The Art of the Duck Decoy
Whether you prefer watching birds wiz through the air or waking up to the crisp, colorful mornings of fall, we can all agree that beauty can be found in nature every day. For accomplished artist Michael Braun, he recreates the beauty he finds in nature through his talent of carving. Though he is an award-winning and talented painter, duck decoys are Mike’s specialty, and a gift that’s been shared with him from his father since he was nine years old. The pair bonded over the beauty of waterfowl, the art of carving, and the family tradition of hunting. With over 25 years experiences in the art of carving, Mike is still finds joy in creating a custom, one of a kind pieces of art for others to use and enjoy.
Historically, duck decoys were made out of any material and feathers one could find to resemble a duck. Using decoys to draw ducks to an area where they feel comfortable and secure gives a hunter an advantage when attempting to harvest a meal. Today, decoys are still made by hand, but usually out of wood or foam materials. Creating a decoy can take 12 to 15 hours, a process that spans two days, and sometimes even longer for art competition pieces.
Mike begins the process by cutting and roughing out the shape of the decoy. Once carved, he hollows out the duck shape and glues the pieces together. After the glue dries, the seams are cleaned up and sanded to produce a fine finish. When the wood is properly sealed, the vibrant colors of the duck are produced with oil paints. The finishing touches include adding proper weights to provide balance for proper flotation.
In a world full of new technology and less time spent outdoors, Mike hopes to keep the art of decoy carving alive for future generations. You don’t have to be a hunter to appreciate the beauty and intricacy of duck decoys. These beautiful works of art are often elevated to showpieces, never touching the water. And if you love ducks and duck art, the Federal Duck Stamp is a great way to show your love of ducks and contribute to conservation. Michael and his father are avid hunters and conservationists, and hope that the craft they share continues to inspire and connect the next generation of birders and hunters to conserve and protect waterfowl and the habitats they call home.
Click here to see more great works of art by Michael Braun.