Artist takes wing through carvings

HUNTINGTON The Birds of Vermont Museum in Huntington continues to add new carvings to their already extensive bird-carving collection. The most recent carving completed is especially notable because it is master woodcarver Bob Spears largest and most complicated carving. Spears Wild Tom Turkey is life-size and took him over 1,230 hours to complete. The carving is made up of over 45 pieces of wood and each tail feather is a separate piece of wood. Spear was born in 1920 in Burlington. In his youth his parents encouraged him to explore the world of nature around him. His early years were spent in Massachusetts where his family moved when his mother was unable to find a teaching job in Vermont. She found work in Wyben, teaching in a one-room school house, and Bob was her student for 6 years. Bob drew and painted as a youngster and even learned to do taxidermy by age 12. After his mothers untimely death when Bob was just 14, the family moved back to Vermont to the family farm in Colchester. Here he continued his self-education as a naturalist, specializing in birds. Here too, at age 18, Bob carved his first birds modeled after a stray parakeet that flew into their shed, and has now been carving birds for 66 years. Spears newest apprentice is museum curator Ingrid Brown; she recently completed a herring gull carving. The gull can be seen in the museums wetland diorama. Both woodcarvers continue to create new birds. Brown is currently working on Vermonts largest gull, the great black-backed gull. Spear is currently working simultaneously on a pied-billed grebe and a cattle egret. The museum is open (10-4 daily May 1Oct 31). To see the woodcarvers in action visit the Museum on Sunday afternoons from 1-3 p.m. for a carving demonstration.

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