauseam from one old tome to another—have not smoothed the path, and the unfortunate student who attempts to put these directions into practice, very soon finds a skin far too long and wide, and wonders what he is to do. with sundry flaps and bags of tegument which he had not previously noticed, and which do not appear to belong to the carcase before him. In the end he creates a boneless, but lumpy bag, and his admiration for his first effort is tempered with a growing awe for so super-natural a work, which can neither stand, sit, nor lie down, but holds an uneven and painful on the back, the lower parts, and the tail compromise between all three, itself, must be carefully skinned around. In Perhaps something can be done for him in the case of small mammals, it may be pulled the following pages, and the preliminary is correct skinning, and by skinning is meant something in contradistinction to flaying. This latter is a butcher's method of removing the skin, and with some slight modifications its practice is good enough for those big-game hunters who wish merely to preserve skins as trophies, without reference to their subsequent " setting-up."
To skin a lion, tiger, or any big-game specimen, strong knives of suitable lengths and shapes, with a pair of strong shears, are all the tools absolutely necessary ; but if a rope, pulley and beam can be provided in the case of weighty mammals, so much the better. In the field even, these may form a part of the outfit, but the comfort of a dissecting table must in most instances be dispensed with.
The subject—if it be impossible to skin it whilst warm, which is the easiest—should, as soon as rigor mortis has disappeared, be laid upon its back, the point of a knife should be inserted at the throat, and a cut be made ex-tending in a straight line to the tail, care being taken not to cut into the flesh too deeply, if at all, and certainly not into the bowels.
As the operation of skinning a large mammal—when properly performed—adds 'no little to the subsequent correct setting up, some little detail will be necessary. Commence, therefore, by getting the carcase, when possible, upon a dissecting table, and-let-a beam, pulley and rope be provided, and fixed in a suitable position above. The subject being laid upon its back, a cut should be made, extending on the median line from the throat to the tail; another incision must be made from the chest to the arm-pit of each of the fore-limbs, and thence nearly to the end of the humerus, exactly following the course of the fore-limbs and running along just inside (in order to hide the finishing stitches) down to the manus, splitting the large central pad. At the hind-limbs the cut must follow the inner line of the limb, and divide the central pad. A rope tied to each fore-limb helps to stretch it out, and the first step towards the removal of the skin is made by flaying it back, and by carefully working around—cutting towards the body, to prevent the slipping of the knife and consequent cutting of the skin. When the skin is loose enough underneath, the foot of one side is disjointed at the second joint of the toes, as also is the fore-limb, the inner-most toe being first detached. When skinned on one side, the operator continues the process on the other, extreme care being required in the management of the skin at the thin part of the flank.
When the skin is loosened sufficiently along both sides, and has been considerably relieved out without any cutting ; if it should refuse to come out clearly, cut it near the tip, underneath, and flay towards the body. The hind-quarters should next be slung by a rope, and, the skin having been pulled from underneath them, the rope should be shifted to the fore-quarters, in order to raise the head from the ground or table. Skin the neck and throat, and, if there be reason why the skull should subsequently remain within the skin, which is not necessary with the skilled operator, disjoint it at the atlas vertebra ; other-wise let it remain attached to the trunk. In either case, the ears, after being skinned a little distance towards their tips, should be detached close to the skull, leaving only small orifices, and one should be careful not to cut to their outsides.
One rule must be stringently observed, that, as there are many attachments in the region of the ear, the pupil must not cut on to the skin, but on the flesh, for any superfluous flesh left on the skin is very easy to remove, but holes are not so easily remedied. The same care must be used when skinning down to the eyes ; the left-hand fingers must feel for the eye, and the skinning around the orbit of the eye must be done close to the bone, so as not to sever the membranous coats ; that under the eye must be cut quite close to the eyeball, on the bone of the opposite ridge of the orbit. When this skin is freed, the next point is the loosening of that along the face underneath.
The other eye having been attended to in the same manner, the upper lip must be severed quite close to the teeth and the skinning carried on as far as the cartilage of the nose, which must be completely severed, causing the skin to drop and leave the front teeth uncovered. There now remain only the lower- jaw and its large mass of muscles around the canine teeth, to be detached.
This being done, the skin falls entirely off, taking with it some of the inner skin of the lips, nose and eyes. The carcase being removed, and the skin replaced on the table, the lips should be "split." This operation must be commenced either at the side or under the nostrils, where the membrane of the lips reveals itself as a shiny skin, as the two skins meet. One must be skinned away from the other, quite close to the edges of the lips, until they are attached only by a thin edge and form a perfect bag. The under-jaw, nostrils and eyes are " split " in the same way, also the middle cartilage of the nose, to make less difficult the process of skinning out. Lastly the ears, on which some flesh was left as a safeguard, must be relieved of it, and must be skinned along the edges until they are turned completely inside out.
For a lengthy description of the skinning of other and smaller mammals and horned heads, with their attendant differences, the reader may be referred to a recently published works Suffice it to say here that lesser mammals are not split up the limbs, and that their skulls are usually, although properly " trimmed," left attached at certain points to their skins.
Avoiding a poisonous preservative—usually inefficient-perhaps the best is that adopted by the present writer, viz.:
Burnt alum 4 parts Saltpetre 1 part
mixed and used dry or made into a paste with warm water, and in either case well rubbed into all the inside of the skin, and on all soft parts of the outside. The addition of a small quantity of carbolic acid, and also a small quantity of bichromate of potassa for very thick skins and in hot countries, is often beneficial. In all cases, the washing of the skin, if quite fresh, in strong salt and water (a saturated solution) to remove the blood, inside and out, before rubbing in the preservative, is of the highest importance. When not quite fresh, acetic acid (vinegar is a weak form of this) in varying strengths should be used with the salt and water.
The setting-up and mounting of mammals is, as may be conceived, determined by circumstances, and is varied in its methods.
To keep to the lion or tiger; such subjects are often mounted upon " mannikins," which are structures built up of board and iron rods covered with tow or with wood shavings (not hay nor straw, which probably mildew) worked into some resemblance of the carcase and finished up with modelling clay. The present writer invented what has been considered a more scientific and more correct method of getting the contours of all animals, by arranging the hardened carcase into the required attitude and casting therefrom, either as a whole or in parts, in plaster of Paris, and from the resulting moulds making paper models, upon which, when joined together, the skin is placed. These processes are substantially the same as those described in the following pages, dealing with the setting-up of an ostrich ; but those who desire fuller information about the various processes connected with the modelling of mammals are referred to pages 116—160 of the work previously mentioned.
When the mammal's skin is sewn and pinned with pointed wires) upon the model, the finer work of the colouring and insertion of the glass-spheres which replace the staring glass eyes—sold at so much a gross—and, after that, the filling and waxing of the soft parts' takes place, and finally comes the question as to the mounting," whether the animal shall be upon "rockswork" or what not,
Methods of Setting-up and Mounting Birds—Of all animated beings, birds have been the most hardly dealt with. The killing of the poor bird is not the worst fate that can 'befall it it is its lamentable perpetuation as a highly embalmed caricature.
There are also, unfortunately, some clever colourists and draughtsmen who are unconscious of their absurdities. When dealing with feathered life, they will, with very few exceptions, copy from the ragged, moth-eaten, and limp Mummies of the average bird-stuffer, instead of going direct to nature. When, as is often the case, flowers are correctly and beautifully drawn, as accessories to these bird studies, the incongruity is all the more painfully evident.
In five years, if the student works hard, he will recognise how little he knows, and in fifty he will know no more, unless he learns how to draw correctly birds in any position. That is the great secret, and the pupil, if he will not, or cannot, go. to nature and draw creditably, will be a "bird-stuffer" all his life. In a greater degree, perhaps, this dictum applies to mammals, although with them there are the aids of casting and moulding which, except in the instances of large birds such as the ostrich, are unattainable.
As with mammals, so with birds—correct skinning is of the highest importance. Let a starling or a rook (both tough birds) be procured, or, if neither of these can be obtained, let a pigeon, which is easily purchased, take its place, the only drawback being that this latter bird is by no means so suitable for untrained fingers, and is indeed distinctly tender in such parts as those over the back and tail. Now, provided with the necessary scalpel, knives, and scissors, get to work by plugging the nostrils and mouth of the specimen with cotton wool. Lay the bird upon its side, with the head pointing to the right, and open it, not on the breast as most teachers and books re-commend, but under the wing.
Skinning on the old lines is utterly incorrect both in theory and in practice, and is without one single recommendation, the disadvantages being that the bowels may be cut into by the learner, and so soil a white breast, and usually the skin is torn at the edges and stretched ; afterwards comes the greater difficulty of shaping, and then the cut must be sewn up. After a time a rusty line of grease, drawn out of the skin by capillary attraction, declares itself.
With a pair of pliers in the right hand, take hold of the quill feathers with the left, draw out the wing as far as it will come, and, where it joins the body, put the nose of the pliers and break the bone. Do like-wise with the other wing. Pick out that side of the bird which is the most badly mutilated and on it make the first cut (the state of the head should first be taken into account, as the head gives the bird nearly all its character). Turn the head diagonally toward the front, and, with the knife in the right hand, divide the feathers under the wing at the side of the breast and make a cut about half an inch long, through which the flesh of the body may be seen. Turn the body round in an exactly opposite direction, so that the tail points away, slip the point of the knife between the skin and the flesh, and cut as far as the femur, taking care to cut upwards, for fear that the skin may be damaged. With the knife-edge directed towards the flesh, relieve the skin over the back for about half an inch, do likewise along the opposite edge of the wing, breast and femur, and place some wadding between the skin and the flesh to keep the feathers clean. Loosen the skin around the broken wing bone, and detach it. If a little flesh still remain on the bone and skin in spite of all the care bestowed on it, it must be carefully removed to avoid making any holes. Leaving the wing, disarticulate the leg or cut the bone through at the junction of the femur and the tibio-tarsus ; in the latter case the femur will remain joined to the body, and the tibio-tarsus will fall away with the skin. Pull the crop-membrane care-fully back towards the body, take hold of it with the right hand, and with the left push the neck within the skin. Cut through the neck and windpipe, at the same time holding away the skin and feathers from the flesh. Let the head fall out of the fingers of the left hand and put a little wadding around the neck, or push a wire through it, in order that it may be the more firmly grasped. The skin is still attached to the wing, leg and tail. Take hold of the body with the left hand, and, while keeping the feathers from contact with the flesh, relieve the skin on the uncut wing and back. The student should notice that the skin on the back is exceptionally thin, and therefore must be scraped away and not pulled. This done, that on the breast or side may be loosened so as to come away easily from under the wing ; and the knife being slipped in, the upward cut may be made which detaches the bone where broken. When the femur is exposed, push it up from the outside and cut through with the shears, being careful to exclude any skin.
The skinning of this part is a tiresome task until the tail is reached, as the skin is so very thin that, to detach it, it must be scraped from the bones. At the abdomen also it clings very tightly, and the knife must be used very sparingly, or the membrane over the bowels may be damaged, thereby endangering the feathers.
All this scraping and scarcely appreciable cutting over these parts will probably take a quarter of an hour, and must be continued untilthe pubes are passed. At this point it will be wise to let the bird lie supine on the table, merely supporting the tail above and below, and scraping until, in front, the vent is reached, and the oil-gland at the tail.
Slipping the knife underneath, and around, the final cut may be made which completely severs the skin from the body. Before the body is finally disposed of, it will be as well, of course, to take all the usual measurements and also determine the sex.
The skin being entirely detached from the body, it is necessary to start with the trimming of all flesh from the legs, wings, head and tail ; the last, being already in the hand, may be operated upon first.
Carefully take away all flesh and fat with the scissors from both the tail and the skin which surrounds it. Now free the legs from skin down to the junction of the tibio-tarsus and the tarso-meta-tarsus. Take care not to pierce through to the outside when cutting away the ligaments ; after the latter are cut away with a knife-point, the flesh may be removed from the bones with the finger and thumb.
The wings have now to be considered, and are decidedly the most troublesome. The flesh and pieces of broken bone must be removed, but the part still attached to the wing must be left untouched, as it furnishes something to take hold of.
The skin on the under side of the wing must be loosened until the flesh can be seen around the radius and ulna. Take away the broken bone, and remove all the flesh from the radius. and ulna by cutting and soraping with scissors and knife. The head and neck now remain. Take the latter in one hand, and press the skin over it, towards the beak, with the other, until coming to the place where the skin is found to adhere firmly to the ears, dip the finger and thumb in plaster or sand, and—preferably pull the ears right out from their attachments, or, if they will not be persuaded, trim them out.
The skin around the eyeballs must be very carefully detached by cutting towards the back of the head, and when it is quite free a brain-scoop may be put into the orbit, pushed under the eyeball, and the latter pulled out without being burst. A plug of wool must be pushed into the orbit to clean it. The skin on the top of the skull must be loosened with a knife or the brain-scoop, well up to the base of the beak. Under and in front of the orbits, and at the side of the face, a little more skinning is required, to free the head from skin to the base of the beak.
If the tongue be not wanted within the beak, put the knife between it and the. skull, then pull forward, when tongue and windpipe will come away. Where the neck joins the head disconnect it, but do not cut away the back of the skull, as the brains may be easily removed from the back of the eye-sockets.
Now take a preservative, and, if the student is wise, he will use a non-poisonous preservative in those initial stages which necessitate the hand-ling of the skin, and afterwards follow with a mercurial solution. This is highly poisonous, and the only efficient protection known against the ravages of insects. It is applied with a brush after the specimen is " set-up," and permeates the skin, but is not handled by the operator.
The first is :
Non-poisonous preservative soap ---
Whiting or chalk . . . . 1 1/2 lbs. White Windsor soap (common curd soap) . . . 1/2 lb. Chloride of lime . . . . 1/2 oz. Tincture of musk . . . . 1/2 oz.
The price of musk of late years is so prohibitive that unless it becomes cheaper it must be replaced by Eucalyptus oil. The finishing wash, to be labelled " Deadly Poison," is :
Alcoholic solution of mercury—
Methylated spirits of wine 90 per cent 1 pint Bichloride of mercury 50 grains 2 1/2 scruples.
Paint every part of the skull and skin and the bones of the wings, legs, and tail well, but do not paint the feathers. Turn the skin back again to its normal position, with the feathers outside, and then proceed to " make a skin."
Through the opening made by the removal of the brain, fill the skull with chopped tow ; and fill the orbits with wadding. (Note that where wadding is used the sharpest wire will fail to penetrate it.)
To prevent shrinking of the head, and to allow of any correction in shape that may be necessary when the head is returned, plaster it over thinly with soft pipe-clay or a modelling composition, forcing it in well above the beak and the sides of the face. Partially fill the throat with tow also.
Gather up the skin of the neck in the fingers of both hands and return the head through the neck, but be careful not to catch the bill in the skin and so tear it. This may be obviated in great measure by previously passing a thread through the nostrils and tying it around the bill. With care and by gentle pulling with the fingers, the head will, in the end, be in its natural position. Arrange the feathers with a fine needle and, if any ridges have been formed and held by the clay inside, bring them backwards, usually, sometimes forwards, by the aid of the needle. The hollows in the wings, caused by the removal of the flesh, are filled with tow, and a threaded needle is passedthrough between the radius and ulna, and around the radius of each wing, the ends of the thread being drawn until the wings are at their proper distance apart.
Around the leg-bones (tibio-tarsi), wrap tow to replace the flesh, and then pull them back into their proper places.
The next process is to make a false body—. preferably of tow—about the size of, or a little less than, the natural one. This is done by taking a piece of wire of suitable gauge, long enough to reach from the inside of the skull to the beginning of the tail, and upon this wrapping tow at one end to form a neck, leaving unwrapped, however, as much wire as is represented by the depth of the skull. When this is done, wind the tow lower and bind firmly, copying the shape of the natural body. At the end of the wire the tow must be very thinly wrapped, and come to an apex to represent the narrowing at the tail. That there may be no slipping, turn the wire backwards on to the body.
If the false body be ill-shaped, bind it with hemp, and occasionally flatten it, until it be-oomes of a pear-shaped form.
To put the body into the skin, take it in the right hand, raise the skin with the left, put the uncovered point of the wire—unsharpened, if possible,—followed by the artificial neck into the palatal part of the skull, and then, with a little management, insert the whole body into the skin. Let the breast feathers lie over the breast of the false body, and let the tail touch the apex, settle the wings properly, distribute the feathers as in nature, get the whole of the back into good order, and fasten the wings in position by pins which pass from one to the other through the artificial body.
A trough should be made of board, with the sides of a height according to the size of the skin, and over it a piece of straw-board should be tacked. Place in the trough a thin layer of wadding, and on this lay the bird upon its back, so that the breast may be attended to. Settle the feathers properly (for this is final), cross or tie the legs, and arrange the head naturally, turning it to one side should it be long-billed. Any feathers which are untidy may be bound in place with cotton or hemp.
In place of this trough, skilled taxidermists use a paper strip, arranged around the bird after the final disposition of the feathers, and pinned at the ends.
There are other methods which the clever skin-maker will probably discover for himself, such as wrapping the skin in wadding or using two or three cross bands of 'tissue-paper, but, in any case, it is imperative to correct all irregularities before the skin becomes dry. A label should of course be attached to the legs, giving all information as to name of specimen, sex, locality, date of capture, name of collector, and colour of eyes and soft parts generally. A well-shaped skin should be indistinguishable from a dead bird, with feathers perfectly smooth, wings closed and legs crossed.
The skinning and making of a skin being disposed of, the important process of "setting up " comes next. Ordinarily, it is done either by wiring the legs, the wings, the head, and the tail, and filling in and shaping by cotton wool or tow—i.e., the "soft-body" method—or by carving peat or cork into 'some semblance of a body, and thrusting wires therein, inserted from the outside through the legs and so on, or by making a " mannikin " of tightly bound tow or wood-fibre, placing it within the skin as a fictitious body, and arranging the wires in the best manner to do their supporting work. This "hard-body" method is, or should be, superseded, either by one adapted or by one invented by the present writer. The first deals with the question of retaining the whole of the skeleton of a small bird as a- guide to its form, which has much to recommend it, especially as most taxidermists retain the bones of the legs; the wings, the tail and the skull, within the skin, thus leaving only the skeleton of the carcase or the "cage " undealt with. This, when freed from flesh, washed with strong carbolic acid and otherwise cured, worked over with tow and perhaps a little clay to replace the flesh removed, becomes the semi-artificial body to be replaced within the skin, and on this the skull, wing-bones, leg-bones and tail are wired in their exact positions, as in nature. Thus, if moderate care and skill follow in the final
setting up," the bird should be more life-like than it would become by ordinary methods. It has been urged against this process by those who have never tried it,—first, its difficulty, next, its liability to the. attacks of insects. The first may be disposed of by saying that nothing is done, which is well done, or worth doing, without difficulty, and that it is not really so difficult as would appear; the second contention is disposed of, by the fact that all the bones are washed with carbolic, or creosote, or the non-poisonous soap, and the skin itself, after the bird is" set up" and finished, is washed by a solution of bi-chloride of mercury in spirits of wine. This, it need hardly be observed, is a deadly poison, and should, not be touched by the hands. Arsenical or other poisonous soaps are painted inside the skin, and must be handled in " setting up," but the mercurial wash is applied 'outside, after the subject, be it bird or mammal, is finished, and therefore necessitates no handling,
This method of using the whole of the skeleton is, in the ease of large birds, superseded by the other plan mentioned—the modelled body, which isused in the Leicester Museum for all mammals. The following description of the modelling and "setting-up of an ostrich will,with modifications, do duty for the treatment of the vertebrate sub-kingdom.
At the outset, the specimen to he "set up," was measured, the colour of its soft parts and other details noted, and the feet, legs, thighs, neck, head, and other soft parts were washed in methylated spirits seventy per cent., to harden the skin generally, and also to fix the scales of the legs, which might otherwise have " slipped " in handling.
The bird was placed on its back on a dissecting table, being propped under the thighs, &c., with blocks of wood to maintain it in proper position. As it was in-tended that the bird should be mounted looking towards the left, an incision was made along the right margin of the central feathers, so that the ultimate stitching should not be seen. This was continued backwards to the tip of the tail, and forward, still following the edge line of feathers right round the sternum, down the under surface of the wing to the tip. Skinning was comparatively easy, until the masses of fat at the breast and round the base and. sides of the tail were met with. As it was intended that a plaster cast of the body should be made, no more fat was- left on the skin than was unavoidable. The whole side being laid bare, with the skin freed before and behind to its utmost limits, skinning was continued over the knee and down the leg to the junction of the heel, where it was disarticulated by means of an incision made from the outside. The skin of the leg was not in any way split except at this point. The tibio-tarsus was removed from the body at the junction of the femur, with all its relative muscles attached.
The same process was gone through with the other side, the whole front of the breast being laid bare without any necessity for dividing the skin further. In under-cutting the cloacàl aperture, it was found necessary to plug it with wadding and to tie the end of the intestine freed by this process, Having skinned down both sides, further operations were greatly assisted by partly hoisting the bird with a pulley, tail upwards, and commencing at that part, the skin by its weight assisting the process of freeing the back.
The neck was turned back as in small birds, the knife, however, being in constant use, to free it from the enveloping skin, and it was found necessary to make an incision on the side of the head near the top and to continue it for an inch or two up the neck to free and disarticulate it, after which the neck was easily got at. The left wing was cleaned by slitting it underneath from the tip to the point where it had previously been freed from the inside, thus avoiding the division of the skin across the breast. The wing-bones and head, the whole of the skin, and such bones as were attached, were thoroughly cleaned of flesh and fat, then well rubbed with the mammal preservative and left for some little time.
Afterwards, the. toes and feet were slit up vertically, also the legs on their insides ; the sinews, &c., were removed, and the bones and skin well rubbed with preservative. Next two iron rods (half an inch or five. eighths of an inch thick), tapped at one end for about six inches, were passed down the hollows of the leg-bones and out through the feet, 'the tapped portions protruding for some distance. The removed sinews, &c., were now replaced With pipe-clay, modelled to shape, and the skin carefully sewn up. - A board or block of suitable size and thickness was now provided, having two holes bored for the reception of the protruding irons of the feet in such a position that these stood each four and a half inches from the median line, i.e., nine inches apart, the right foot, however, being posed about six inches behind the left.
Whilst the skin was curing, the mould of the body was proceeded with, but owing to its bulk it was necessary to cast it in three separate parts,. viz.: (t) neck ; (2) body ; and (3) right and left tibio-tarsi together. The first and third operations will be described later; the second is as follows :- -
Three sacks of plaster—which were all used—were obtained, and a galvanised iron bath with a handle at each end, holding about a pailful and a half, was found very convenient in which to mix the plaster with water. Another bath of water stood near for the necessary rapid washing and rinsing of hands and utensils, whilst the work was proceeding. Two operators were required, one to supply the mixing bath with the proportions of water and dry plaster, and the other to do the hand-mixing and actual casting.
The form of the specimen being studied, with a view to its proper relieving from the mould subsequently, it was found expedient to place the bird upon its back, raised from the bench by a small piece of wood, one inch deep, placed under the lowest angle in the lumbar vertebral region. A four-sided wooden frame was constructed around, which cleared the specimen inside by an inch each way, and rose an inch above the level of the ventral surface ; here n the carcase was temporarily propped in a manner similar to a vessel dry-docked, Cracks between boards were stopped with putty, and the inside of the frame was well oiled.
All being ready, the plaster was expeditiously mixed in successive bathfuls and poured into the box until the back was embedded, and until it reached the mid-level of the horizontally-placed tail and femora on both sides, leaving the top half of each exposed.
This constituted the first section of the cast, which,after a short time allowed for setting, was well oiled on its surface, and the next proceeded with.
First the spaces between the sternum and pelvis and their respective ends of the frame were divided by pieces of wood cut to shape and stopped with putty ; these, of course, together with the exposed portion of the specimen, dividing the box longitudinally.
Into one of these divisions plaster was again poured to within three or four inches of the top of the ventral surface of the specimen, the wooden partitions were removed, and the other side similarly treated. A single cast was now made over the remaining exposed portion, similar to the back, although of course of much smaller bulk. Several hours were allowed to elapse before delivering.
The casting of the neck and tibio-tarsi was a more simple process. Wooden frames to hold them having been loosely constructed, so as easily to knock apart, plaster was poured in to a depth of from two to three inches, and, when this had set to a suitable density, known only by experience, the objects were gently laid upon it and pressed down to a level of half their thicknesses or more, according to necessity. When hardened, keyed, and oiled, the top cast was made, completing the operation.
Some little time elapsed before operations connected with the making of the paper model could take place, as all plaster moulds when first made are exceedingly damp, and, when required immediately, especially if in winter, must be artificially dried by placing near a fire or furnace, though not so close as to cause cracking, which would certainly result from overheating. In summer, however, exposure to sun and air would probably be sufficient, assisted by fire if wanted for immediate use. Into these moulds, when oiled, were pressed series of layers of paper in this order.
(1) A layer of white tissue-paper, pasted on under side only.
(2) Layers of cap or newspaper, pasted on both sides.
(3) Layers of moderately thick brown paper, pasted on both sides.
(4) Layers of stout brown paper, pasted on both sides. By applying alternate layers of two differently shaded brown papers unequal distribution was obviated, thus ensuring uniform thickness and strength. After drying a few days the paper casts were relieved ; irregularities of surface, caused by adhesion to the plaster, pasted down into place, overlapping edges trimmed, and the vertebral, or back portion, and two sides joined together with glued calico and paper strips, converting them into one piece.
The two neck-pieces were next joined together ; they contained a stout wire, gauge nine, around which sufficient tow had been bound to fill the hollow model. This wire protruded at the lower end about eight inches for insertion and fixing in the body, which was effected by cutting a hole-in the model and fastening the inserted portion with glued tow and calico strips. At the other end of the neck, about six inches of naked wire was left exposed as a subsequent head-support. The sternal portion was then fixed, thus completing the neck, and body.
Next, the block on which the legs were fixed, with their long irons protruding upwards, was placed squarely under a beam which ran across the ceiling, from which was suspended the body at the correct angle and proper height from the surface of the block on which the feet rested, care being taken that the central axis of the body corresponded with the median line between the feet, the vertical position of the neck being ensured by a plumb line.
Next, the end of each leg-wire was pushed through the thickened end of its respective femur and filed off ; and these irons, when bent at proper angles, severally formed the central axis and support of each tibio-tarsus, the inside half of which was first fixed in position and secured, and then the outer one. In the hollows of the thighs between the legs and the body was wedged glued tow, also well packed round about the irons, especially at their extremities. The model, now complete, received a coat or two of turpentine and flake-white and was allowed to dry.
Lastly, the skin, which during all the preceding processes had dried as hard as a board, was soaked in warm water, often changed, for two or three days, and was then scraped throughout to remove all fat and the hard inner layer of skin, until after some time it became as pliable as a glove. The feathers, cleaned somewhat by the soaking, were wiped down with benzoline and plaster thrown on to clean and dry them still further. This done, all imperfect parts, or those not of a good shape, were modelled over with pipe-clay, worked very smooth with paste, and retained in position on the model by means of "cap-paper" pasted over all. The skull, still attached to the skin, was modelled up and placed upon the neck of the model, the skin of the neck being gradually drawn over it, and the remainder drawn over the model, one leg, the right, being further split for that purpose. The skin of the wings, legs, and body having been pulled into position and nicely adjusted, were care-fully sewn together with skin-needles and strong thread. Then followed the adjusting of the face and eyes, and, more difficult still, the bringing together of the edges of the cut skin of the femur and reconciling it by means of a wax composition with the scutes of the tibio-tarsal joint. Finally, the feathers were cleaned and dried by being wiped down with benzoline followed by plaster of Paris, and well beaten out. All sewn edges were worked over with the wax composition, the scutes of the legs, where missing, replaced by modelling-composition, and the legs and all soft parts coloured according to the notes primarily taken.
Methods of " Setting Up " and Mounting Fishes—If mammals and birds have been badly used by the " stuffer," surely the fishes can bitterly complain of the indignities piled upon them by an attempt to resuscitate them by taxidermic processes, for no known processes of taxidermy, which necessitate the removal of cartilage and its substitution by a foreign material, can ever reproduce the gelatinous appearance which certain parts of fishes present. Supposing any fish be skinned as recommended in most books, what is done with the face? Literally nothing, for there are certain parts which resist any tools, however cunningly fashioned, in their attempts to coax out the flesh, and the cleverest taxidermist, who fancies he succeeds, never awakens to the fact that, outside the head and other parts, great shrinkage and shrivelling of the tegument result upon drying, and therefore a stuffed fish is the most unnatural thing in the whole range of taxidermy, even if done in what is called splendid style. Such "splendour " means a nicely varnished and very plump body, with shrivelled bases to the fins, and wrinkles all over the skull. Wax superimposed is only a partial success, and if fishermen would be content with the actual form of their capture, correct in every particular, and with the finest markings shown upon the scales as in nature, and not hanker " after the actual skin, with all its manifest imperfections and absurdities, there would be no taxidermic piscine mummies. The remedy for all this is casting from the actual subject as soon after capture as may be, which faithfully reproduces the exact form.
Really, taxidermy is powerless to represent fishes correctly, and the only method to secure exactitude is making a model in plaster or other media, and reproducing from that. In the first place a casting box should be provided, and -this is quite simple in its construction, being merely four pieces of wood of any suitable lengths, two of which are not quite so wide as the others, the widest being .slotted sufficiently .at one end to allow the two narrower pieces -to slide through them. By placing the wider pieces parallel to each other, slots downwards and at the contrary extremities, and then inserting an end of one of the narrower pieces in each slot, with the other end touching the inner face of one of the wider pieces, a square is formed, the size of which can be diminished or increased at will by merely sliding the narrower pieces through, and along the faces of, the wider -ones.
There are three prominent methods of making moulds in plaster, i.e., direct casting, waste moulds, and piece moulds.
Probably the best method of casting fishes in plaster is the following :---
Keep the specimen in a hardening solution for a short time, and afterwards well wash it. If flat, lay it on a slab of slate or glass ; if not, on a board slightly larger than itself. Pu pieces of half-inch board underneath the dorsal, lower ventral, anal and caudal fins as a means of support, but not under the uppermost pectoral and ventral ones.
If any gaps occur between the ends of the pieces of wood, or where the sides of the fish do not quite touch the wood, fill up with putty. If the boards are too thin to hold tip the fins to their ordinary height, elevate them with putty or by means of a second board of suitable thickness.
It is obvious that boards—used in preference to glass, cardboard, or slate—admit of the specimens being pinned to them, to prevent their being floated up by the plaster.
The pins used must be cut off quite close to the fins, in order that there may be no difficulty in removing them when the specimen is turned over, and all boards must be wetted or oiled and the fish kept damp—with water, or glycerin and water, put on with a soft brush—and clean, by taking off all dirt and putty.
If the pectoral or ventral fins are to lie flat on the fish when finished, they must be made to do so now; if to be raised, they must be held up, until set in the position decided on.
At this stage, build either wooden or zinc walls, stop up all cracks with putty, damp the fish, and pour in the plaster carefully. When it is dry, take away the walls, the boards and the putty, and turn the parts of the mould containing the fish upside down.
If the work has been done satisfactorily, the under half of the fish can now be seen, and should be gently brushed and wetted. The remainder is still in the mould, on the surface of which, now visible, keys should be cut, and most important of all, it must be oiled.
Again build up the walls, fill up the cracks with patty, and pour on plaster.
In about a quarter of an hour, by gentle persuasion, the halves will come away from one another, and the fish can be taken out of its shell—care being required that the fins be not torn by the pins.
If the fins were raised, they mast he protected from in-jury by supporting the mould on pieces of wood. To make a cast of the pectoral and ventral fins, wash the fish, and replace it on the board with another board under the fins. Surround it with a little wall of patty and pour on plaster as usual.
Sometimes it is only necessary to make a cast of one side of the fins, on the side which is to be shown, but it is usual to take moulds of both sides, and of both sides of each right and left paired fin.
If the skeleton be not required and the fish be not le nt solely for the purpose of casting, the above operation is unnecessary, and the following is preferable :
Remove the ventral and pectoral fins after a cast has been taken, and put them by the side of the fish, which is set for casting, the result being that both surfaces of the fins will be seen on the same block as the fish; this is a capital safeguard against loss or error. In drying the mould, take care that it does not remain so long before the fire as to make it too brittle or too much like chalk, and, when dry, paint it over once or twice with colza-oil.
Many clever modellers think water preferable to oil with which to dress the mould, but oil at least obviates the difficulty of distinguishing mould from model when the edges are being trimmed.
A modification of " waste-mould " casting is to colour the plaster to be used for the first coat, and pour it very thinly over the specimen and let it set. Cover it with oil or soft soap and then pour on a thin coat of un-coloured plaster, oil and coat again, until of a thickness that will prevent the breaking of the mould when the specimen is removed. Remember how many layers were used, or introduce a different colour each time, soap or oil the mould, pour plaster into it, let it set, and then commence to take away—with a hammer, chisel, or with modelling-tools—the plaster layers one by one. When the last one is arrived at be very careful in removing it ; this done, the whole object reveals itself.
Where either a fish, snake, or lizard is concerned, the edges of the mould should reach beyond the specimen to be cast to provide a tablet on which the model should rest, and this should be flattened and smoothed by suit-able tools.
On the other hand, casting from a large specimen by means of piece-moulds is a much more difficult operation ; and the subject, be it mammal, bird, or fish, must he carefully studied and looked over, with a view to "undercuts." These are certain portions that, when cast upon, would not "relieve" or come away without the breakage of the mould ; this method has been sufficiently explained in the article upon the casting of the body of the ostrich, and is rarely required for the reproduction of fishes, save the very largest. With reptile:, however, it is different ; they have limb; which do not readily relieve as do their analogues in fishes, and with them, and with many of the higher invertebrates, piece-casting must be resorted to, unless, indeed, they are sufficiently small to be covered with a glue, gutta-percha, or wax mould.
The first, or glue process, pre-supposes the possession of a good modelling-glue, and one adopted by the writer gives first-rate results :-
Glue (best Scotch) 6 parts Water 1 part Glycerin 7 parts Linseed-oil 2 parts
The glue is wrapped in a cloth and broken very small, then melted in the ordinary manner in a glue-kettle, but with no more water added to it than the one part allowed. During the melting, the oil and glycerin are separately made hot, also in a water bath, taking care of fire.
The glycerin is added first in small quantities, and, when the glue has taken it up, the oil is added gradually and the whole is stirred and boiled together. Six hours should be sufficient to cause the whole to become intimately mixed.
This admirable preparation is not only of service for the making of moulds, but is of the highest value for the making of models also.
It has its limitations, however. It is not advisable to use it upon or within a damp object or mould, or upon either unoiled, and the size of the object to be represented must also be taken into consideration. It is not suitable for any natural objects of extreme size or over ten pounds in weight, but its advantages -up to that are manifest in the ease with which, either as a mould or model, it "relieves." This is so marked that, as a, mould, it is merely necessary to cover the object, and afterwards halve the glue covering wherever convenient.
As a model, its elasticity and toughness are such as to permit it to leave the most intricate undercuts with the greatest ease; and such things as frogs, snakes, and curiously-shaped fishes, fungi, and seaweeds are correctly expressed thereby, and when coloured to nature are in-distinguishable from the originals.
Some few precautions are necessary,' such as thinly varnishing the glue mould and letting the varnish set before plaster is poured in, and oiling a plaster mould with colza-oil before pouring in the glue, and, above all, painting the finished models as soon as may be with oil-colours. No change whatever takes place if this be done, and there are specimens finished and unfinished,' the latter protected by a coat of oil-white, which have been in the Leicester Museum for five or more years without any shrinking or cracking.
For groups of small fishes, to be reproduced finally in plaster, paraffin wax is of the highest value, as it may be poured over a slightly damped surface, and, if it sets too rapidly, the addition of more wax causes it again to liquefy, and it flows over every part of the' surface, and results as a perfectly hard mould with extreme definition in every part. When objects made of fine plaster do not readily relieve from a wax mould, it most be treated as a Waste one, and be melted away from the plaster model by hot water, and the wax can be used again.
Up to the present, the processes described, with the exception of the passing mention of the glue composition, have dealt with the reproduction of forms in plaster. This, however, is heavy, and almost impossible to colour so as to disguise its composition, and is, though of respectable antiquity and improved - upon by modern methods, unable to bear comparison with methods invented or adapted by the writer.
" Carton-pierre" and its improvements are not limited by any considerations of size or weight, and the smallest and the largest objects can be perfectly represented, not only by exact form and definition but by colour.
There are several varieties of paper compositions,. which the present writer has called the -" Direct paper-process, " Pulped paper-process," and "Improved Carton-pierce." The first, used for representations of large fishes, reptiles, and for the models of the carcases-of large birds and mammals, is that described when dealing with the model of the ostrich.
The second is made by taking certain proportions of flour mixed with water into a stiff paste, and flour mixed with linseed-oil, and combining them with tissue-paper by pounding in a mortar, the resultant mass being pressed into the oiled moulds and taken out when dry.
The very best of all paper pulps is the ` Improved Carton-pierre," and this is of such extreme lightness when the model is dry, that it weighs but half an ounce-to every pound of the original specimen.
Thus a twenty pound fish weighs ten ounces only in the completed model, the definition being extreme, and it takes colour beautifully. Indeed, it is not too much to-say. that this and the glue process should for ever dismiss. taxidermic processes in the reproduction of fishes, reptiles, and soft objects generally.
The figures represent a Thornhack Ray, modelled by-the oil, flour and water, pulped-paper process, and a. Lump-fish done in the "Improved carton-pierre."
Mounting Natural Objects—The ordinary "mounting" is merely a sanded board, or a perch of wood, Extraordinary " mounting " is when the object is mounted with modelled "rockwork" or finely and correctly-modelled foliage and flowers.
Supposing a large wall-case be needed to hold animals in different attitudes, make a false bottom and join to it some upright boards which will be of the heights suitable to the rockwork. Old cardboard, in fact anything or paper sufficiently strong, can be bent into rough shapes suitable to the design decided on, and nailed on to the board, and brown paper should be glued all over the card board. To form rounded edges, make them up by roughly-gluing on pieces of crumpled paper, or by laying on pieces of cardboard, and cover with glue-1 or pasted' paper. When finished, no wrinkles should be shown —fill them in, if any, with pasted or glued wadding,—arid the whole should be glued and sanded. An artist with a fertile imagination may "create" a rock with some success, but it is best to go to nature for inspiration, and to take a rock of any size and make an absolute copy therefrom, and the result should be, not a weak and erroneous imitation, but a reproduction which should' deceive even a geologist.
Oil the natural object well, and use for the base that side of the stone which is the least important. Paste tough brown paper over one side of the stone, thus trans ferring from the stone to the first layer of paper all its characteristics. Follow this only by a sufficient number of layers to prevent the paper from collapsing when dry, removing the stone when the model is dry or nearly so. A better method, which reproduces all detail, is to cast the rocks in plaster of Paris, and, if too large to cast: in one piece; "piece-casting" is resorted to. When the mould is dry and oiled and the pieces are attached to one another, paste the paper inside the model ; if necessary, the paper may be thickened considerably, for the finest markings are on the surface in this case, and not within the model as in the previous process.
If the original rock, from which models or copies were taken, have a sandy or rough surface, then glue and sand must be used to represent it faithfully, and the colouring may be accomplished by using tints of common powder: colours thinned with turpentine or linseed-oil. All finishing touches must be aided, if possible, by the rock itself as a guide.
If the rocks are smooth, they must be brushed over with a special preparation made by one part of each of powdered whiting and plaster of Paris, mixed with sufficient thin flour-paste and water to make it into a paint. ,
A white under-ground invariably adds lustre and purity of colouring, and, should the whiting develop small cracks, this may sometimes aid the general effect. If the stones themselves present a smooth surface, instead of whiting use dry flake-white mixed with turpentine, and, when dry, rub down with sand-paper till smooth ; if it is inclined to crack, leave out the plaster altogether.
In reproducing rockwork the student should be careful not to cast from the inner and newly-broken faces of rocks to represent a weather-worn cliff, face, nor to use plaster tablets, to be laboriously joined together, when the much lighter and more easily worked paper does so much better. -
Artificial trees are ordinarily made by wrapping tow around wire until name kind of twig is fashioned ; this, to make it more "life-like," is sanded or has sawdust glued upon it, and is coloured, sometimes a brilliant red, often a no less brilliant green, and results in a fancy conception utterly unlike anything in the botanical world. Sometimes a cylinder of paper is made, from which sprout excrescences intended to do duty for limbs ; when, however—as is usually the case,—the " tree" does not measure more than a few-inches in height, the absurdity is manifest, and the safer method is to take nature for a guide, and carefully copy from the tree or branch itself, making the foundation with cardboard or stiff paper, re-producing the "bark" by means of tissue-paper, and copying the colouring from the actual object. The only true representation, however, is that made in paper from a plaster of Paris mould—usually in several pieces —which is unmistakably correct in shape, and maybe made correct in colour by any one possessing the requisite knowledge.
Natural trunks and branches of trees must be rigorously excluded from cases, as "insects eventually appear, especially in birch trees, and are very destructive foes. They may be detected by the yellowish dust they make when boring through the wood. Mosses, used as accessories in cases, must be, carefully dried, the dirt taken out of them, and they must be put into a- bath of turpentine, to kill the larva of insects.
Sphagnum or bog moss, and beautiful lichens, of almost every colour, can be used advantageously for this purpose. Grasses, such as the sheep's fescue, several of the brome-grasses, the wall and sea barleys, and many other stiff kinds, dry without much shrinkage, and take colour well.
The colouring most be applied discreetly, and must be thinned with turpentine, and, if varnish be used, it must also be thinned, to give the grasses a silky appearance, but not a shiny surface.
Other grasses and reeds may be used, but bulrushes and sedges are of no value, and are distinctly out of place except in very large cases, and then they must be modelled in the art fabric used for flowers and foliage, the methods of which cannot, however, be described here for want of space, but are to be found fully detailed in the work previously mentioned.
No dried leaves, except as such, are permissible in cases ; the fronds of fern (bracken) dry beautifully, and may with skill be made to look very well, if colour, asdistinguished from paint, be discreetly used. Seaweeds are a hideous failure, unless cast from the original and modelled by the glue process ; some of the corallines are permissible, and some sea-shells may be used, if the -common error of making razor-shells adhere to rock, and such like absurdities, be eschewed.
"Groups," such as those in the British and the Leicester Museums, are the outcome of all taxidermic knowledge aided largely by the art of modelling—whether applied to the forms of the animals, or of their accessories, or both,—and their value, like that of a picture, depends upon a just conception and faithful delineation of form, colour, balance of light and shade, and composition, and, if these principles be properly taught and insisted upon, a great and glorious future awaits the art of taxidermy and its trained exponents.