Archive for the ‘Taxidermy’ category


April 15, 2010

Dorie Petrochko and the yellow warbler

Dorie Petrochko is raising the bar with painting the bird carving casts.  Yesterday she added just a bit more color to the wings so that a slight bit of yellow shows on each folded primary feather.  It looked like she was using a “00” brush.  Later, she felt finished enough with the painting to start glueing a few feathers on.  I told her that this model is so well painted that only a very few feathers would be needed to enhance what is already there.  We have been debating whether the duller birds come across better in the models.  I am wondering if the bird’s plumage is lighter and with less contrasts, it inherently looks softer.  This hypothesis will be tested because Dorie plans to paint a male Canada warbler next which is anything but dull or without contrasts!!

a skin and the painted model

By the way, Dorie is starting a natural science/scientific art school with two other scientific illustrators this fall.  This is very exciting to see this starting in New Haven.  Here is what she wrote me about it:

The CT School of Natural Science Illustration at Yale-Peabody West Campus will be launched this September. The classes will be held at the new Community Education Center at West Campus.  The schedule will be listed on the Peabody Museum website under West Campus Programs/ Education.  It will also be listed in the Peabody Explorer for next fall.  In September we will be offering classes in Fundamentals of Natural Science Illustration, Botanical Illustration in Watercolor, Drawing Butterflies in Colored Pencil, Drawing from Museum Specimens, Field Sketching and Natural Science Illustration in Pen and Ink.


Point Pelee Reptiles

January 20, 2010

This 17" hognose snake cast was produced by Dave Parsons, Peabody Museum preparator from 1952-1985. The detail and painting is exquisite and I hope to include it in the diorama.

Greg Watkins-Colwell, Peabody Museum’s herpetology guy, stopped by last week and talked with me about what species of reptiles might be included in the diorama.  He wrote the following e-mail listing finished models I already have in my cabinet.

Ontario has the following herps that could be used in the exhibit:

Hognose snake
Northern watersnake (same morph as ours… they also have redbelly watersnake which is a different species).

Spotted turtle (Point Pelee is known for that in fact)
Wood turtle
Snapping turtle.

They do NOT have box turtles!

Taxidermy Started

December 4, 2009

I have started skinning birds for possible use in the diorama.  I went through my freezer and found 10 warblers from 1994 to 2002.  Even though my freezer is an old frost-free type (much preferable to the new self-defrosting ones), these birds will all have some form of freezer burn.  The skin dries out, usually on the head or neck areas and makes skinning much more difficult.  I started with a yellow warbler with a bad case of freezer burn.  I tried  to rehydrate it with a hypodermic needle, but still by the end, I had several “bullet holes” in the skin where it had ripped during skinning.  I was asked to minimize the bloody work while I work in the exhibit hall, so I will do this in my lab and l wire the birds together while I work in public.  My plan is to skin all 10 birds, mount them all, and choose the best ones for the diorama.   By the way, I am not a collector, ie. a hunter.  All birds I get are either picked up as roadkills, cat kills or window kills.  I have a permit through the museum and from the state to salvage dead birds.