Jack Eddy was born in Indian River, Michigan in 1938 and was destined to become the third generation of the Eddy family to carve fish decoys. Beginning with the time of the family’s arrival in Cheboygan County in the late 19th century, his father, John C. Eddy (1913-1993), his grandfather, Charles Eddy (1870-unk), and his uncles, Harry R. (1910-1982) and Charles, Jr. (Chick) (1916-1996) all had been decoy carvers. This family tradition was not lost on young Jack and he too began to carve at a very early age. He must have teethed on a fish decoy as by 1952 he was winning ribbons at the Cheboygan County Fair 4-H Club exhibit for his fine working decoys. He grew up with Marvin Mason, Jr. and the two fished, carved and painted together, each learning from and teaching the other. Their association and friendly rivalry served to elevate both to a higher level of artistic achievement. Jack’s natural talents were further enhanced when he was able to attend art school for a time in the late ‘50s.
As an adult Eddy worked as a machinist in local machine shops while continuing to hone his carving skills to the sharp edge they have today. Although his fish decoys have become more refined over time he has always remained true to his roots making genuine working decoys in the traditional “Tower” style. His modern fish decoy carvings include perch, trout (Brook, Brown & Rainbow), pike, sunfish, bluegill, black crappie, and shiner with the trouts and pike being the most common. In addition to the fish decoys John also carves fish plaques and miniature examples of Michigan wildlife.
Of his vintage decoys, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Brown Trout and pike are the most common. They have tin tails but wooden tails are also known. Carved gills and mouths are the norm. The eyes are carved and painted. Line-ties are usually a single wire loop but I have seen some examples with screw-eyes. Generally they have a full complement of fins appropriate to the species and are realistically painted. The leading scheme is a single oblong belly weight. As far as can be determined John has never signed his work preferring that each piece speak for itself.
Information above provided by Gary Miller
This is an excerpt of an up-coming book by Gary Miller on Michigan Carvers