Our replicas are formed from molds that have been cast from real fish. Most fish are released and the memory is kept alive with a replica. But, you probably already know this....But take some measurements and good photos and your fish can come alive again!
We have thousands and thousands of molds of hundreds of different fish. Many poses and several different options for many of these fish are available. The process begins when gel coat, resin and hand laid fiberglass are skillfully assembled into the molds. The magic happens when the fish blank is removed from the mold and carefully trimmed to remove the excess fiberglass. The sanding begins and the seam is smoothed over and reconstructed. The fins are installed, the gills are shaped and the mouth is detailed. The glass eyes are painted and meticulously installed. Various epoxies and fiberglass fillers are used during all these processes. Many companies have outsourced the fabrication of their fish blanks overseas. Not us, your mount is made here in the USA by craftsman who fish, hunt, dive, work and play in the ocean. We have been doing this for a long time and it is reflected in the quality of our work.
The painting process begins with a surface primer that helps to preserve the detail cast into the mold. Then, systematically we use steel wool and fine sandpaper to get the blank ready for the primer and paint that follows. Most often we "antique" the blanks to start. This deposits dark paint into the many nooks and crannies to give a great depth of detail. Then we start the painting process with a bright silver, gold or white base coat. This seals the fish, and gives a good even base to start from. We then apply highlight colors to various areas of the blank that will eventually increase the perceived depth of color. We use a myriad of products to get the color onto the blank. These include metallic powders, oils, watercolors, acrylics, lacquers, colored pencils, marker pens, makeup, charcoal, paint sticks, pastel powders, just to name a few. These transparent, opaque and metallic paints blend together to create the lifelike coloration that will eventually bring the fish to life. The painting schedule is usually complex, but sometime is isn't and can take several hours or just a few dozen minutes to complete. Lastly, we use iridescent metallic (powders, paints and rub-on waxes) to add the lifelike shimmer present on all fresh caught fish. This is one of our signature touches. All our fish replicas are finished to look like they just came from the water.
We finish the paint job with two part automotive urethane clear coat. This is the same material that is used as a finish on your car. Several coats, buffing and polishing add to the depth and translucence of the finished product. The clear coat dries to a hard UV resistant finish that will seal and protect the paint and last for many years.
Lastly, the fish is carefully packed to survive the rigors of shipping. Years of experience and a great deal of skill is involved in packing a big fish into a wooden crate that must survive the trip to your house, or office or to a destination that is halfway around the world. Usually, the crating process for the bigger pieces takes several hours to complete and involves plywood, dimensional lumber, foam, bubble wrap and patience. Packing the smaller fish takes less time, but they still need to be securely packaged to make the trip. Don't hate us when you unpack the fish. It took us awhile to put your fish into the box! Knowing how to pack your fish is the key to the fish arriving in one piece and we do all the packing right here in the birthplace of your fish mount.
Hope this gives you the information you need to make an informed decision about choosing someone to make your memory come to life.
Owner, Operator, Marine Artist