Wood carving is a form of woodworking by means of cutting tool (knife) in one hand and a hunk of wood in the other. If the carver makes a fish then they are a fish carver, but when you add weight and a line tie and make it swim, you have graduated to becoming a fish decoy carver. A most unique person that spends many lonely hours hidden away in a dark corner creating something from nothing but a block of wood. Just to be fair, some fish decoys are made from metal or paper or any other material and yes these will be counted as fish carvers also. Many of these folk artist carve from whimsical to what is called species quality where it is hard to tell the real fish from the carving and whimsical is where many times only the imagination will guide you in identifying the type of fish or critter that has been carved.
What is most important is that these carvers are known as folk artists. The folk art of making a decoy to attract fish is the oldest known folk art to exist today. Many fish decoys are from primitive, service working, competition grade and collector entries. All have become collectible and that is why a Fish Decoy encyclopedia is needed. This will help those that cannot find reference books or that are not able to afford some of them. Also, when a book is done then there is no way to correct inaccuracies of entries. DecoyPedia is a reference that is alive – alive with new knowledge being added daily or weekly as new knowledge is found about existing listed carvers or a new carver that is just getting started.
When a new carver starts they can feel overwhelmed by all the choices and directions to go. Our only recommendations are:
1. Find a mentor or mentors (the more the better)
2. Practice practice practice (quality does not happen overnight)
3. See what others are doing and if you copy someone else’s style then say so, but if you make yours after a school like the Cadillac school of style, which Oscar Peterson created or the school of river carvings or Minnesota style then that is OK, just know the old timers will know.
Go to the shows, sit with other carvers and ask questions, they will be the ones that will help you grow in your carving. The best part of fish decoy carving is getting to fish with what you make.