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Archive for February 22nd, 2010

I grew up in the 1960s and 70s.  My parents were very conservative.  Mom grew up in Philadelphia.  We were surrounded by the icons of 1970s patriotism.  I even remember the bathroom wallpaper had consisted of drawing of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and facsimiles of the the signatures of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

1976 brought a patriotic fervor.  I wore a brass belt buckle depicting a bald eagle’s head.  I came across a small bench vise that I used to build models.  An eagle and shield were painted on it’s side.  Clearly I had eagles on my mind.

I carve Indiana birds.  Bald Eagles are Indiana birds.  My family and I went on an eagle watch last winter and spotted fifty in one day.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to carve eagles until I saw this George Stapf eagle.  Like most of the carvers that influence me most, George was Pennsylvania German.  He worked around Lancaster and Harrisburg around 1900.

I don’t pretend to have produced a George Stapf quality eagle…or to have copied his work.  I work to develop my own style.  But his eagle was my starting point.  There may be others.  There are things that I would do differently…or better.

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I didn’t work much on this project this weekend.  I started puttering around with George Stapf inspired eagle.  Stapf (1862-1958), a Pennsylvania German finish carpenter carved eagles for federal buildings, GAR halls, etc. around Lancaster and Harrisburg.  I began playing with one of his designs and spent most of the weekend working on it.

Most of my designs begin on the backs of restaurant place mats.  It seems that I’ve always passed the time waiting for my meal by working out design details on place mats.  When the meal arrive I tear the important parts from the placement, fold them and put them in my pocket.

I’ve included here three or four design drawings.  The first is a pair of stylized songbirds with spots.  I really like them and plan to develop them into finished pieces, but they aren’t my chicken-like speckled bird.  In the next drawings I’ve played with rounding their bodies and adding a variety of combs and wattles.  These details may be wood, leather or metal.  The word to  “Great Speckled Bird” refer to a female, so I want to keep simple hen-like attributes.

I really like the leg positions in the first drawings and want to work at developing these for the “Great Speckled Bird”.   At this point I may make the legs and feet from heavy gauge soldered copper.

I’ve settled on the last profile.  I still need to develop a top view.  I plan to rough this bird out sometime this week.

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