I’ve still got lots to work on (I need to go through and update my todo list before I make it public again!). Some stuff I’m putting off because I know it’ll be a lot of work, and I’m worried about the results; using neats foot oil to try and improve the stiff and crinkled home tan of my fallow deer rug and Bubba the boa constrictors skin.
I have a fair few skins, some salted, some prepped and salted, some still frozen, that are awaiting tanning. Tanning stresses me out. I get such variable results from one skin to the next that I have no idea how it’ll turn out in the end (though most of my home tans using Snowdonias white tan mix have come out with a less than perfect tan). Hand stretching and breaking the hide is a lot of work, and I mentally dedicate a whole day (if not two or more for large hides) to it. I keep meaning to find/fashion a rounded wood beam on which I can break hides more easily, and get a better leather finish. But again, putting it off! I’m even putting off mixing up the alum tan that I’ve been meaning to try as a supposedly easier alternative to the Snowdonia tan.
A teal and a jackdaw, both already skinned, awaiting mounting. Jemima the mallard ducks head, also awaiting mounting.
I have all the materials. I have some experience, from which I have learnt and already improved. But I also need to muster up the gumption to do the things I have mentally made hard and scary.
I started writing this intending for it a be an apology for not posting much on new projects. Things have been weird… But now this is morphing into a “you can do it!” post
Because you can.
To all those “new” people who don’t think they can pick up that dead animal. To that person who has the materials to mount but doesn’t want to do the animal a disservice. To those who want to clean whole animals to bones, but are worried that they’ll be too clumsy, break something, loose everything.
And to those feeling in a rut, of whichever shape or size.
Half the fight is getting the materials, the environment around you in the right shape - understanding roomies, a space in the garden, ordering mounting kits and peroxide through the post.
Medication or meditation, a safe place
The other half is with yourself. If you’ve already worried and fussed over something, focused on the bad, what could go wrong, chances are you’ve made it into something bigger than it is. That you’re focusing on the negatives alone. And those worries have become big enough and loud enough to hold you back, to stop you from moving forwards.
So try taking a breath. Taking a step back. If a friend came to you with this scenario, with these worries, what would you say to them? Think about the positives - you preserve that animals wonderous fur, that amazing skull. Yes, things might go wrong, but that doesn’t mean it will always go wrong. Yes, it might not be perfect, but perfection is not the be all and end all. Everyone progresses, no-one is perfect immediately.
Doing your best is enough.
Because when you do your best, and look back and learn from what you did, when you next do your best, you’ll do better. And you’ll keep moving forward at your own pace. And that’s all you can do, for you or anyone else.
Do your best.