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A taxidermist is a man or woman who stuffs and mounts deceased animals to be displayed in homes, museums, or other settings. He or she carefully removes and tans the hide of an animal, makes a plaster mold of the carcass, uses clay or foam to create a lifelike cast from the mold, and attaches the hide to the artificial figure. Most amateur taxidermists acquire skills by practice, video instruction, and seminars, while professionals who operate their own businesses often complete accredited taxidermy school programs to master the trade.
A taxidermist might use a number of different tools, supplies, and techniques to perform a mounting job. He or she uses a scalpel and precision scissors to remove an animal's hide, feathers, or scales. Several types of chemicals and salts are employed to preserve and soften a hide, which is left to dry in a kiln or open air. A professional usually shapes the remaining carcass by hand to achieve a lifelike representation, then uses plaster to make a mold of the animal. He or she then uses the mold to form a sculpture, known as a mannequin, out of polyurethane foam or a special type of clay.
Mannequins often fail to come out of the mold in perfect, finished form. A taxidermist must use his or her artistic talent and various sculpting tools to represent details in the mannequin, such as eyelids, muscle bulges, and paws. He or she then uses needles, thread, and staples to carefully attach the hide to the mannequin. The professional then paints, shapes, and inserts artificial eyes, teeth, and claws to a finished piece, and secures the animal to a plaque or mount.
There are no strict educational requirements to become a taxidermist, though most individuals have at least a high school diploma and experience with sculpting or other art forms. Many individuals, especially those who perform taxidermy as a hobby, do not receive formal training. Instead, they learn the trade by watching instructional videotapes and books, attending local or regional taxidermy seminars, and engaging in rigorous practice.
Professional taxidermists generally seek certification by completing a program at a taxidermy school, which may take anywhere from two weeks to several months. Students receive classroom instruction about the history of the trade, current trends in procedures and equipment, and strategies for opening their own businesses. New professionals often work as apprentices or assistants in an experienced taxidermist's shop for a certain period of time to become more familiar with tools and techniques and begin building a steady client base.
what is the name of the taxidermy process, when you want to have an animal preserved?