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Thread: Looking for a taxidermist?

  1. #1
    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    Default Looking for a taxidermist?

    With the high number of taxidermists in this great state of ours, I want to emphasize to folks looking for a taxidermist some things about my studio and my work. I have been a taxidermist for 15 years now. Most of that working for a well established taxidermy studio here in the valley, but a few years with my own business as well (here and in Tok). I was fortunate to work for a very good taxidermist and be able to hone my skills there. Truthfully, I feel that taxidermy is a career in which one never ever stops learning. I certainly hope I don't!

    Taxidermy is a very personal subject. It elicits many emotions by it's very nature. Taxidermy is an attempt (hopefully successful) at bringing life to something that is no longer living. It should be inspiring, educational, artistic, and above all else, beautiful. I really love taxidermy, I love going to work every day, and I hope it shows in the pieces I create.

    From a business and personal perspective, I believe people deserve the very best in quality taxidermy. By very best, I mean VERY best in all aspects of the mount and customer service. That includes using the best materials, best tannery, the most realistic glass eyes, using the animal’s actual nose rather than a reproduction one - which looks like plastic (because it is) - and giving the animal ‘expression’ that matches what the customers wants. Whether that is relaxed, alert, aggressive, scared, or surprised. The true art of taxidermy comes to play when setting the eyes and forming the musculature around them, knowing the proper anatomy of the muscles around the ear and the anatomy of the ear itself, shaping the nose correctly, the lips, and correctly sculpting the body and the feet. Taxidermy is not just sticking some eyes into the eye socket and gluing the skin to the form. It is much, much more than that. Taxidermy IS art! (my favorite saying )

    Secondly, I believe people deserve to pay a fair price for their mounts and rugs. I set my prices for rugs by the linear foot rather than having 3 or 4 prices based on a ‘size’. My 2015 prices are $255/foot for brown/grizzly bears and $240/foot for black bears, and starting this year - due to customer request and ease of paperwork for me - that includes fleshing and skinning. So, why charge per linear foot? Because it is most fair to the customer, plain and simple. If a taxidermist charges $1900 for a bear rug that is between 6' -8' long, the customer with the 6 foot bear is going to pay $316 per foot, while the guy with the 8’ bear is going to pay $237 per lineal foot. Does that seem fair? I personally don’t think so. As someone who has stretched a lot (over a thousand) of bears over the years, I can tell you how easy it is to make a 5’10” bear into a 6’ long bear or a 7’11” bear into an 8’1” bear. Have you ever seen a loooooong, skinny rug? I have (sportsmans in wasilla)! It is just a matter of stretching the rug for length first. – that is as much as $1000 difference in price vs a business who charges by the linear foot.

    And lastly, customers deserve to get their mounts back in a reasonable amount of time. Currently at Alaska Wildlife Rugs and Taxidermy, the turnaround time on mounts is less than 12 months (currently 8-10 months). I hope to be able to maintain that time frame in the coming years and am currently anticipating decisions I will have to make in order to do so.

    I always welcome anyone to stop by my shop and take a look at the mounts I currently have. You will see different expressions and custom, one-of-a-kind pieces.

    Remember, your trophy is more than a mount. It’s a memory! Relive the memory with a mount done at Alaska Wildlife Rugs and Taxidermy.

    To see photos of my work you can visit my website and look at the gallery page. There are also random photos scattered throughout the site.

    WWW.alaskawildliferugs.com
    Taxidermy IS art!
    www.alaskawildliferugs.com
    Your mount is more than a trophy, it's a memory. Relive The Memory!

  2. #2
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    Julie:

    If I want to use a bear or goat hide as a rug without the head or lower arms attached, should I have a taxidermist do that work, or is that an example of a job that I should send to a tannery? If the latter, are there local tannery shops that do that sort of work?

    Should I expect much of a discount from a taxidermist doing that work compared to having them do a more typical rug that has the head and feet attached?

  3. #3
    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HikerDan View Post
    Julie:

    If I want to use a bear or goat hide as a rug without the head or lower arms attached, should I have a taxidermist do that work, or is that an example of a job that I should send to a tannery? If the latter, are there local tannery shops that do that sort of work?

    Should I expect much of a discount from a taxidermist doing that work compared to having them do a more typical rug that has the head and feet attached?
    Hi Dan,

    Basically, it sounds like you are looking for a flat rug. Stretched and with felt/backing? Or just tanned to throw on the floor?
    Certainly you could take the hide to any taxidermy shop to have tanned. Some tan in house and others send tanning to a commercial tannery. I don't tan in house, but Tim, at Trophy Tanning does (and he does a very nice job, too. I have used his tanning services occasionally).

    A tanned hide, by itself does not lay flat. In order to lay flat it needs to be wet up and stretched on a table. From there backing and felt can be put on (or left off, if desired)

    The price to have a flat rug done is much less than one with the head mounted. I have prices for both types on my website. I believe the difference is about 1/3 less for a flat rug (that includes skinning/fleshing/tanning and felt/backing) than one with a head mount. If no felt and backing is desired, the cost would be even less.

    Hope that answers your questions. I have a black bear and a whitetail deer flat rug at the shop, if you want to take a look at them. I might have photos on the website, too.
    Taxidermy IS art!
    www.alaskawildliferugs.com
    Your mount is more than a trophy, it's a memory. Relive The Memory!

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the info Julie

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    I met Julie earlier today and walked around her shop. She has really nice looking work on display and seems to be a very nice and pleasant person. Hoping to take her some work soon. Stop by her place and take a look for yourself.

  6. #6
    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    Thanks Elkarcher! It was nice to meet you yesterday. Let me know if you have any questions about skinning bears, if the DVD doesn't answer them. I think it is pretty thorough, overall. Good luck this spring on finding a blackie!
    Taxidermy IS art!
    www.alaskawildliferugs.com
    Your mount is more than a trophy, it's a memory. Relive The Memory!

  7. #7
    Member Bambistew's Avatar
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    Good post Juli. I guess I'm not sure if this is a marketing post or a question as the title implies? I haven't seen your work first hand, only pictures, and have heard great things about your work... I would strongly consider you for a rug or small predator in the future.

    My experience with taxidermists has been from the best to the worst. When I search out a taxidermist I keep the following in mind.

    Aside for quality of work, I look for a taxidermist that is running a successful business. These are a rare breed, much more rare than the artist part... The successful ones don't have multiple years worth of back-log or crap piled up in every corner. They get stuff done, are organized, and have been doing it for years. They're taking your money and providing a service... by definition they're running a business, not a free art exhibit. Every taxidermist I've seen that runs a solid business, is also a top notch artist... every one... I've seen many top notch artists that couldn't run a lemonade stand. These ones will leave you high and dry when it comes down to personal money issues they're sure to have.

    Get everything in writing, and keep track of it. You may wish you had it when it comes time to recover items. Odds are if it comes to that, you're hosed anyway. The low life taxidermist has no money, your mount/deposit will be gone, and you're SOL. It generally becomes a civil case, and good luck getting your property back. Try to keep your taxidermist in the state you live, getting the law or a lawyer involved in a different state is a lost cause and very expensive. I've lost a few mounts (taxidermist disappeared), and have also had the cops involved to get items back which were promised by date x and finally returned 18 months later with a police escort. I was lucky to see that rack again.

    I've had work done by 9-10 different taxidermist and have a couple dozen animals mounted... The one running theme they all have in common is that their concept of time is much different than reality. One month means, at a minimum 3.

    Also, some taxidermist are much better at some animals than others. Shop around and find out who the "best" are for particular animals, and don't hold your loyalty just because you've used a certain taxi in the past.

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