Hand Carved and Painted Realistic Wooden Bird Sculpture
Recently finished pieces
In between shows, I work on pieces commissioned by clients. Before a special piece is ordered, I will discuss at length the type of bird, positioning, composition, presentation, size and whatever else the client desires. After the planning is complete, a price is quoted and a firm order is taken. After completion, the piece is shipped or delivered to the client. These pieces are sometimes quite unique but are not seen by the public. This web page is designed to show them as they are finished.
This piece of wood was dropped off by a local tree service whose owner knows that I am always looking for unusual pieces of wood to use for bird habitat. When I saw the two knotholes, I knew immediately what I was going to do with it. The back had to be hollowed out a bit to fit the baby owls and there was just enough space to fit the adult to the side. Once again, before the piece was finished, a saw-whet owl bander asked me what I was working on currently and when I told him he asked me to reserve it for him. The finished piece never made it to a show.
I was working on this piece when a friend from Long Island visited and spent a day as our house guest. He saw the roughed owl face on my work table and thought, at first, that it was a rabbit. When I explained that it was an owl and how I planned to use it, showing him how it would fit behind the decayed butternut knot, he said, without hesitation, "I want that when its done".
This client loves blue morning glories and always looks for them to bloom around her birthday in September. Since she also enjoys seeing the humming birds flitting around them after they open, she asked me to put them both together in a special piece that she could enjoy all year long.
The client that commissioned this piece owns a wonderful old Victorian home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In the Victorian heyday, mounted songbirds were put under glass domes and displayed in homes. Because most of the old domed birds no longer exist, and it is illegal to own all but migratory birds, he asked me to do as many carvings that I could fit into a dome that he supplied to me. I found a piece of wood and modified it so that I could get four birds under the dome.
The client that commissioned this piece found a rustic looking knot in a partially decaying tree on his property some years back. He finally decided to have me put a carving of two baby Saw-whet owls into the knothole and adjust the piece so that it could be hung in the corner of his newly finished sun room.
From time to time, I'm asked to do something a little unusual. When my grandson Garnet came to visit this summer, he asked if I could carve his favorite animal, the Duck-billed Platypus for him. I never shy away from a challenge so I gave him the task to gather photos from the internet so that there was enough information to draw one up and start carving. We had fun working on it together. He tried the carving tools for a bit but we decided he wasn't quite ready for them so he was put in charge of the sanding, then we both worked on the painting.
The Barn Swallows that you see below were ordered by a client last spring. He stated that he wanted a pair of his favorite birds, barn swallows, flying through their natural habitat, perhaps a farm setting. We decided on a fence post with barbed wire and some grass. The base is a slice of the large oak burl dried in the kiln pictured on the Carving Basics page. It lends a rustic look to the piece. The post is a piece of weathered oak. The insulator and barbed wire came from a turn of the century fence found in Tioga County, PA. The grass is made from fourteen gauge steel, heavy enough to hold the weight of the birds, which are attached to individual blades. The birds are each carved from a single piece of basswood.
The Red-tailed hawk in the photos below was ordered by a client who has an extensive collection of my carvings and wanted to add a special piece to his newly remodeled home. He wanted a red-tail with its wings spread, coming down on its prey. We went through the house and found the perfect spot for it. We chose the landing on the main staircase, which created a challenge. He wanted to place the carving on a corner table that was a family heirloom. I took a tracing of the top of the table and then made the base to fit. Here was the challenge: the back sides of the base were tight against the wall so I had to be careful that the wings didn't touch the wall. I also had to take care that nothing protruded out beyond the front of the base so passers-by wouldn't bump it. The bird itself is made of basswood. Eleven pieces of wood were cut to size and glued together, taking care to have the direction of the grain and the direction of the feathers matched. The rabbit is carved from a single piece of basswood.The green rhododendrons were chosen to contrast the orange and brown of the bird. Each leaf is cut from a sheet of copper and then silver soldered to copper stems. We decided to keep the bird and the rabbit far enough apart so as to cast doubt whether the bird would be successful in its attempt for a meal.