I have been preparing shark skulls for a variety of clients now for the past 8 years.
I stumbled on an idea a year ago to show shark skulls both retaining the skin and muscle tissue on one side of the head, and show the cartilage exposed on the other.
This poses a huge challenge, as the techniques and chemicals involved need to be very selective for this type of articulation.
The skin side of the skull needs to be prepared and injected with chemicals that help to harden and preserve the tissue and muscle, whilst still retaining the shape of the head.
The cartilage side of the skull needs to be prepared as a normal skull would be, except the chemicals used to whiten this section cannot be used on the skin section as they will lighten the skin colour.
The cartilage section of the skin needs to be cleaned as if preparing a normal skull, including the cleaning of the jaw itself. This process can be quite tricky as this section of the skull is attached to the other half with tissue attached.
With prepared heads, the skin part, due to the chemicals used, might fade a bit, and therefore will need to be stained with inks, matching the surrounding skin colour of the head. Sometimes up to 8 different inks can be used to achieve the final shades.
These skull mounts can take up to 2 months to be finished, as the skull is dried slowly, allowing the chemicals to penetrate deep into the tissue and preserve the tissue.