Bess Maid Preservative

The Great  Preservative for ALL Taxidermy

Bess Maid Preservative is not just another dry “borax only” preservative.  It contains anti-microbial/anti-bacterial agents as well as other preserving agents.  Bess Maid is a complete all round preservative–all you’ll ever need to preserve your mounts.  We use it to preserve everything from a mouse to a moose, a fish to a fox, or a snake to a swan.  Some other companies use and recommend the mixing of salt with their preservative. If their preservative requires salt, acid or any other additive or helper, something must be wrong with it.  Some acids shrink and thicken good skins reducing the stretch and flexibility of skins.  In some cases it discolors the hair and makes it brittle. The old salt and pickle bath method of preserving is the world’s worst.  It is sometimes necessary to use salt to preserve a fresh skin until it gets to the taxidermist.  Before mounting, every trace of this salt should be removed by washing in cold water.  As you know, I have been doing taxidermy for more than seventy years.  I left some salt in two of my first mounts.  They were a giant turtle and a ten-foot long alligator.  They would become wet and sweat salt water each time the weather became humid.  This constant action of becoming wet and then dry over a period of time caused both to go to pieces.  Salt left in any skin is poison to your mount–especially in a humid climate.  Bess Maid Preservative has been used and proven for over half  a century.  For hobby, professional and museum work, Use ONLY Bess Maid Preservative!         By Sam F. Touchstone

Step #1 Wash, Dry And Shave

        First prepare the skin. Note: If the skin has been salted, thoroughly remove all salt by washing it several times in clean, cold water. Wash it in cold water and detergent and rinse in clean cold water. To reduce and kill bacteria, which is the primary cause of slippage in skins, we recommend adding Touchstone’s “Relaxo” using cold water as instructed. The process of washing cleans the hair of blood, dirt and oil.      After washing, squeeze the skin gently to remove the excess water, being careful not to ring it out or twist it like a rag as this could easily damage the hair. Next dry the hair side of the skin. We use a tumbler with sawdust, then blow the excess sawdust out of the hair with an air hose. If you don’t have a tumbler, use a box or plastic garbage bag to shake the skin in. Don’t use a hair dryer because the heat promotes bacterial growth and is not good on the skin. Now you’re ready to remove all the unwanted flesh(red meat and fat) from the flesh side of the skin. This can be done with a fleshing machine, by hand beaming(shaving), or with a degreasing machine ( a water-cooled turning wire brush system).       Note: If desired, apply preservative before fleshing to absorb excess moisture and to remove slickness of skin. If using this method, make sure to reapply preservative after fleshing.     Be careful not to cut the hair roots off in the facial area. Using a sharp scalpel is good for the face, turning the lips, eyes, ears, and fleshing the nose down close. At this point, you can wash and dry the skin again if it has gotten soiled during the fleshing process.

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Step #2 Application

      To prepare the skin for mounting and to permanently preserve it, you simply apply Bess Maid in its dry form to the flesh side of the raw, shaven hide and you are ready to go.  On small animals use a small wire to get preservative all the way in tail of skin.  It is not necessary to soak skins in solution of water and preservative.  Mount it now or freeze it in an enclosed plastic bag till you can.  You may preserve it before or after freezing.  Wrap well before freezing to keep skin clean and dry until ready to mount.  Do not let skin dry before mounting.  This preservative is not good for tanning skins.  This preservative does not harm hair, feathers, nor the finest fur.  You don’t salt it, soak it, or use any acid.  Yes, it’s easy–so don’t try to make it hard. 

So What’s Next?

      After about a week or so of drying under normal room temperature your mount should be dry and ready to apply the finishing touches.  Keep mounted specimen out of sun and in a cool dry place until mount is dry.  Do not expose mount to extreme heat (over a fireplace is especially harmful)  or cold as this may damage the mount.

Pickle Bath

I you get a skin that has been soaked in pickle bath (salt & alum) our advise is to throw it in the trash.

Large Game

We have used Bess Maid Preservative on bear, moose, elk, bull heads, and African Game. etc.


 This preservative contains eye and mucous membrane irritants.  Do not get into eyes as it may cause irritation.  House dust, dust from flour, meal, starch, etc.  should not be inhaled.  This preservative is no exception.  We do not recommend inhaling anything but pure air.  Keep out of reach of children.  This product is intended for professional use only.


Touchstone Artworks  ~  5011 East Texas Street ~ Bossier City, La. 71111

318-746-5792 / 1-800-256-4800