WELLSBORO - The Green Home went wild about animals during it's "Wild Life" week April 5 through 9.
On April 5, taxidermist professional Dana Wetherbee of Stonyfork visited The Green Home to discuss the process of taxidermy, illustrated with his own taxidermy work and supplies.
Residents were eager to hear about the largest and smallest animals Wetherbee has worked on - moose, bear, and boars topped the scale, while birds and weasels were the smallest.
"The smaller the animal, the more intricate the work," noted Wetherbee.
Theresa Carlson, one of the residents at The Green Home, remarked that taxidermy is a lot like pottery or ceramics in this sense - the smaller the object, the more difficult and detailed the work becomes.
Wetherbee talked residents through his process of cleaning the animal, pre-tanning through pickle baths of formic acid, tanning the hide and reconfiguring the animal into a pose using mannequins.
Unlike many taxidermists, he does his own tanning.
After explaining the importance of properly cleaning off blood to avoid staining, he emphasized the importance of maintaining stretch in the animal hide.
"If someone brings a 500-pound bear into my shop, he or she doesn't want a 300-pound bear back," joked Wetherbee.
Passing around examples of glass eyes, he described the different expressions he seeks to convey in the mounted animal, noting that the eyes are a large part of the overall expression.
"You can convey a lot with the eyes, and the angle has to be just right," he says. "If you use more rounded eyes, you can channel a surprised expression. If you give it half-lidded eyes, you portray a sleepy animal."
Deer are his most common request and are termed the "bread and butter" of many taxidermists because the time and money ratio put into creating each piece balances against the frequency of requests.
Fish are another common request for Wetherbee, who uses heated Plexiglas to create currents and ripples for a water effect. Once the plastic is heated properly, he can then pull using tweezers to create life-like splashes.
Summertime humidity, however, complicates the process and can leave the final color appearing musty or hazy if not counteracted with special additives to the paint.
The residents also attended a demonstration about archery by Floyd and Linda McCaslin on April 7 and a hunting and fishing lecture by Rennie Woodhouse, Josh Simmons and Alex Hall, maintenance employees, at The Green Home, on April 9.
For more information on The Green Home, call 724-3131.