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A Resplendent Quetzal, Part Two

The bird--and the themes--emerge from the wood as the sculpture develops.

By: Keith Mueller
Photography by Keith Mueller

As I carved my piece of Savegre avocado wood (see part one in the Fall 2014 issue), I wasn’t exactly sure what tale I wanted to tell with the sculpture. At first I just wanted to concentrate on rough-shaping the quetzal as I remembered seeing it, perched on an overhanging snag in Costa Rica’s Savegre Valley. I thought a lot about how I wanted to present the bird. Simply recreating the female perched on the snag would be fairly easy, but I wanted to do something more dramatic and comprehensive. My days in the land of the quetzal had given me a chance to learn more about the species and forge an emotional connection with the bird. In this sculpture, I wanted to follow its life trail.

Because this would be a one-piece sculpture and require many, many hours of carving, I had to be extra careful from first cut to last. A single miscalculation or an incorrect tool cut could compromise the overall sculpture, or even ruin it.

Read the rest of this article in Wildfowl Carving Magazine’s Winter 2015 issue!

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