Aves Galliformes Phasianidae
This particular specimen died by drowning in a water tank. This is a fully adult male with an exceptionally good quality of plumage. In fact, the only thing that required replacement was his crest which is made of tail covert goose feathers. This practice of breeding white peacocks has an extremely long history, despite the fact that the breeders may not have had an understanding of the process, they were able to get results. White peacocks have long represented purity, as well as divine or royal authority. In order to accentuate these elements, I chose to gild the beak legs and talons with 23.5 k gold. For this piece I have decided to include a bit of information on the process he went through for restoration.
The following is a rough list of 40 things that had to happen when working on the white peacock. You can start to see how much actually goes into one of these restorations. Of course this is much like a table of contents to an entire book, nothing in taxidermy is quick, one mount will require days or even weeks of dedication and oftentimes will not let you rest until it is done as you fight drying, precise chemical timing, and bacterial growth. All these elements must be in harmony for even the skin to be usable in the first place. It’s like buying cotton off the stick and turning it into a canvas yourself. Even once the skin is ready there is still the issue of sculpting everything else. Keep in mind too, that working on a pure white animal means that the cleaning process must be absolutely perfect. Gloves need to be worn during all final prep work to keep hand oil from discoloring the feathers. All previous preening oil used by the bird to clean its feathers must be dissolved completely. An animal like the white peacock could take as long as a month to get done correctly with all things done by hand. Other smallish things can be done in a frightfully fast pace, an ermine can take as little as a day due to different preservation methods and the fact that its body basically looks like a hotdog with legs.
1. skin body ventrally from sternum to vent.
2. dislocate tibia from femur and humerus from scapular apparatus.
3. skin and prep wings, legs, head and neck
4. thin or “flesh” the skin. removing all traces of fat, brain, and membranous tissue.
5. soak in degreasing agent
6. rinse until water is clear
7. wash in dish soap
8. rinse until water is clear
9. submerge in one step tanning solution overnight
10. remove from solution and wash in dish soap
11. rinse until water is clear
12. drain for 1 hour
13. towel dry
14. begin fluffing and drying feathers with diatomaceous earth.
15. hair dry feathers on cool setting
16. once no diatomaceous earth sticks to the bird he is ready.
17. prep all form parts. Including rods ¼ in. threaded steal for the legs, wires, foam body, painted eyes, clay molding around the eyes to match skin,
18. pedestal prep, and all the crap in between.
19. insert leg rods through feet up through knee, wrap in twine, then with cloth.
20. same for wings, wire through hand to shoulder.
21. insert anchor wire for tail
22. insert and epoxy neck into skull (foam and copper)
23. make final preps to foam form drilling place holes and carving out area for neck to match size.
24. sculpt in eye details and other fragile stuff.
25. insert wings
26. insert leg 1
27. insert tail anchor
28. insert leg 2 (weight bearing) epoxy rod into place.
29. check for skin placement, fill in fatty deposit areas with cotton
30. sew up the birdie!
31. bolt in foot support hardware
32. measure all the crap needed for neat placement onto temporary pedestal.
33. place birdie onto pedestal.
34. while balancing the 7 ft bird with your shoulder screw in pedestal anchors. 47
35. hair dry again and again and again for about 1 hour
36. position bird.
37. continue checking every 3-8 hours and repeat 35, and 36. for several days.
38. once skin is completely dry, painting around the eyes, and gilding beak, and feet happens.
39. Prepare final corona
40. Finishing work and a lot of feather preening.