Re-conditioning Horns

Discussion in 'Taxidermy' started by buck wild, May 2, 2019.

  1. buck wild

    buck wild SILVER SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Here is how I get a little life back into those boiled, dry out horns that come back to us. These are my personal sable and roan horns rec'd recently. I took careful measurements before leaving and needed to rebuild approx 1/2 " of horn to each.

    First I make a silicone mold of the bottom 3/4" of each horn. I can provide more info on this later if someone is interested.

    horn 4.jpg


    I next taken softened beeswax and apply a liberal coating over the entire horn. This will fill the cracks and provide a natural sheen.

    horn 2.jpg

    I use a low heat source (hair dryer, paint stripper on LOW) to soften the now hardened wax into the horn and buff out the wax. Here is half the horn completed for this part of the process.


    horn 3.jpg

    One finished out compared to one that hasn't been started.

    horn 3.5.jpg



    Often waterbuck and in this case roan have "peeling" parts of the horn. I use more wax to build it back up.
    The raw horn next to the repaired one.

    horn 8.jpg

    After rubbing and buffing the wax into both horns, I use a small paddle bit to drill out the horn cores and fill with Borax. I'm always concerned about future bug damage and although I can't say this will do anything, I figure it cant hurt.

    horn .5.jpg

    Next I apply a liberal amount of bondo over the cores and slide the horn over slowly to pushing down any extra bondo equally out the bottom. After the horn seats on the core, I dip my finger in dentured alcohol and pat down the extra bondo flat against the horn so that I can apply the silicone mold made earlier before the bondo hardens. Using the DA will keep the bondo from sticking to my finger and making a mess.

    horn 5.jpg

    horn 6.jpg

    After the bondo sets, remove the silicone mold, trim off the excess and rasps any areas of the bondo if needed. It doesn't always make the perfect impression of the horn and I usually follow up with some touch up areas with Apoxie Clay.

    horn 7.jpg

    I now have my 1/2" built back in and begin using different paints, stains, and powders to build the color make into the horn.


    horn 10.jpg




    horn 11.jpg


    horn 12.jpg
     
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  2. buck wild

    buck wild SILVER SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    In total, not counting the molds that were made another day earlier, it took approximately 3 hrs to do both sets. The coloring phase didn't get covered here much because it's hard to detail but it's basically using different paints and pastel powders to get that finished color. This usually entails lightning the horns as they come back darken then normal . Mine weren't too bad as I left explicit instructions to leave them as natural as possible.
     
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  3. Tally-Ho Hunting Safaris

    Tally-Ho Hunting Safaris SPONSOR Since 2015 AH Fanatic

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    When can i send some horns to you???
    Looks great
     

  4. blacks

    blacks AH Enthusiast

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    Great job and thanks for the post. I've heard about the silicone mould for texture before and would like to learn more about the technique .

    I'm curious if these are for Euro display or for mounts? As for mounts I usually find it easier to mount the animal first with just the cores to work around, and then affix the horns later. Then blend and colour as required .

    Cheers
    Tim
     

  5. Ragman

    Ragman AH Elite

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    Very interesting. Thanks!
     

  6. buck wild

    buck wild SILVER SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    These will be shoulder mounts. Horned animals have the skin grow right into the horn- thus the usual soft area between the two. I always want my horns secured to the core before mounting so that I can butt the edge of the cape right up to the horn and securely glue it in place also allowing for hair pattern placement. I have heard of folks putting on horns after mounting but I never understood how they established the critical skin to horn junction that way, but again I have never tried it. I did once make a detachable horn but it detached at the area you saw my bondo rebuild thus when mounting I still had the solid foundation of the bottom of the horn to work around. I also thinks this creates a seal around the horn and core that should help deter bugs from getting up inside. The horns will be wrapped in plastic before mounting to ensure the new texture and color is not messed up in the process.
    Thanks for asking.
     
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  7. blacks

    blacks AH Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the detailed reply. Your horns look very natural.

    I've always mounted, then attached horns to cores, filled any gap with apoxy clay, textured and coloured. But I do far more antlered game than horned.

    Funny how we all have our different ways. I'm only self taught, so maybe I need to give that a go.

    Is it any particular silicone, or just the stuff in a caulking tube?

    Cheers
    Tim.
     

  8. Witold Krzyżanowski

    Witold Krzyżanowski AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Looks great. Thanks for sharing.
     

  9. buck wild

    buck wild SILVER SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    For small projects like this, yes 100% silicone caulk from the tube will work. Get a bowl of water, squeeze the caulk into the bowl. It will begin to stick to itself in a ball. Then use a 50/50 mixture of Dawn soap and denatured alcohol to wet your fingers, reach into the bowl and pull out the ball of silicone. Keep wetting your hands with the soap mixture and you'll see the caulk will be almost putty like. Push it into the areas you want to make a mold. Use some type of release agent on the horns but stay away from oily releases as they will considerably darken the horns. Baby powder will work or a silicone powder. Keep working the caulk, reapplying the mix to your fingers. Let air dry fro 24 hours and remove the mold.
    Let me know how it works for you
     
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  10. blacks

    blacks AH Enthusiast

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    Outstanding, thank you so much for the advice. I have a tahr head to rebuild so I'll give your technique a go !
     

  11. enysse

    enysse AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Great work, it looks outstanding!
     

  12. wesheltonj

    wesheltonj AH Elite

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    Nice. I have used Sno Seal on lots of white-tail horns.
     

  13. cmk

    cmk AH Veteran

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    Very nice! I really prefer this to the blackened (shoe polish?) horns.
     
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