Carving the Black-billed Magpie

Even when you carve, think about paint.

By: Jean Minaudier
Updated July 09, 2019

Jean Minaudier began carving birds alongside his father, Raymond, and has been competing since he was still in school in the early 1990s. He also contributes the patterns and color guides for Wildfowl Carving Magazine’s reference articles. Jean and his wife, Shelley, live on an acreage in southern Manitoba, where they keep their horses and a few calves. Aside from carving and painting, Jean works full-time in agricultural manufacturing.
The magpie is one of my favorite birds to carve. It has great personality and beautiful lines, and the spectrum of iridescent color provides an interesting challenge for painting. I carved my first magpie in 1993, when I was 16. It was a tiny miniature that I traced from a drawing in a Petersons field guide. That bird won me my first best of show, at the novice level. Looking back, I can see that the bird was rather crude, but I learned a lot about carving from such early projects.

By 2004 I was thinking about the Ward World Championship. I had made the long trip from Manitoba to Ocean City before, but I wanted something serious to show at the 2005 Worlds. I knew that the magpie was my go-to bird. The one I carved for the show earned me second best in world for decorative life-size wildfowl, my first win at that level of competition. The sculpture in this article is my most recent magpie. I carved it in 2015, and it was the best of show winner at the Prairie Canada Championships that year.


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