I started carving in the Summer of 2009 after taking a class by Geoff Davis of 50 Little Birds. Check out Geoff’s site, he’s now working on a gorgeous series of birds from his Northern Forest Canoe Trail trip last Summer. Anyways, shortly after I started researching songbird and decoy carvers on the web, as well as purchasing numerous books on the subject.
From the books, I was drawn to the older, more primitive decoys. It was amazing to see the various styles specific to regions. Starting out, and probably still, I had a hard time figuring out the dimensional aspects of the birds from a single image. Scale, body shape, a clean head to body joint, and beak shape seemed all foreign to me. The blocks of wood and a single photograph didn’t equate. I needed to have a physical decoy in hand to better understand the process. So, I got on eBay and luckily came across a collection of carved, but not finished decoys by Orville Bergmann of Van Dyne, Wisconsin, from 1993. I ended up buying all seven available of various waterfowl and styles. The bodies were carved from Cedar, and the heads from Pine or Basswood. Carving decoy folk art started to make more sense. The picture below is of an Orville Bergmann Heron Lake Style Canvasback. He was truly an amazing sculptor of wood.