Sundog, Lake Marie Oregon 2018

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Art Work In Process Post 9 (last One)

This will be a long post, and only about the animal heads.

During the last two weeks  I have been working on what I have come to think of as "The Canadian Six."

 Much of the work is a repeat of what I have already shown you, so I just snapped pictures of what was different.

First off several people have asked me "Why dos your Exacto knife have a long red tail?"
The answer is because I go tired of loosing it among the fur and scraps on the work benches.  I can usually spot the red,  and save myself a great deal of looking-for-it time.

Moose Ears:

I use the same fur on the inside and the outside of the moose ears.  To create an "inner ear" I shave the fur with a WAHL clipper.

I also use it to shape parts of the faces and muzzles.

Impala horns:

I use rope to create the ridges on the impala's horns.  I do a layer of plaster cloth, then a layer of Hydrocal and finally black paint and sealer.

The Impala's nose is a little different too.

The white fur is his lower jaw.  The black is a piece of fabric that  I put as the inside of the mouth.  You usually can see it in the end.

I hot glue a "V" of wash-line to define the nose.  This is  covered with black fabric.

Next, I glue the fur to the bridge of the nose and forehead.  The edges of the fur are folded and shaved before being attached.

The upper lip is a bit of a challenge.  I have to fold and shave both sides of the split lip and get it in the center.  The top "rusty colored" part of the muzzle is cut and glued at the same time.  This is easier when the muzzle is all one color!

Getting this step done can sometimes take a couple of hours. I often have to remake the upper lips several times before I am satisfied.

The final step on many of the animals is to give the fur a little extra color or shading.  Large color markings are done with different furs, But here I am adding some sienna overtones to the Impala's forehead by carefully dry brushing acrylic paint onto it.  I also do some black markings around the eyes.  Sometimes if feels like being a makeup artist.

I did learn to use an air brush at one point, but find I have a little more control with a stiff brush and don't need a separate work area. So I sold the air brush at the last flea market!

Not every animal I make is to my liking on the first go.

As I looked at the Cheetah hanging on the studio wall I decided I did not like the way his muzzle and cheeks looked.

The solution was to rip them off and re do them.

The final step for the Cheetah is to give him some whiskers:

I use fish line for the whiskers and just Super Glue them in place.

The last stop before being boxed up and shipped is to get their pictures taken for the Web Site pictures.

We do not sleep in our Master Bedroom.  We keep a studio light set up, camera and computer there.

 It would be a hassle to put it together every time I do a new version of an animal or a new design.

Craig does the photography.  He shoots each animal from several different heights and angles.  Then I get to choose which one goes on the website.

He does all the website maintenance for me.

So, there you have it.  They have been boxed and taken off to FedEx.  Their pictures have been put on the website and my customer has been told they are on the way.

I will have a nagging worry for the next five or six days wondering if they will be lost, or damaged.

Hope he likes them!

What's next?  Last week I got an order for one of my favorite creatures.

 The Giraffe.  Better get back to work.


  1. Such a lot of work. They are true pieces of art. Are you the only person in the world that does this? It's fascinating. :)

  2. You are a true Artisan Merikay. I cannot even begin to understand the patience it must take to meticulously create those works of art that you do. You are to be commended:))

  3. I wondered the same thing..I've never seen these before, but I'm sure other people make them? How did you ever learn to do it?

  4. I hope the person receiving these sends you some pics of them hanging on their wall..I still think you should try ebay..right up there with the big boy taxidermists!

  5. These lessons have been fascinating. The amount of work and talent involved is incredible.

  6. Awesome! They are lovely. Thanks so much for sharing the steps. I'd like an apricot poodle head for my wall - that would be sure to freak visitors out!

  7. Love it! You've got a gift, Merikay! Now let's see a pink and blue cheetah! :) Thanks for letting us peek into your creative process.


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