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A Hen Wood Duck Head

Jean Minaudier's new Patterns and Color Guides workbench project provides information about 30 different birds. It also includes a complete wood duck hen demonstration. Heres a peek.

By: Text and photography by Jean Minaudier

I felt that a miniature duck would be a great project for work on anatomy, laying out and carving feather groups, and exploring different techniques to create diverse surface textures. When I choose a species for a class project, I like to pick something with which I am familiar, and one that the students can identify with as well. One of my most popular waterfowl miniatures was a wood duck drake, but many of the students in this class had already carved one, so we had to agree on something else. I knew the students wanted to focus not only on carving techniques, but also on painting, and the wood duck hen would certainly provide challenges there.

I had a good idea of the pose I wanted to carve and some general concepts of what I wanted to achieve with the painting, including showcasing the iridescent purples, greens, and blues. But as I began exploring my references, I discovered that the duck’s colors can be interpreted in many different ways. In the end, I decided to expose part of the wing so that the blue secondaries and wing coverts would create a great focal point while also contrasting with the soft grays of the head.

Since this was a class project, I focused on the carving and painting and completed the habitat later. Ideally, I like to create sculptures with a vision in mind for the habitat from the beginning. I encourage carvers to begin each project with a plan so that once they have roughed out the bird, they can position it on a base or perch. This allows you to make changes to fit the habitat without reworking finished areas or damaging textured and painted surfaces when you make the feet and base.


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