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Columnists : Taxidermy - Larry Reese
Last Updated: Aug 6, 2010 - 1:11:39 PM
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European Skull Mounts - Do it yourself
By Larry Reese
Aug 20, 2007 - 12:47:52 AM

Taxidermist Larry Reese

European Skull Mounts

I have received a lot of email asking about the procedures on how to do a European Skull mount, so  following are the steps I do in my studio.

As the names says , this style was , and is , very popular in Europe, although the methods have changed drastically. In the good ole days the hide was removed and then left outside to rot and self -bleach. Today there are many ways and methods to do this and I will go over a few of them. First let me say if you have a record book skull like a Bear, Mt. Lion, etc. the best way is to let a taxidermist send it out to a place that cleans the skulls with dermestid beetles . This is the safest way and you will have no shrinkage or damage. This is the same method that most museum s use on delicate skulls, bones, etc.

    1) First get the hide off the head and cut away all the meat, membrane , etc. that you can.

    2) Get a pot large enough to submerge the skull in, or the biggest one you can get your hands on. Don't take your wife/girlfriend 's best cooking pot , this will only cause you more aggravation than you are about to undertake. You will also need to do this outside because it does cause a n odor. You will also need some type of fire like a propane burner.

    3) Fill the pot up with water and add Dawn dish detergent (this is a good grease cutter) . I also have a taxidermy product in my shop called Sal Soda (which  is Sodium Bicarbonate which can also be bought in a grocery store "Arm N Hammer" laundry detergent) that I use with the Dawn .
 Bring the water to a boil with the skull submerged .  If there are antlers attached to the skull you want to keep them out of the water if possible because they will turn a light color. If they do it is no real big deal , they can be touched up with a little wood stain. You can also try and wrap the antler bases with aluminum foil.

    4) Every 15 minutes or so take the skull out .  BE CAREFUL .  It will be hot and there will be hot water trapped inside.
    Now take a semi dull knife and start scraping everything off the skull. This is very time consuming work but is very important. When you have got off everything that wants to come off stick it back into the pot and repeat this process until the skull is CLEAN and I mean clean If you leave anything it will draw bugs , have an odor and you know what the little lady will say about what you can do with your skull.

    5) The best way to clean out the brain is every time you take the skull out of the pot to pack as much borax into the brain cavity as you can and let the borax soak up all the moisture.  Then take a screwdriver and scoop out all the dried up borax. You need to make sure this area is spotless as it is often overlooked.

    6) If you lose any teeth in the process , let the water cool and pour it out through a screen an d then Super Glue put a small amount of super glue on the inside of the teeth just to make sure they are stable. them back in. Once I am done cleaning I usually

    7) What I do next is just a precaution step in case I missed something I could not reach or see. I pack Borax (get this at the local grocery store " 20 Mule Team Borax") in every place I can and rub it all over the skull and let it sit overnight, then shake it out and rinse under cool water the next day.

    8) The next step is a chemical process and most chemicals are not going to be available to the public. I mix magnesium carbonate and volume 40 peroxide (the peroxide you can get in the store is 3% and NOT strong enough), then paint it onto a skull and let sit overnight. Once dry , I rinse it off with cool water .  If needed I repeat this step. I have never done it more than twice .  This stuff really is pretty strong.
        a) Since these chemicals are for commercial use they are not going to be available without a license.

     Due to a lot of request s, I have put together a European Mount Kit that has all the chemicals with instructions that will do two or more deer type skulls.   If you would like to order this kit go to my FOR SALE page for current price and fill out the Order Form on a secured sever.ped right out to you by priority mail. Included in the kit is 4oz Magnesium Carbonate, 2oz 40% peroxide, latex gloves, mixing cup, stirring stick, and instructions .  The price includes shipping to the lower 48 states.
    9) The next thing I like to do is seal the skull .  I do this by spraying on a gloss or satin coat of clear acrylic. I use the  Krylon brand and it can be found in most any paint store.
I will get it ship

    10) The final step , if desired , is to attach it on a plaque. I usually sit the skull on a belt sander so I have a flat surface sitting on the plaque and then run two drywall screw s from the back of the plaque into the skull. Here is a  great plaque company that will have everything you need. Walnut Creek  (ask for Nicole and tell her I sent you).

Good luck on your European Skull mount .  If you have any questions Email me


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