Yesterday was the day for Jerald to demonstrate the early steps in duck carving. Today was the day for him to show some of his finished carvings. Jerald had invited his friend and student, William, to show us some of his work, also. William's wife, Dot, joined Kate and Judy in further conversations about everyone's travels, food, and life in Acadiana (south-central Louisiana).
Unfortunately, Jerald had only a few of his carvings to show me. This pair of Wood Ducks were ones of which he was particularly proud. Note the band present on the leg of the male (photo above; leg on the left as you view the photo.)
Jerald told me that he begins his carvings from "the ground up," that is, he will often meet with landowners and lumber comapnies to learn where tupelo trees are being cut down. He uses the part of the tree closest to the ground, so this softest part of the tree is usually left after the tree is removed.
Not only did Jerald carve the cardinals (right), but he also carved the branches, leaves, and the blueberries.
The photos do not show the texture and the detail that goes into these carvings. Individual feathers are created by using a wood-burning tool to create the individual blades in each feather. Jerald let me use this tool to draw the blades of a feather. This was very delicate, slow work. I think I'm a patient person, but this work appeared beyond my limits.
The next photos show the work of one of Jerald's students, William, who has been carving for about 12 years.
Now if I could only remember the name of this species of duck (above).
This is a Pintail (right). The two pintail feathers are a separate piece and can be removed.
Jerald and William talked about the extreme attention to detail that is expected of duck carvings entered in competition. They use calipers to measure every detail, for example, the length or width of the bill, the shape of the feathers, and the positioning of the eyes.
This is William's Wood Duck. Both carvers said that the Wood Duck is their favorite duck to carve because the male (shown here) is so colorful.
Jerald noted, "Painting the ducks is the work I enjoy most." While some is done by hand, much of the painting is done with the delicate use of an air brush.
I really liked Williams' Hooded Merganser.
Both Jerald (right) and William were justifiably proud of their work. When William was first learning to carve, he became quite frustrated with his slow progress. Jerald encouraged him to come to his workshop; William did and worked side by side with Jerald. Watching Jerald work gave William an opportunity to observe each step and then duplicate it. The result was a student who now enjoys the results of his work.
Before saying good-bye, we took a photo of our hosts and their friends (l. to r., Jerald, Judy, Dot, and William).
As we drove back to the campground, both Kate and I had a feeling that we would be back someday to sit down for a bowl of gumbo with our new Cajun friends.