Wood turns life-like at annual Columbia Flyway Wildlife Show

Carvers bring out stunning realism in birds, other wildlife

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Vancouver's Don Baiar was the chairman of the show's 27th year. He is with the Vancouver Feather & Quill Carvers.

Columbia Flyway Wildlife Show:

columbiaflywaywildlifeshow.com

Columbia Flyway Wildlife Show:

columbiaflywaywildlifeshow.com

They look real, take dozens of hours to craft and will cost you if one is destined for your mantle.

More than 400 people took in the Columbia Flyway Wildlife Show over the weekend in Vancouver.

It was the show’s 27th year, and visitors marveled at the precision of these ducks, fish and wildlife creations.

“The quality of the work in this show is world-class,” said Darrell Wilson, who traveled from Calgary, Alberta, to display his pair of great horned owls, one 20 inches tall and the miniature just 6 inches. He walked away with the People’s Choice award on Sunday. “Lots of patience. Lots and lots,” Wilson said of taking wood and turning it into a startlingly realistic owl.

The show offered more than 250 works from 76 artists from 14 states and three Canadian provinces.

Afton Coppedge, 25, of Milwaukie, Ore., was at the show to support her dad, James Coppedge, who entered an owl.

“I think it’s amazing,” she said of the creations. “It’s unbelievable that people have this level of talent.”

The show was at the Water Resources Education Center on the Columbia River, and Coppedge called it “a lovely venue.”

While some of the works stood nearly 21/2 feet tall, there was fascination with the small.

Gary De Cew, 60, of Anaheim, Calif., took first place in the mini floating decoy division. He used tupelo, a wood found throughout the South, to craft his hen pintail duck. If you want to buy the little beauty, “I’d ask for $500,” he said.

Those hollowed out mini-ducks were floated

during the show, and each needed to be able to right itself.

“I’ve been carving since 1988,” De Cew said, He is a former Los Angeles County deputy sheriff.

He said he makes his patterns and studies photos of birds on the Internet. He also owns a “study skin” of a duck, helping him be precise with details.

While birds were everywhere, some artists carved fish, and there was a buffalo and a moose.

Show chairman Don Baiar of Vancouver is with the Vancouver Feather & Quill Carvers. He said he worked “a couple hundred hours” on his pair of American widgeon ducks. He carved the 7-inch drake from tupelo gum wood and the 5-inch hen out of bass wood.

“I started carving birds in about 1980,” Baiar, 70, said. “It’s very relaxing” He uses hand tools, power tools and wood-burning tools.

“You contour each feather,” he said, pointing to the drake. “I use a high-speed grinder. They’re like a dental tool. You have to burn one little feather, a barb at a time.”

Asked what the two widgeons would cost to own, Baiar replied, “$4,500. That’s cheap.”

And in September 2014, the show will be back in Vancouver.

Dave Kern: 360-735-4534 or dave.kern@columbian.com