Posts from the ‘Bird Painting’ Category

*The Future of Das Hamonhaus, In the Near Term

The Hamonhaus Artmeisters

I’ll be going out there (my garage/shop) shortly and turn up the base-board heater to get things cozy. I’ll putter around moving my “stuff”; since it was mostly just unloaded from our Nissan when we arrived home from Sauder Village Sunday night.  I’d like to plow right into carving on my pair of Green Herons which are both coming along nicely. However; I first need to “jump” on several bird-carving-repairs which I’ve agreed to do for perfect strangers in need. I don’t know how my name got out there (to several states) but, I certainly don’t have plans to do any more repairs (unless, I’m the carver who sold them).

We  plan to continue doing our five wood-carving shows per year; as well as our exclusive seasonal weekly “Carve-Ins” with the “Hamonhaus Carvers” . I said “with”, because, now I’m just one of the flock. If I don’t have carvers around me, everyone will wonder who I’m talking to!  The main difference  I’m really heavily counting on, is that I will  focus on my own carvings much more; and, not on my responsibilities to the students. Hopefully, this will have the desired affect of improving the out-come and quality of my own carvings!  I am no longer a member of any Carving Guild or Club; with the exception of the National Association of Woodcarvers (Chip-Chats), for the same reasons I am retiring from teaching. Distractions!  I fully expect to continue this blog inperpetuity.

I’m definitely available with-out a fee to any Hamonhaus Carver who has any current or previous carving-class project, as yet unfinished. June will be open (at previous rates) to assist or to teach the painting on these existing projects. She can not undertake teaching new projects unless the terms are increased to a reasonable amount for her time. This is how we are spelling-out our “retirement”. The Wood Duck project several of us are sneaking up on is a “Carve-In” project and has no fees; just individual material costs . Hopefully, we’ll be successful and possibly undertake future projects, as well.

I plan to attend Bob Guge’s Bird Carving Workshop for the three days prior to the Sauder Village Woodcarving Show in October of next year . I’m excited about that. This time of transition feels good to both June and me. We’re getting our Saturdays back for one thing. I’ve carved most every day for several weeks, indicating to me that my new motivation might just be “kicking” in.

There; I hope we’re all on the same page. As I always like to say and think, “we’re all in this together“!

Happy birding and carving,   Bill

Bald Eagle #3

Bald Eagle #3


*Time to Get Busy

June Prepping for her Demo in Middletown

June will be presenting her Seminar/Demo at theMVWC  Middletown, OH Woodcarving Show tomorrow. I will be one of three Judges who will Judge the Carving Competition today.  The Show is at the Christ Methodist Church just off Grand Ave. which is off of S.R.122.  We saw many of our Carving Friends at last night’s “Exhibit Set-Up”.  Come and see us today or tomorrow. Our old friend Johnny Wilkens and Gertrude will be there with his bird-carvings. He has a beautiful American Kestrel that he has just finished. We saw the “Woodbee Carver”, Don Mertz last night and our friends Don and Jan Ward. Seeing our friends is the real “Gold” we’re there to mine. It always sparkles.  Next Saturday will commence our Spring Class which is the Bluejay. The first class I ever taught was the Bluejay in 1988. Johnny Wilkens and Bernie Bice convinced me to try teaching.  That happened to be my first year as a wood-carver. How time flys when you’re having fun. On that note, next month will be our 50th Wedding Anniversary. She’s a winner.

Happy birding and Carving,  Bill

Bald Eagle #3

Bald Eagle #3

*Meet Marilyn Gulker

Marilyn Gulker, Mr. G.B.H & Bill

Marilyn Gulker, Mr. G.B.H & Bill

Marilyn Gulker& June painting the Great Blue Heron
Marilyn Gulker& June painting the Great Blue Heron


Marilyn Gulker & June


 Some time ago at a Woodcarving Show, Marilyn Gulker saw our exhibit and picked-up one of our cards. Her husband Bill was also a woodcarver who  passed away a few years ago.  Bill was very acomplished as a carver and was just geting into “Power” carving and even “Airbrush” painting. He liked to carve many things which included birds. He left Marilyn with his collections of tools, basswood, woodcarving magazines and a host of finished & unfinished woodcarvings. She brought a few of each of the woodcarvings with her on her visit to das Hamonhaus yesterday. I was gifted  by her with a basswood-blank for a “Bass:”! That’s a “FISH” you know. I guess stranger things have happened to me which altered my wood-carving in diferent ways. “IF”,I ever carve that fish!  Please, someone, let me know what the “Best”  book is on the subject and any other helpful fish-carving tips. The other “Bird Carver’s” would make fun of me, etc. Remember what happened to Master Bird Carver Buell Burns when the same thing befell him! He became Master Fish Carver Buel Burns.Great Blue Heron (l/s) by: Bill & Marilyn Gulker

Anyway, Marilyn, who lives in Ottawa, OH, had recently contacted June to investigate the possibilities of getting some professional help in getting one of Bill’s carvings  painted. She had promised it as a gift to her brother in Oregon. (I now suspect that he might not actualy get to take delivery for a few or more years )  It happens to be a beautifully (carved by Bill)  full-sized Great Blue Heron. Marilyn came prepared to learn and to work. She assisted June , side by side, for over 10 hours to get the job done. (Better her than me) It turned out so well that I’m contemplating the same project for myself. You be the judge!

Great Blue Heron (l/s) by: Bill & Marilyn Gulker

Happy birding and carving,  Bill & June


*Bird Painting Issues

june-paints-owl Left: Here’s June, the Paintmeister at das Hamonhaus, painting one of Bill’s many Owls that she’s painted since taking up bird-painting in 1988. Actually, she’s painted all of the birds that I’ve carved including the Cardinal carved in my “Beginner’s” Class in 1988. June was a graduate of a two-year course of study at Cincinnati’s Central Commercial Art Academy and, an accomplished artist,  long before I took up woodcarving in 1988. At her suggestion, I looked into and enrolled in a beginner’s class in woodcarving in Dayton, OH. During my earliest lessons, she commented to me to “not” expect her to paint my birds. In class, I was in the process of carving a bird. I replied that “it had not entered my mind to ask for her assistance”. I had been a credible artist all during my school days too; doodling, drawing cartoons, etc.  However; she accompanied me to the final beginner’s Session#10, which was to paint the Cardinal. Her curiousity had gotten the better of her and she had decided to come along with me and observe the class. My version of this tale, is that she interrupted me, just as I was about to touch paint-to-bird for my very first time, by saying “let me see that”. I meekly handed bird & brush to her and gave her my seat at the paint-table. She had observed that the instructor of the paint class was a bit heavy-handed in her technique and knew she could do better. So, here we are over twenty years later and she’s still at the paint-table and I’ve, never as yet, painted a bird. This is our story and we’re sticking to it. Several months later, I was prevailed upon by fellow students to teach a class myself (10 weeks-free) on carving a Bluejay. I protested but did give in to teach the class. At the end of the ten-weekclass, June pitched in to teach them to paint the carving. Hence, we have continued in like manner, lo these many years. All of the above occured during our first year as Wildfowl Artists, 1988.

carving-class-2005-009Left: June teaching at her workshop in KY. Long before we came along, over two hundred years ago in fact, Hunters hunted wild game as a means to earn their livings; shooting animals and game-birds for their own provisioning as well as to sell to food markets and restaurants, hotels, etc.  A few of the hunters learned (probably from the Indians) that they could shoot more ducks and geese by utilizing floating decoys to draw-in the flocks from the air. The decoys would be roughly hewn from wood to resemble the birds flying overhead. The flocks would alight on the water nearby to the floating decoys and be “bagged” by the hunters. Basically, the carved decoys were “chopped” with a hatchett-like tool called an “Adze”. With practice, the hunters chopping these decoys from rough wood developed a form of production line by shaping the decoy with the adze and tossing it onto a nearby pile. Their spouse would dab dark pitch tar or paint to resemble eyes, add a coat of varnish and place them on another pile nearby to dry. The hunter/carver would finish the process by attaching the keels, weights, kleats and  rope with which they became a “string of decoys”. Some hunters developed  reputations for excelling in the catving and manufacture of these decoys. Eventually  informal competitions ensued between the more talented in given areas; hence, “Decorative Wildfowl Carvings” was born. And so, here we are today! Speaking personally, I’ve not been tvery empted to “do” ducks! I feel that there are Duck Carver’s galore and too few who can carve a decent Eagle!  My whole point of this yarn, is about the wife’s role in the process. For over several centuries now, it’s a sub-tradition in woodcarving of all genres; maybe, especially in birds for the spouses to collaborate on the carvings, involving often, the wife as paint-artist and the husband as carver. It would be even more widespread, I opine, if men carvers had more influence over their better halves.     Since there exists today, so many couples who do this, I was finally prompted to pose this pseudo-issue to a world-class bird carver/judge/teacher/author, last year. His response was that, as a Judge, he has no problem with it. His criteria is that the “same team” remains consistant and that a special (ringer) painter, not be brought in to assist just for a competition. He mentioned that this situation is not unusal at all. It has regulary occured in the World Championships, as well as “everywhere” else! 

Happy birding and carving,  Bill


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