Heart of Louisiana: Eagle Carver
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A world champion duck decoy carver from Terrebonne Parish has a new masterpiece in the middle of his living room. It’s a life-sized bald eagle.
Curtis Fabre has lived most of his life along by Bayou Terrebonne. He was born in Montegut 93 years ago. And that’s where he first learned about making duck decoys from his father.
“When it came off the band saw, there was still corners need to be cut off. And I take the hatchet and do that. That was my first involvement in carving decoys,” said Fabre.
But it wasn’t until years later when he was working in the oil field that a workmate showed him a quality duck carving.
“I had never seen anything so beautiful in all my life,” said Fabre.
He befriended a few master duck carvers and started traveling to national carving competitions, selling supplies. It turns out that some of the best wood for carving comes from the bell-shaped bottom of Tupelo trees, which are quite common in south Louisiana.
“And it’s still light as a feather. And it’s you’re in your own heaven when you’re cutting on that wood,” said Fabre.
Fabre has won multiple championship bird carving contests, even best in show. He says each bird carving takes one to two months working eight hours a day.
When asked what inspires him and how he decides what he will carve, Fabre says, “And I look at competition birds, and I admire ‘em and I said, I’d like to carve one like that. That’s probably like I do.”
The inspiration for his most challenging piece came on a fishing trip in Minnesota.
“And all of a sudden I looked up in that tree there that was that Eagle, just pushed above and looking down at me. And I stayed there an hour fishing until finally, it got away. That was the first and only time I’d ever seen an eagle,” said Fabre.
A friend sent him a life-sized picture of a Bald Eagle that became his blueprint.
Even the tree root base is a work of art. It’s carved from blocks of wood.
“I took it and I sawed it, made some little gouges into it to be able to make these pieces where we might have had broken roots, broken branches. But the hardest part was to head, trying to capture that Eagle look,” said Fabre.
This Eagle stares right at you with an intense, powerful gaze.
“It’s the most relaxing therapy in the world. You just, you’re working and you’re trying to just compete with what the good man above makes. You know, you’ll never get that softness like feathers and stuff like that. You can try all you want, but we come close to it. We come close to it,” said Fabre.
And creating beauty from a block of wood is how Fabre says he has been able to cope with some of the challenges he’s faced over the past 93 years.
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