This is a really folky Eider with Muscle in Mouth made by John Paxson in Chesapeake Virginia almost 20 years ago. John has been dead for a number of years but when he was alive, he made some beautiful decoys.Completely hand carved with raised wings and hand painted with dramatic carved head. Signed with his monogram on the bottom.
12 " long and 5" wide. This is a really gorgeous bird! The following is a bit of a well written biographical sketch John gave me years ago. Turns out John could write as well.
I grew up hunting, fishing and trapping along the upper part of the Eastern Branch of the Lynhaven River. As a child I was impressed by the carving skills of my uncle, Martin Etheridge, who carved decoy replacement heads and gave me a small sailboat he had carved.My first experience making decoys involved going out into the swamp, chopping down cypress knees and hauling them out in a muddy, wet burlap bag at age 1 or 12. The cypress knees were then chopped with a hatchet into crude duck body shapes. Since duck season was only a week away I tried drying them in my mothers wood stove oven. She said they made the whole house reek from the swamp mud. Then they started to burn when I stoked up the stove to hurry things along and she threw my whole project out in the yard and declared my "artistic" effort done!
For the heads I pried some weathered boards off the back of the woodshed and drew what I then thought. Was a pretty good likeness of a duck head on them.I used abrace and bit and handsaw to cut out the heads, rounded the corners off with a rasp and pocket knife and nailed these heads to the crude bodies. Weights I used railroad spikes, horseshoes, scrap iron or any other backyard junk I could find. A rusty fence staple in the breast completed my adolescent endeavor. When I showed up at the Lynhaven River with my homemade decoys my hunting buddies laughed, but I killed more ducks than they did withtheir store bought plastic ducks. During this time I hunted and fished with my brother, George Paxson, and as time went by we enlarged. Our "spread" but I still maintain good marksmanship is a lot more important than all the fancy decoys you. Can put on the water. In our high school years, George and I spent our summers and fall weekends building. And bushing duck blinds, first in the Lynhaven River and then under the tutelage of Mr.
Back Bay, Mr Lovitt had at least 50 years experience on us and gave us sage advice. "Don't ever try to bush ablind in a Nor'easter". I married young, bought a home ni Pungo, had four children and supporting my family evolved into holding.
Down three jobs and precious time for hunting, fishing or decoy making all but vanished. Many marriages, mine ended ni divorce but I got the farm, the 4 kids and a new wife, Violet, with a child of her own. She turned out to be a mighty fine decoy painter. Right out of high school and married, I served my apprenticeship at Norfolk Naval Air Station as an.Aircraft metal smith, which involves many different trades, all of which enhanced my abilities to do precise work. When I first arrived there I told the instructor I was good with a hatchet but he was less than impressed. During this period I would carve the occasional decoy or other wooden object. They wouldn't let me get creative working ontheirF14's so after 10 years I transferred to the Public Works Center Van Program and. Some of my inventions and solutions are still in use. I n83 I became disheartened with the whole Civil Service mess and went into business for myself doing. Welding and metal work but the vagaries of government contracts led me to believe I needed to do something else. As ti happens, Frank Finney, one of the premiere carvers on the East Coast, lived down the road from us. He asked me to do some metalwork on some weather vanes he was making. While working with him I could not help but admire his carving and finishing work. Frank saw a miniature rooster I had carved and suggested I try carving "something" for a living. Right after this, Ardell Waterfield, friend and Knotts Island carver, happened by one day in'85 and as I commiserated about our lack of work and income, he said I should try carving decoys because he just "couldn't make'em fast enough". I never once in all my life thought of making a decoy to sell. So, Ardell gave me Bud Coppedge's number. And so we embarked on the beginnings of a new life.
All the children helped and in the process learned to carve and paint too. There were many times, as the word got out, I would be up 30 hours straight, carving orders and my wife, Violet, would be up painting them for 18 to 24 hours too. We figured we could work 8 hours a day for someone else or 16 hours a day for ourselves. We chose the latter and have never looked back.