This exquisitely hand carved and hand painted rainbow trout was made by my Dad.
He begins each carving with a pattern. Sometimes the pattern is a tracing of an actual fish, other times a picture that he’s printed. He traces around the pattern onto a block of wood, in this case cedar. He traces the top view and the profile and then cuts these into separate pieces with a band saw. Once the main pieces are cut, he glues them back together with a few drops of hot glue. They have to be cut separately in order to get that real-life shape complete with curves. The excess pieces that are cut away from the main body he saves and uses to make the pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins. These fins are glued on just before painting. The dorsal fins and tail fin are part of the main structure.
In the picture of the tail above, or if you click on the image below you might notice the tiny indentations along the entire body that look like real scales. These are made with the knurled end of a small hammer that he presses into the wood.
When the fish is ready to paint, he starts with a base layer of white paint. This is followed by yellow, light green, and the red rainbow strip which are painted on with an air brush. The black spots and any touch-up details are done by hand.
The eyes are glued into place as one of the final steps. Last of all, the completed fish is mounted on a branch, limb, or interesting piece of driftwood. He uses the dremel tool to make a thin slot in the bottom of the fish. A thin wire is inserted into this slot, and into the piece of wood on which the fish is mounted.
He also makes spearing decoys.The process is much the same, but with less detail and the dorsal and pelvic fins are made of metal. Spearing decoys also require weight to make them sink and turn when placed in the water, so two holes are drilled in the bottom and filled with molten lead. Look out Oscar Peterson!
If you’re interested in getting started on your own fish you might want to check out www.fishcarver.com for instructional videos and materials. Once you get really good, maybe you could join the Fish Carvers Guild! Check them out a www.thenfcg.com.