George Williams decoys

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Re: George Williams decoys

Post  Davey Welsh on Fri Mar 02, 2012 3:31 pm

I would hardly say blessed...if you saw the pile of scrap heads and bodies you'd shit yourself. I just started carving with incredibly unrealistic expectations of myself. If I made a mistake, I threw it away. I know my decoys certainly aren't perfect, but because I have such high expectations for what I do, they end up being pretty good I guess. I can't throw away everything, but the level of what is acceptable to me is pretty high.

I will say that to this point, it is rare that I scrap a head or body. I've gotten pretty comfortable with turning out heads and bodies that are acceptable. I am at the point where I'm kind of torn about which direction to go with my carving. Part of me really likes the IWCA style decoys, with as much realism as possible. Like Pat Godin or Jett Berett. For gunning blocks I like to keep them simple but also with a touch of the IWCA look. But part of me wants to wander into the Delaware river/Barnegat bay/Tuckerton schools, because I really like the style of these decoys. I have a lot of cedar to play with, so I'm working on drawing up a delaware river style puddle duck pattern that I'd like to try carving with all hand tools.

My painting is by far my biggest crutch. If I could paint even half as good as some of the decoys I've carved, I'd be really moving forward. For gunning birds my paint is fine, but to me decoy carving is an art. Sure I want to turn out gunning birds, but I enjoy taking a bird from nothing more than a sketch on a piece of paper and turning it into something that resembles a piece of functional art. I think for new carvers its important to carve simple gunning blocks to get past the learning curves and from there, go with a direction that you really like.

I really like Geoff Vine's decoys and I am really itching to try something like this. It would probably take me 2 months to paint it in a manner that I would accept, but it sure would be fun to try.



But then a large part of me likes the ultra realistic IWCA style. I believe I can acheive the carving, but the paint is another story.



I guess I just need to keep carving and wander where ever I feel like at the moment. I think that is what makes an artist, you just go with what you're feeling at the moment. My best decoy to date was this black duck I did and I love how the carving turned out. I just boogered the painting but I plan to repaint this decoy here in the near future using a different technique and method.

Sorry..I rambled. LOL!

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Re: George Williams decoys

Post  george w on Fri Mar 02, 2012 6:36 pm

the iwca stuff is probably farthest from hunting decoys as you can get! Best we do here is find ways of getting from point a to point b, so that sometimes, ducks come to the stuff--I am an abstract painter, by training, and my roots stem from Kline, DeKooning, Motherwell, etc. Too ADD to spend time in minutae, although, i cen appreciate the objects for what they are--decoratives without all the falderall. I can even look at the niceties of mainstream decorative stuff, but my head always makes the shift to: Why the hell are these guys and girls spending sooooo much time trying to replicate what God already dod a pretty good job with? If it can be tossed in a rig, or much less, into a body of water without someone having a cow about being too rough on their stuff, i consider it a good hunting tool.. Mind you, noone in their right mind guns over Godin's stuff. That is not the intended purpose of them..
I can occasionally catch a judge's eye from 20 yards or more, but then, they are never in season, so i do that end for S& G, and just for a time to bs with folks.

When we get this squared away, you will understand a bit better.

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Re: George Williams decoys

Post  Davey Welsh on Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:59 pm

I understand what you're saying George. I think it boils down to what you want to carve and for what puropse. Some guys just want to hunt over their own hand made blocks. I think decoy carving is an art. I enjoy hunting over my own blocks and its fun making simple gunning birds that fool ducks. But I also appreciate the art of decoy carving and the history of form and function. I want to carve gunning blocks, but I also want to carve from an art perspective too.

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Re: George Williams decoys

Post  george w on Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:34 pm

This may sound strange, but, my grounding is in the fine arts. I have an MFA in painting, but have always looked on the process as one for making hunting tools..The aesthetic end, for me, anyway, comes from playing with attitudes on the dekes. Most folks who gun over my stuff have one or two oddies in their rigs, too--It has been a matter of discovering what is attractive to ducks, and it seems that variety is a reasonable answer--No matter how much talent the guys who make the models for the plastoids may be, you are still hunting over plastic cookie cutters--I will have to say, though, that with all of the different stuff available, there may be a few concessions--HOWEVER, it is what it is, and the cookie cutters just do not hang around very long--
A major question to ask yourself when going through the process is---How does the deke look at 20+ yards? If most of the falderall does not appear to be an asset, then, you can either simplify what you do, or, go wild!
My choice has always been to simplify, so someone else could easily duplicate the colors and repair with some degree of accuracy.
Remember, when those 20 hour cuties get shot on a low duck attack, they were origianlly intended to be hunting tools, so no tears or donald ducking!!!! Wink Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy


Last edited by george w on Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:22 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : typos)

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Re: George Williams decoys

Post  george w on Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:21 pm

gotta clarify--the whole thing is basically a philosophical one--It's all a matter of what you want to do, eh?

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Re: George Williams decoys

Post  Davey Welsh on Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:10 pm

george w wrote:gotta clarify--the whole thing is basically a philosophical one--It's all a matter of what you want to do, eh?

I definitely understand what you're saying George, and you are fine example of a great decoy maker. Like I said before, I am kind of stuck in the middle of both right now and because I haven't been doing this very long, I am still learning. I love the idea of carving simple gunning blocks and I think that is what I will carve (and paint) the most right now because it will help me learn the art of form and function. But I do have to satisfy my occassional desire to carve a bird from strictly an art point of view. Granted I may not be a great artist, but Rome wasn't built in a day and the more I learn the better my decoys will get.

In fact, this cork mallard gunning rig is nearly finished (carving) and I've got this bug to try a New Jersey decoy. I've spent days drawing and changing this pattern and I'm nearly set on it. Just planed up two beautiful pieces of cedar that I will setup tonight for a real gorgeous block of carving wood. I'm going to go all traditional on this decoy. All hand tools, gouges, draw knife, spoke shave and my detail knives. I have no clue WTF I am doing but if my bird looks like a New Jersey decoy with influence from George Strunk, Sean Sutton and Geoff Vine (even though he's not a Jersey carver) and I pull it off nicely I'll be happy. cheers

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Re: George Williams decoys

Post  george w on Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:12 pm

what, no riley horner?
It is simply a matter of where YOU choose to eventually travel. The fun thing for me, anyway, was finding my own path. Just began figuring out what would work to attract ducks. Occasionally, i got lucky!


Last edited by george w on Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:14 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : add-on)

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Re: George Williams decoys

Post  Davey Welsh on Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:17 pm

george w wrote:what, no riley horner?
It is simply a matter of where YOU choose to eventually travel. The fun thing for me, anyway, was finding my own path. Just began figuring out what would work to attract ducks. Occasionally, i got lucky!

LOL! The only thing I really need to do is take a damned art class. Me and paint just don't go good together. Its like piss and vinegar.

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Re: George Williams decoys

Post  george w on Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:28 pm

truth be known, that is not a bad idea!!! the instructor MAY even be quite a help with colors for decoys, especially if you bring in the dekes to paint as projects, hopefully, along with specimens!!!

A book---Joseph Albers, Interaction of Color, Yale Univ. Press
A super neat read on how that stuff works!

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