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Simon Gray, a Director at Isca Barum, has an interesting hobby which calls for a tremendous amount of attention to detail, not to mention great care – qualities that he also brings to his clients at Isca Barum!
In his spare time Simon enjoys wood carving!
He was recently commissioned by The Georgian House Framing and Gallery of Ottery St Mary to craft this beautiful pair of Tufted Ducks.
Simon’s interest in ducks goes right back to childhood bird watching trips to the north Norfolk coast.
Simon said: “Trying to convey a natural-looking representation is a really challenging exercise, and it is only by continual visualisation that a realistic sculpture can be successfully created.”
He works from photographs and the whole project can be proportioned from one measurement: from the centre of the bird’s eye to the tip of its beak. He then makes a plan drawing for both a side view and from above.
Working from a block of lime wood, a variety of hand and power tools are used to initially rough out the shape of the body. Once the duck’s shape has been achieved, the individual feathers are drawn on and then carved. For maximum strength, the head of the duck is carved separately and attached later.
Prior to painting, each feather is burnt using a pyrograph, so that when the six or seven coats of translucent acrylic paint are added, some is left in the grooves adding to the realistic texture of the completed duck.
Each life sized duck takes Simon between forty and fifty hours work – a level of dedication that is also seen by his clients at Isca Barum.

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