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~my “fish whisperer” series, the “Sockeye” Salmon~

“Oncorhynchus nerka”

~a 42″ hand carving~

~my etsy site where I sell my carvings~

This Salmon is for me the most spectacular…its fierce looks, its incredible colors, and the whole story behind the sockeye and the cycle of this salmon’s spawn…its determination to reach the section of stream where it came alive itself…making it past natural and un-natural obstacles…from the deadly jaws and claws of Grizzly Bears…and of course anglers and those that want to harvest him for his delicious meat…

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~I make a special flexible mounting system for my fins~

when I was carving this fish I am reminded of a fossil I found last year doing a stone masonry job…one of an ichtyasaurus…the sockeye in the spawn has a eerily similar pre-historic look to it that the fossil of that ancient creature had too…

My carvings are my interpretation of creatures I love so much…they are not in the category of “scientific carving”, which is where every scale, fin, where every minute detail is measured with a micrometer…and judged for being incredibly perfect in every way…but no where near “kitsch” either…appearing quite lifelike from every angle. I would love to carve one for you!

~I am doing only 20 carvings of each species, signed and numbered~

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~I carve every one of the teeth by hand …the result is something pretty special~

every part my carvings are done 100% by hand, using a basic wood sculptors tools…chisels, gouges, spoke shaves, planes, scrapers and even my old “uncle henry”…the  calipers I use are the fingers on my hands…and the most advanced measuring device I have are my eye’s…

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~the sockeye carving prior to the applying of various finishes~

I try to make every carving as lifelike as possible, but never losing the hand made patina…tool marks, imperfections, being able to see the grain of the wood I made the carving from etc, are all my trademark…and quite frankly my favorite part of them all…many tell me this style makes them even more realistic…art is supposed to  imitate life!

I carved this salmon attempting to depict the color phase it experiences for a very short time at the peak of its spawn cycle. At the end of its life it returns to the headwaters where it was born, to spawn prior to it dying. It only stays in this state for a short while…with its  Jaws hooking and its normally gray & silver body turning an incredible red…this only lasts for a week or so before it spawns and eventually dies…not something altogether common in nature, but for me very noteworthy , and something I really wanted to attempt to copy. The “circle of Life” for this creature ends in a spectacular burst of glory!

I make this salmons eyes myself through a series of layers of clear  epoxy’s and pigments… buying the taxidermy style eyes would for sure be easier, but totally lose the effect I am trying to accomplish…the slightest change of angle can give the finished carving an entirely different look…plus rather than buying commercial items I always make things myself if at all possible.

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~just like my bamboo fly rods…these carved fish aren’t afraid of water~

I’m not trying to match the perfection of those fiberglass molded mounts out there…basically testing the skills of a good airbrush artist…where a fish is cast, then molded from fiberglass…then glueing on some pre cast fins, put in one of the manufactured glass eyes, and send it to the airbrush aficionado to do their thing…they become imperfect by virtue of the fact that only a living creature is that perfect…then there are the ones that look plastic and shine like a corvette…generally never leaving the new owner as happy as they thought they would be…

sometimes a sharp chisel and blade and a steady hand can do some beautiful things too…I rub more paint with my finger tips than any other method…and the scars of hand work are the reality and guarantee that human hands made this and not some plastic imitation…somehow in an age where everything is made of plastic, aluminum or carbon fiber its nice to know that there are still some old fashioned and more eco friendly things being created .

my art is an overflow of my life in nature…being a participant…either as an angler, hiker or basic explorer seeing new things in the creation for the first time…when my hands are carving or painting my work I feel a connection with all those experiences…

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~the type stain and pigments allows the beauty of the wood to show, and still give the colors from nature found on these fish~

I have the distinct benefit of having spent thousands of hours in my life fly fishing…for almost 50 years…most of those years just enjoying the art form of tricking a nice trout to take a fly I’ve tied myself…maybe even with a bamboo rod I made too…or in many cases assisting others to do the same working as a fly fishing guide in Colorado…which has allowed me to be a “real time” witness and participant in the world of these creatures I try to imitate…

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~fin details before finish applied~

I have always been an advocate of the practice of “Catch and Release” long before it was the cool thing to do…always taking a moment to look at the incredible design and colors of the wild fish I was catching…that short moment when our worlds came together…and trying to remember some of the details so I could somehow copy it in one of my carvings or paintings down the road…

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~I carve these finished on all sides to be viewed from any angle~

since the advent of digital cameras that has become even easier…if you take a peak at my “Indian Summer” road trip you will see what I mean…all pictures taken with my cell phone with one of those water jackets on it! I use them for a lot of help getting shapes and colors accurate…

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I make all my signed and numbered carvings(in a series of 20) on a custom order basis…I make them to hang, and  viewed from any direction or angle…I also make a series the same lengths, but more meant for a wall hanging application, with only 3 sides visible…the dorsal , tail, pelvic and pectoral fins are still fully carved…its just only one of the pelvic and pectorals…these are also listed on my etsy site.

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~I spend two days alone on just the teeth and eye details~

the carvings are anywhere from 40- 44 inches long, they weigh 18- 25 lbs…they are around 4 & 1/2″ thick( the three sider’s are 3″ thick)…they are hand painted and then sealed with 6 coats of a waterproof/uv  finish to make them durable and protected…

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~the initial design is for hanging 24-30″ below a ceiling or porch , but with proper additional rigging it can be hung down a lot farther , like in a cathedral ceiling etc~

I supply the hardware to either hang them or mount them on wall…housekeeping with these is as simple as taking them outside and spraying with a garden hose once or twice a year then blotting them dry with a towel …direct sunlight if left outdoors is the greatest culprit…maintaining the good UV protective finish is recommended for extended outdoor display.

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~this sockeye carving is in honor of a very special Native American friend,

and a very memorable to trip to Alaska 20 years ago~

~I would love to carve and paint one especially for you…wm~

~contact me if you have a special fish not on my list in this series…

if it swims I can carve it!

I also carve on special order extra large size trout and salmon…5-6 feet in length and 12″ wide…I do these for restaurants and fly shops etc…just contact me…