In a recent group post a Taxidermy Lab member asked if someone could explain what freeze drying is and how does it work in taxidermy. Quickly one of the best freeze drying taxidermist in the country replied.
I run 4 freeze dry machines. They are specialized equipment. Operating one successfully requires some experience and consistent cash on hand to maintain them. preventative maintenance is worth its weight in gold.
So freeze drying in a nutshell: You take a specimen (anything with a cellular structure) and remove the moisture from it while keeping the specimen at freezing or below. Moisture is removed with a vacuum pump. This moisture is collected in a secondary chamber called the condensing unit. The moisture takes the form of a block of ice. When you get enough ice built up to warrant releasing the vacuum then you can reverse the Freon, pull out your ice chunk, release the vacuum & open up the main specimen chamber and add or remove items.
Freeze drying does take special equipment and machines. And with time and experience, anything can be mastered.
Fat does not freeze dry, so there are a lot of things that still need to be skinned and prepped a more traditional way to ensure longevity. Freeze dry will never replace conventional taxidermy for most specimens; however, it can produce exceptional results – just depends on the specimen and application.~ Andrea Huntley-Sawinski ~