The Bird Whittler
From an early age I have had a love of watching birds and wildlife,
I often sat for hours watching the birds out of the back window of the house. I can remember building my first bird table and waiting with excitement to see which bird came to feed on the bread. Sparrows and starlings were always the first.
Back then I used to make my own nut fat feeders and had the disapproving look from Mum because of the mess (as for today I buy it off the shelf) but it was all worth it when a colourful bird landed on the feeder. Then came the excitement of identifying the visitor, the Observer book was never close to hand and by the time I had returned the bird had flown. I visited local woods and saw birds like woodpeckers, kestrels, pheasants, birds of the tit family and nuthatches, to name a few. I read useful articles in the Y.O.C Young Ornithologist Club magazines, and later joined the RSPB, this kept my passion alive.
Many years later my love of nature and bird life led me to meet a man who carved birds as a hobby. This was when the love of wood and birds came together. He told me I could also do bird carvings with the right wood and tools and sent me off with a block of wood and his expensive tools and a finished article to copy.
Using the chisels did not come naturally to me, so the following day I held the block in my hands and looked at it and without thinking took up Stanley knife and started to whittle away at the piece. Hours later the whittled bird was done to my satisfaction. I then took the bird back and was told I had made a good job but now I would have to buy my own chisels. He was astonished when I told him I had done it with a knife and asked me to show him. He was a little put out that he had spent so much on tools and I had done the same job with a Stanley knife.
After achieving the self-taught craft of bird whittling I strove to bring the bird to life by painting detailed feather work in accurate colours on the bird blocks. I regard the painting as just as important as the whittling. I have studied many species both in the wild and in photographs. I am now able to whittle a block of wood and paint it to make it look truly life like.