Birds, Old and New

By: Tom Huntington

We don’t really have a review section in the magazine, but I want to mention a new publication that has arrived in my office. It’s Birds of a Feather: Wildfowl Decoys of the Shelburne Museum, a big coffee-table book that takes a deep look at some of the 1,200 carvings in the collection of this Vermont facility. The decoys of Joel Barber, a pioneering collector, provide the core of the museum’s holdings. In 1923, Barber helped organize the first decoy show, which took place in Bellport, Long Island. “Held in the local library, the event featured a small display of his private collections and included juried competitions for contemporary decoy carvers,” writes Kory W. Rogers in the chapter about Barber. (I would be very interested in seeing the winning decoys!)

Along with Rogers’s overview of Barber’s life and collections, the book includes an essay by Cynthia Byrd about the history of American decoys, and a chapter with X-ray photographs that show the inner construction of some antiques. The rest of the book is a glorious collection of beautiful photographs of birds in the museum’s collection. Contemporary decoy carvers will find a lot of inspiration here.

We hope you’ll find inspiration within these pages, too. We have ducks—an amazing palm frond pintail by Tom Christie, Daniel Montano’s beautiful ruddy, and an exotic ringed teal by Brad Snodgrass. This is Brad’s first article for the magazine and, as you will see, he did an excellent job. He encourages other carvers to “think outside of the pond” and try carving species that you might not normally see in your neck of the woods.

Jerry Poindexter’s Painting Notes also offers a sense of the exotic this issue, with a red-crested cardinal from South America. We have other songbirds, too, including Jerry Simchuk’s instructions on painting a scrub jay. For all you magpie carvers out there, we will run Jean Minaudier’s painting demonstration in our next issue. Jean explained the carving last time. In this issue, we offer Rick Burkman’s magpie reference article, which includes Jean’s color guide. The guide is just a hint of things to come—Jean will go into much greater detail in the Winter issue.

Finally, we have an excerpt from our latest workbench project, Laurie J. McNeil’s Loon and Chicks. This is just a taste of the information the book offers. If you don’t already belong to the Wildfowl Carving Magazine book club, I encourage you to join so you can get Loon and Chicks as soon as it comes out, and at a good price. You can find a link on our website, www.wildfowl-carving.com.


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