In a previous post, we saw a deer butt which Natalie had built several years ago make a reappearance in a current production of A Lie of the Mind. I asked her to share how she constructed it.
She began with research and preparation. Without that, you can easily waste your time building something which is not quite right. She found a taxidermist who agreed to let her come to his shop and show her some techniques. She was able to make a series of detailed drawings to work from; she also scored the back half of a deer hide (as well as the foot pictured above). As you can imagine, with all the deer heads you see mounted in hunting lodges and man caves, there’s bound to be some left over rear parts.
She decided to construct it out of a solid chunk of wood for strength, durability, and realistic weight. With her drawings, she cut the wood into their rough shapes before gluing them up layer by layer.
Once the form had dried together, she began rounding down all the edges to blend it into a seamless piece. She also carved in musculature for added realism; since it would be covered with a hide, she exaggerated the lines so they would still show through the thickness of the material.
With the form completed, she tested it for strength. The legs are fairly skinny, so she added a bit of metal rods in the thinnest areas for reinforcement.
Natalie painted the hoofs and mangled parts because they would not be covered by fur. Again, the research and reference materials showed her exactly what it should look like. She had also spoke with the taxidermist about what colors would be showing on the exposed innards.
She began attaching the hide to the form using Barge. The hide came split down the bottom center so it was a flat piece. That meant it had a seam along the bottom and down each leg, which she had to treat carefully to keep it from becoming too prominent or noticeable.
With enough practice, you too can produce props as deer as this!