Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jerald, Carver of Ducks

"Do you know any duck carvers who wouldn't mind people dropping by their workshop to talk about their work?"

In response to this question, the folks at the Breaux Bridge Information Center suggested we call Jerald Lasseigne. We did, and that call led to an informative, educational visit to Jerald's workshop.

Jerald was a very gracious host and spent a good amount of time showing me some of his ducks. Then we headed to the workshop.

Jerald seemed right at home in this House of Sawdust. There were a variety of drills, saws, sanders, and paints for delivery via airbrush in this carved-duck nest.

Jerald is self-taught. He has read books and talks to other carvers, but it has been his patient attention to detail that has led him to be commissioned by a private collector to carve 124 ducks for him. Jerald has completed six.

Jerald took me through the initial steps to obtain the rough model. He brought out a block of tupelo, a light wood that made carving very easy. He then traced a pattern of the side view, front view, and top view of the head on one block and the same three views of the body on another, larger block.

The completion of the tracing produced blocks that looked like this (right). They were now ready for the band saw.

At this point, I was having difficulty visualizing how to make cuts on each of those blocks.

As I watched Jerald make the cuts around the tracing on the side view, I noticed that he did not completely remove all the excess wood.

On the top view side of the block, he also made cuts around most of the pattern. The cuts were not complete because the block needed to remain flat on all four sides until all the necessary cuts had been made.

I still had a hard time visualizing how the cuts affected the other cuts. That difficulty is probably not clear to anyone reading this, but I couldn't explain my inability to picture how to get to the end product to Jerald, either. So he kept cutting.

The he began cutting the final view--the front view (drawn on the end of the block). He cut into the wood and just began cutting around the traced pattern. When cutting this third view, Jerald left no sections uncut.

When his last cut completed the entire line of the pattern, he pulled the block from the band saw and the rough form of the head just slid out (above). I was beginning to understand how those three cuts on the block of wood produced this rough form of the head.

Jerald put a finished example of a duck head (photo above) on the rough form. Later, he presented me with both of these items, which now have a prominent position in our collection of items from our travels.

When the head and body in these rough cuts were put on the band saw, I looked at Jerald and said, "Half an hour down, only 249-1/2 hours to go."

Jerald smiled, "That's about right."

Kate had spent the time talking with Judy, Jerald's wife, and Gizmo, their Pomeranian. Food, music, travel, and life in Acadiana were topics they covered. I guess that Judy and Jerald had a good time, also, becase they invited us back to meet two of their friends who are frequent travelers and duck carvers.

Tomorrow we will talk about the second visit with this friendly Cajun couple.

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