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Woodcarver to speak at art league meeting

Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Provided photo)
This decoy is one example of expert woodcarver Bill Thumm's work. Thumm will discuss handcrafting and painting waterfowl decoys at the next meeting of the Kishwaukee Valley Art League at 7 p.m. Thursday at 158 N. Fourth St., DeKalb.

The next meeting of the Kishwaukee Valley Art League will feature a demonstration of carving waterfowl decoys.

The speaker for the evening will be expert woodcarver Bill Thumm, who has been handcrafting and painting waterfowl decoys for more than 30 years. Thumm is considered to be one of the premiere carvers in the Midwest, and crafts more than 20 different species of ducks and geese.

The league meeting will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of DeKalb, on the corner of North Fourth and Locust streets in DeKalb, at 7 p.m. Thursday. The meeting is open to all; there is no membership requirement or admission to attend. Refreshments are served after the demonstration.

Thumm’s interest in waterfowl developed through his experience as a duck hunter, and his first decoys were carved in the early 1970s. He began attending art shows and selling hand-carved decoys in the late 1980s. He now carves in his leisure time and hopes to do it full time after he retires from the education field.

The decoys Thumm carves are handcrafted one at a time. Each begins as a block of tupelo wood. Once a pattern is developed to the life-size scale of the duck, a band saw is used to remove the excess wood. Once the shape of the bird is roughed out, knives and small cutters are used to carve the individual feathers and add texture.

The entire bird is wood-burned to provide realism and feather softness. Finally, each decoy is hand painted with acrylic paint. The entire process takes 100 to 150 hours. Thumm plans to show examples of the various stages of the process in his presentation. He will bring tools and show some of the carving process.

More information and pictures of Thumm’s work can be found on at http://waterfowlcarvingsinwood.com.

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