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He Paints Pictures On Cattle Skulls
Wisconsin artist Martin Mendez, of Rochester, is winning fame and recognition for the cattle skulls he turns into beautiful art objects.
"I stumbled onto this rare art being done by a craftsman in Texas," says Mendez. "I was fascinated and decided I'd like to try it. My painted cattle skulls became an immediate hit with all that saw them."
Mendez buys cattle heads at local butchering plants. He uses a "secret process" to quickly and easily clean off the meat.  
"I have the butcher save only those heads that have horns on them" he notes. "If they have curved-out horns, they're even more appealing to buyers."
Once the meat has been removed from the skull and it's as dry as those found on a western desert, it's ready for decorating with colorful acrylic paints.
Mendez first paints the entire skull with a coat of flat white paint inside and out. Even the teeth are given a coat of white paint. The horns also are painted white, except for black trim on the points.
One of this favorite skulls has a bright red background and has the figure of an Indian chief painted on the forehead. "The Indian was enough decoration for this particular skull," says Mendez. "I blended and faded the dominant red color to appear like the sun's rays protruding from it. It gives the painting an interesting effect."
Another popular choice with Mendez's customers is a bright yellow skull. The figure of a buffalo, reproduced from the buffalo off an Indian head nickel, decorates its surface.
A favorite with youngsters is his "Rhinestone Cowboy" skull. It's painted entirely sky-blue and measures 20 in. from the top of the forehead to the tip of the nose. Small holes drilled into the surface of the skull have colorful jewelry stones cemented into them.
Another popular skull depicts an Indian warrior carrying the body of his dead squaw in his arms and gazing towards heaven.
Mendez sells the finished art pieces for $150 and up. "The cost for each depends on how many hours it took to complete, and how difficult it was to do. I don't charge as much for those I can do quickly," he told. FARM SHOW.
For more information, contact: Martin Mendez, 2340 N. Brownslake Rd., Burlington, Wis. 53105 (ph 414 534-3426).

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1983 - Volume #7, Issue #6