Some taxidermists use artificial heads and attach them to natural skin to prevent damage and shrinkage. Saltwater fish are almost always recreated using completely man-made materials. A mold is made of the fresh catch and then cast into fiberglass reinforced polyester resin. Most of the tissue, muscle, and fat is removed.
All that remains is the fur and hair, which are dried for about a year to remove any moisture that could cause them to decay. Once the deceased animal has been skinned, the skin goes through several processes to preserve it properly and last a lifetime. Alternatively, acetone is used to clean the bones if they are to be part of the final frame. Endangered animals, such as rhinoceroses, are highly protected and some animals, such as fish, are difficult to preserve, so taxidermists make these frames with materials such as fiberglass and plastic resin.
One of the most prominent taxidermists, and Mrs. Sutton's inspiration, was Walter Potter, who was one of the first people to dress costumes for preserved animals. Because body parts, such as skin, are preserved when an animal is dissected, future scientists can get all kinds of useful information from stuffed animals, such as size, color, and texture. According to Milgrom, in these categories, taxidermists try to create an animal without using any of its real parts, make an eagle out of turkey feathers, for example, or create a realistic panda with bear skin or even recreate extinct species based on scientific data.
Taxidermist Amanda Sutton does not use animals that were killed for taxidermy, instead uses food for reptiles, road death and animals that died naturally and creates taxidermy to preserve the animal's beauty (a bath mouse from Mrs. Sutton's Amanda's Autopsies collection shown). First place was awarded to A Fight in the Tree-Tops, by taxidermist William Temple Hornaday, which showed two male Bornean orangutans fighting over a female. In the 1970s, so-called animal stuffing stopped and taxidermists began stretching the animal's skin over sculpted molds, or mannequins, typically made of foam.
Study skins also take up less space than an entire stuffed animal, which means that museums can store more specimens in their collections. Indian exhibits included a stuffed elephant (although that animal was actually an African elephant found in a nearby museum). Sutton's inspiration, was Walter Potter, who was one of the first people to wear costumes to preserved animals (similar to the creature in the photo). In those days, competition was fierce, so conservation methods differed from taxidermist to taxidermist and were heavily guarded, some even going to the grave without revealing their secrets.
In the 1970s, so-called animal stuffing stopped and taxidermists began stretching the animal's skin over sculpted molds, or mannequins, typically made of foam.