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The Blair School, Part Two

We've examined the Blair decoys from the past. Now it's time to return to the present and paint our own.

Photography by Geoffrey Vine

The finished wigeon decoy is an interesting combination of John Blair style and my own take on New Jersey style decoys. The shape, paint patterns, and finish hardware accentuate the Blair style while the hollow cedar construction and traditional tube oil paint application add additional touches of authenticity. Like its ancestors, this is a simple decoy, built for a straight-forward purpose. And just like a classic Blair, it is likely to catch the eye of the avid collector as well as the eye of ducks in the marsh.

When you carve in a historical regional style, the details make the difference. In part one of this article (Winter 2011), I examined a number of John Blair, Sr., decoys to discover the elements that define his style. Carvers like Blair develop personal styles through repetitive use of similar carving, painting, and rigging techniques. As a carver becomes more and more prolific, the elements that define his or her style become even more pronounced. In this article, I will demonstrate the techniques that I used to create the painting and rigging details for my Blair Style drake wigeon decoy. The hope is that the presence of these details will at least remind the observer of Blair's work. If you are able to go further and evoke even a little of the appeal found in Blair's original work, you will have created a great decoy. 

This article is from the Spring 2011 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.

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