Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Carvings

Hunting and decoy carving are time-honored traditions on Ocracoke Island. Years ago, when mass-produced plastic decoys were introduced, many hunters discarded their heavy wooden decoys. Some were even tossed into wood stoves and used as firewood! Eventually islanders realized that their hand-carved ducks were works of art, and were becoming collectable and quite valuable.

As a result, a number of Ocracokers began making smaller decorative bird carvings (gulls, terns, wading birds, etc.) for the tourist trade. A few months ago I discovered a box of my father's unfinished carvings in the attic. The picture below shows one small "blank," three partially finished carvings, and one completed shore bird.












More Ocracoke Island decoys and carvings can be seen at the Preservation Museum. Stop in sometime to take a look at all of the displays.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first person account of the "Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Windows Heist." You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm

7 comments:

  1. I have a wonderful Canada goose decoy carved by my maternal grandfather, Lawrence Howard, who also appears in a great book on the subject of decoys by Jack Dudley. It's a family treasure.

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  2. Anonymous8:08 AM

    they are useless in todays world but look great on a mantle. too bad they are carved today only for the $$$.

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    1. Actually, there are a few island hunters who still make and use wooden decoys.

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  3. Anonymous9:46 AM

    8:08 anon plastic ones are made for the money too. Hello ! Walmat does not give away plastic duck hunting decoys. The plastic ones are for a quick buck-- the economies of scale --the company injection molds those things by the thousands in China. The people that buy the plastic ones contribute to the trade deficit. They propably litter the lake side with the abandoned plastic duck carcas. If duck hunting were outlawed then the plastic decoys would be useless unless One had a Collection of Plastic duck decoys and opened a mesuem where people would come to see 'em.

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  4. Having done some guide work years ago, I always liked how the wooden decoys floated in the water better than the plastic ones. That doesn't mean the plastic decoys didn't work. They did. Being a natural material, wood has always been my preference.
    I have an unfinished redhead carved by a nephew of Ned Burgess. He carved it in his uncle's method using a hatchet, and although a Burgess decoy will fetch thousands of dollars, my redhead may not be worth much. It still means a lot to me.
    In your photo Phillip, I am admiring your beautiful heart pine flooring.

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    1. Mike, that is actually my kitchen table. It doesn't look that much different from my floor!

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  5. Anonymous5:12 PM

    anon 9:46, calm down, there is no need to an lesson in economics...I think that anon 8:08 was getting at is that all the time involved in making a wood decoy and then throwing it out into the elements makes no sense since it is worth more on the shelf than in the water. plastic, foam, canvas, wood cork whatever is made of will work. remember these are stupid birds in front of your gun, they don't care what they are made out of.

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