Another method of forming the supporting wires, as practiced by M. Nichols, is to take a central wire, which must be the length of the head, neck, body and tail of the cat ; two other pieces are then taken and twisted round the center piece, these extremities being left for the leg wires. After the wires are thus twisted together the central one is pulled out, and the feet wires of one side are pushed through the legs of one side from the inside of the skin, and the other two leg pieces are bent and also forced through the legs, and afterward made straight by a pair of pincers; the center piece, having been previously sharpened at one end with a file, is now forced through the forehead and down the neck, till it enters the center of the twisted leg wires which it formerly occupied, and pushed forward to the extremity of the tail, leaving a small piece projecting out of the forehead, after which the completion of the stuffing is proceeded with.
This mode is unnecessary for the smaller animals, and it should only be adopted for quadrupeds the size of deer, etc. These wires are, besides, much more difficult to insert by this than by the other method.
All the wires being adjusted, the operation of stuffing is next proceeded with. The skin of the cat is now extended on a table ; and the end of the noose seized with the left hand, and again pushed into the skin, till it reaches the neck, when we receive the bones of the head into the right hand. The skull is now well rubbed over with the arsenical soap, and all the cavities which the muscles before occupied are filled with chopped tow, flax, or cotton, well mixed with preserving powder. The long piece of wire is now passed into the middle of the skull, and after it is well rubbed over with the preservative, it is returned into the skin. The inner surface of the neck-skin is now anointed, and stuffed with chopped flax, taking care not to distend it too much. Nothing like pressure should be applied, as the fresh skin is susceptible of much expansion.
Observe that it is always the inner surface which is anointed with the arsenical soap. Take care that the first ring of the wire, which passes into the head is in the direction of the shoulders, and the second corresponding with the pelvis, or somewhat toward the posterior part. One of the fore-leg wires is then inserted along the back of the bone, and the point passed out under the highest ball of the paw. When this is accomplished the bones of the leg are drawn up within the skin of the body, and the wire fastened to the bones of the arm and fore-arm with strong thread or small twine. Brass wire, used for piano forte strings, makes it more secure, and is not liable to rot. These are well anointed, and flux or tow slivers wrapped around them so as to supply the place of the muscles which have been removed. To give the natural rise to the larger muscles, a piece of silver should be cut off the length of the protuberance required and placed in the part, and the silver wrapped over it. This gives it a very natural appearance.
The mode of fixing the legs is by passing one of their pieces of wire into the small ring of the horizontal or middle supporting wire. Pursue the same plan with the other leg, and then twist the two ends firmly together by the aid of a pair of fiat pincers. For an animal of the size of a cat, the pieces left for twisting must be from five to six inches in length. After being twisted, they are bound on the under side of the body wire with strong thread; the two legs are then replaced and put in the form in which we intend to fix them. The skin of the belly and top of the shoulders is then anointed, and a thick layer of flax placed under the middle wire. The shape is now given to the scapulae on both sides, and all the muscles of the shoulders imitated. These will be elevated or depressed, according to the action intended to be expressed. The anterior part of the opening is now sewed up, to retain the stuffing, and to enable us to complete the formation of the shoulders and junction of the neck. This part of the animal is of great importance, as regards the perfection of its form, and much of its beauty will depend upon this being well executed.
If the animal has been recently skinned, the best plan possible is to imitate, as nearly as possible, the muscles of the carcase, by which many parts will be noticed which might otherwise have been neglected. As a rule, copy nature Whenever You Have It In Your Power.
It must be observed as a general rule, that the wires for the hind legs of quadrupeds should always be longer than those of the fore legs.
The next thing is to form the hind legs and thighs, which must be done as above described for the fore legs; but with this difference, that they must be wound round with thread, drawn through the stuffing at intervals, to prevent it slipping up when returned into the skin of the leg. They are then fixed by passing the leg wires into a second ring of the center body wire, which is situated at or near the pelvis; the two ends are then bent, twisting them to the right and left around the ring; and, to make them still more secure, they should be wound round with small brass wire or packthread; the tail-bearer is then attached in the manner formerly described.
Having completed this part of the iron work, the skin of the thighs is coated inside with the preservative, and the stuffing completed with chopped flax or tow. The whole inner parts of the skin which can be reached are again anointed, and the body stuffing completed with chopped flax. Care must be also paid not to stuff the belly too much, as the skin very easily dilates. The incision in the belly is now closed by bringing the skin together, and then sewed within and without, while attention is paid to divide the hairs, and not to take any of them in along with the thread; but should any of them be inadvertently fixed, they can be picked out easily with a point. When this is completed, the hair will resume its natural order and completely conceal the seam.