Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Making a European Skull Mount

The European skull mount has been around for many years. In the past, the hides were removed and the skull was left outside to rot and be bleached by the sun. There are a few newer methods out there, including one that uses dermestid beetles. The method below is quite popular and fairly easy to do.
First skin the hide off the skull. Once this is done, remove all the meat and tissue from the skull by boiling the skull. Pick a pot that will allow the skull to be completely submerged. Remove as much of the meat and tissue off before you put it into the boiling water. This will help to hurry the process of cleaning the skull. Be careful not to let the antlers get under the water when boiling, which will cause the antler bases to fade in color. Once the water is boiling, add 1/2 cup of sodium carbonate (washing soda). This helps release the meat and turn it into a jelly which can be scraped off the skull fairly easy. It also helps to bleach or whiten the skull. This will take some time and may require putting the skull back into the boiling mixer more than once. Clean as much off as you can. When it gets difficult to remove the tissue it’s time to place it back into the boiling mixture. Repeat as often as necessary. Don’t forget to remove the brain matter from the little hole in the rear of the skull (the place where the neck attached to the skull). It’s very important to remove all the meat and tissue from the skull. If you don’t do this, insects will get into the skull and may damage the skull.
Once all the skull is clean it’s time to soak it in hydrogen peroxide. Try to find 12% hydrogen peroxide. Don’t confuse this will the 3% that you find at most stores, it will not work very well. The 12% hydrogen peroxide can be found at high end hair solons or you can order it from any taxidermy supply company. Leave the skull in the hydrogen peroxide for two to three days. Make sure to move the skull around once or twice a day. Another more natural way is leave the skull set out in full sun. This will bleach the skull out in a couple weeks. This will also bleach out the antlers themselves. If you don’t want to bleach the antlers out cover them each individually with a black trash bag. Put tape tightly around the bases to keep the bag on. Whatever is covered will keep its natural color. When the skull is as white as you want it, it’s done.
The last thing you can do to your skull is to seal it. This is not necessary but it will make your skull last that much longer. I have a couple skulls that I never sealed that are still in perfect condition 10 years later. I have several that are sealed and they are great also. Its your choice. You can find sealer it at any hardware store or any store that sells paint. A clear spray sealant is what you need.
Once you have decided whether or not you want to seal your skull you will need to decide if you want to mount it to a plaque or if its time to glue the jaw to the skull. If it’s a bobcat or bear skull (any skull that you would want to keep the bottom jaw attached) you may want to epoxy the bottom jaw onto the skull. If it’s a whitetail skull you will not want to keep the bottom jaw attached.
There are other methods of making a European skull mount. This is a method that I have used for years and have had great results with. Once complete, these European mounts look like a work of art.

No comments: