Making Foamer Decoys

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Making Foamer Decoys

Post  DonMintz on Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:11 pm

Over the past 9 years I have been making handcarved foam decoys. It has been a collaborative effort from the input of many people. Hand carved foam decoys is a great starting place for someone who just wants to try making a few decoys to hunt over, but hasn't done much in the way of any other form of carving. I backed into the method a bit since I had been a wood carver for many years before I was ever exposed to the foamer method. I also didn't come from a decoy carving background, most of my work was fish and animal wood carvings. Making foamer decoys can simplify the issues of balance and float that are associated with wood and cork. There aren't any limits to what can be done with foam, it's a very flexible medium that allows for a lot of experimentation.

The process starts with simple materials that can be purchased locally or even found for free at various construction sites. Foam of course is where you start, you want a foam with strong density without being overly heavy. I like to use the pink foam from home depot and it is about the minimum for strength in my opinion. Carving tools can range from a simple sharp fillet knife to rasps and coarse sandpaper. I carve all my foamers with the same foredom that I use for wood. The most consistent tile adhesive I have used is acrylpro from home depot, I also get my burlap in their garden section. Apoxy sculpt and glass eyes are those things that usually have to be ordered online from a variety of suppliers. You can use any paint that you might currently use on any hunting decoy. I prefer to use oil based enamels on my foamers and use them both painting with a brush and thinned painting with an airbrush.

When you start, settle on a simple design of a duck you are reasonably familiar with. Diver ducks are a good choice, especially when it comes to the painting part.

I start with a block that is 4 inches thick, 7 inches wide and 14 inches long.




The heads are made from a hardboard core profile created from a photo for accuracy with foam added to both sides for shaping. I rough shape the heads prior to putting them on the body so that the neck transition can be carved in smoothly.


Slots can be cut along major feather groups and the back of the neck in order to get clean edges, otherwise the burlap will flatten out as it dries.



Burlapping begins with the head. Put a smooth layer of tile adhesive over the head and front third of the body. Cut a separate piece of burlap and secure it along the top of the head working it down and out onto the body to secure the head. Some cuts and splices may be necessary in order to get the burlap to lay smooth.



Add more tile adhesive to the rest of the body and cut a large piece of burlap with a slit cut about 8 inches into the front end to work around the head and neck.



Once the entire decoy is burlapped, smooth the surface with a wet brush to get it as smooth as possible.


After the decoy is dry, add a bottom piece of burlap to complete the process and then allow the decoy to dry thoroughly, which can take days to weeks.


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Re: Making Foamer Decoys

Post  Davey Welsh on Wed Jul 04, 2012 11:14 am

Great tutorial Don! Thanks! I also put this up on our main site, under articles. http://www.ducklodgecentral.net/articles.html

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Re: Making Foamer Decoys

Post  DonMintz on Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:14 pm

Once you have allowed the decoy to become thoroughly dry you can get it ready for paint. First a second coat of tile adhesive, spread with a putty knife and smoothed with a brush, leaving a uniform coverage that helps with the final sanding. The better you do that step, the easier the sanding step will be. This layer doesn't require the amount of drying time that the tile adhesive under the burlap does. Once it is dry, lightly sand the entire decoy and carve down the bill as well as cutting holes for the eyes.





A mix of apoxy sculpt can be used to set the eyes in place as well as construct a bill that resists wear and breaking. The apoxy sculpt is good for reinforcing the wing tips, tail and any other areas that you may want to create or detail.








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