Mallard speculum

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Mallard speculum

Post  Scott Salzer on Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:53 pm

What colors do 'yall mix up for drakes and hens? I tried straight ultramarine blue and it looks too fake to me. Then I tried ult.mar.blue, burnt umber, white and still didn't like it.

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Re: Mallard speculum

Post  Davey Welsh on Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:40 pm

You need to base coat this in white first. Really I've found ANY of the Pthalo colors need a white base or a neutral gray.

With a white base, take Ult. Marine blue and mix with some white to lighten it up. To create highlights/shadows, just vary the amount of white mixed in. Drakes and Hens have the same speculum colors. In fact, Drakes and hens have pretty much identical wings. Also keep in mind that puddle ducks rarely show their speculum when they are on the water. So if you're making a simple gunning bird, I'd suggest no speculum. When you start painting the speculum, now you have to think about how the wing is positioned in the manner that it is showing the speculum and make sure the primaries look right. I don't put the speculums (secondaries) on my cork gunners, but I do on my Delaware river cedar decoys because it is part of the original style.

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Re: Mallard speculum

Post  Davey Welsh on Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:45 pm

Just to show you, here's a shot of a mallard on the water, no speculum showing. If you search "Drake Mallard" on google images, you'll see that the majority do not show their speculum. You can do as you please, as they are your carvings and you should follow your own desire. I'm just helping you to understand a bit of their anatomy.



Now here's a shot showing the speculum. Notice his overall body posture but more importantly, look at how high the primary feathers are.


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Re: Mallard speculum

Post  Scott Salzer on Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:43 am

Davey-Interesting point, I did not realize this. Almost all of my plastic decoys show it so I just assumed it should be in there. I have a couple of Gene Marshall cedar decoys that show it too. I sort of like the look of it. I guess it's something I will have to think about and make a decision on. Thanks!

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Re: Mallard speculum

Post  Davey Welsh on Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:37 am

A lot of carvers like to show the speculum, but its more for the human eye. Go for it if thats what you like! Just remember to base it in white and to get the color more opaque, mix some titanium white with the paint.

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Re: Mallard speculum

Post  george w on Fri Apr 27, 2012 5:38 pm

it is usually something that shows when the bird becomes alarmed, or alert, or he/she has just landed and is not totally comfortable with surroundings! Just something to add, or not!

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Re: Mallard speculum

Post  Davey Welsh on Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:16 am

That is a good observation George. When you think in terms of anatomy and how the wing is tucked in, the level of comfort of the bird is reflected in the manner in which they rest their wings. Although I have seen a few birds who are very content who will hold their wing kind of sloppy and show the speculum. When you look back at the history of some of the various schools of decoy carving, a lot of the schools from this area, Delaware, Tuckerton, Barnegat etc. all show speculums. I've often wondered why, but I again I think it relates to the old saying of form and function. These guys weren't just making gunning decoys, they were making functional pieces of art. Thats kind of how I like to think when I'm carving cedar.

Here's a Drake that reflects what you said George. You may get the feeling that he is content, but really this guy probably just got startled..notice how his right wing is halfway out of his side pocket.


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Re: Mallard speculum

Post  george w on Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:47 pm

primaries are still extended, sooo, he could either be done with a stretch, leary of the photographer,or he just felt like showing off! I do not put them in because i am just lazy--Now, i do show some on a few divers, gaddies, and the odd speckled teal!

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Re: Mallard speculum

Post  DonMintz on Mon May 07, 2012 11:02 pm

It's pretty recognized that many decoy manufacturers put a speculum on floating mallard decoys and most other puddler species as well. It's all about the fact that ducks don't buy decoys, hunters do and adding color helps sell decoys. We get to have an expectation of things like a speculum. Sometimes it's just a part of a particular style and there is nothing wrong with that either. My particular direction is trying to be as natural a presentation as possible from a hunting standpoint, but also do the best sculpture and paint job as I am capable of, knowing that a lot of the detail is unnecessary. I find a posture that will naturally exhibit a particular part of the anatomy I want to show off.


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Re: Mallard speculum

Post  Davey Welsh on Tue May 08, 2012 5:26 am

Wow, those mallards are incredible Don!!

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