More photos of "Cabin Folk Art: Duck Decoys"
Get a glimpse of the artists and browse web-exclusive images of their work
Published: June 4, 2012
Originally an ingenious tool used by hunters, duck decoys have undoubtedly been enlivening the cabinets, mantles, and nooks in countless getaways for generations. In the August 2012 issue ("Cabin Folk Art: Duck Decoys"), we gave you a brief history of these practical voices, as well as photos that prove hand-carved duck decoys are now an iconic American art form. Here is more information about the best contemporary carvers and collectors, along with bonus photos of their decoys. Enjoy!
Decoys lined up for competition at the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art's Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo. Photo courtesy Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art
, Salisbury University.
Marty Hanson is widely regarded among his fellow carvers and collectors as one of the greatest contemporary decoy artists, and the lifelike detail in his carvings is unparalleled. Hanson has been carving for 36 years, starting as a worker for a wooden duck club while in high school. He soon found that he could make a living by carving decoys, but he wouldn't have much time for another job if he had wanted one. Hanson owns 5.5 acres of land in Hayward, Wis., featuring 1,200 feet of lakeshore. His "pieced-together" log cabin includes a room that was added on for the sole purpose of housing some 350 duck and fish decoys and hunting memorabilia, which make up just a small part of his entire collection. Also on the property is a 5,000-square-foot geothermal shop, where Hanson runs his business, carving, restoring and dealing decoys and other antiques.
1 / 3
Photo courtesy Marty Hanson
George Strunk carves his Delaware River-style decoy at home in a one-car garage. He has been carving for almost 30 years and has been doing it full-time since 1993. After carving his decoys by hand from start to finish, he sells his work mostly to collectors and a couple of dealers. His current personal collection currently includes about 75 pieces. Here are some examples of his work.
1 / 3
Photo courtesy George Strunk
Black Duck by George Strunk. For more photos of George Strunk's work and a video of his carving technique, visit his website at www.georgestrunkdecoys.com
Joe & Donna Tonelli
Joe Tonelli and his wife, Donna, own Fish-N-Fowl Antiques, and they have been actively collecting and dealing in quality waterfowling and fishing collectibles for over 35 years. Joe has been collecting duck decoys for nearly half a decade, starting as a duck hunter (what else?) at the age of 16. He has witnessed firsthand the growth of the decoy industry through the years. "Forty years ago, people would practically throw them at you," says Tonelli. "I probably have decoys that I bought for five dollars that are worth six figures now." Although he estimates his current collection to be 600 or more, he says that, when it comes to collecting decoys, "it's not how many, it's how good" the individual pieces are. Joe and Donna Tonelli take great pride in their collection, parts of which can be found in each room of their home. Donna has written various books on the history of duck decoys, and she also carves in her spare time.
1 / 3
Photo courtesy Joe & Donna Tonelli
Joe and Donna Tonelli's home rivals a museum with all of its antique knickknacks. Duck decoys can be found in nearly every cabinet, including this one in the front room. To see more photos of Joe and Donna Tonelli's collection, as well as information on Donna's books, visit www.edecoy.org
Like many other collectors, Roger Ludwig got into the business of duck decoys by first being a duck hunter. In the 1950s, an 18-year-old Ludwig searched for hunting decoys and eventually paid five dollars for a collection of 57 duck decoys. Back then, he says, no one thought they would ever be worth anything. What was once considered crude is now known as folk art. "It's an American thing," says Ludwig, who now buys and trades decoys, and he estimates that he has about 500 decoys in his collection. Ludwig has served as the chairman of the Wisconsin Decoy Show for the last 15 years.
1 / 2
Photo by Gary Koelbl
From Roger Ludwig's collection, an antique Canvasback drake by Gus Moak. For more information on carvings and the Wisconsin Decoy Show, email Roger Ludwig at email@example.com
Register online for access to more valuable resource information.
Don't miss your connection to the reader forums, projects, photo galleries, and more.