It seems best to me to write the review of these books a bit differently than the usual "one book, one review" format I must, of necessity, usually employ. Yes, these are separate books, but they cover the same material in the same way-only the subjects differ.
These are very classy looking books. Both are hard cover with an enclosed spiral binding, which makes pattern copying and painting directions much easier to accomplish. This binding allows the pages to lie flat instead of spending an hour of your time pushing down against the spine of the book in your efforts to see each page.
Both books were originally printed by Stackpole Books, so what we have here are actually revised and updated versions of the 1990 version of Bruce Burk's Volume 1 "Decorative Decoy Designs" and Volume 2, "Diving Ducks".
Paint charts showing the Grumbacker Oil Paint colors Burk in painting the projects are inside the front and back covers of both books. Burk is of the "mix your own colors" school, so you don't need a bottle or tube of every color you'll be using on the decoys you'll chose to make. Just mix the colors as directed and you should be in good shape on that score.
The books begin with a "Getting Started" chapter that includes some basic information on duck decoys, duck anatomy, paint mixing, etc., and a few good photographs of real ducks in various poses.
Now the books move directly into the projects. There are many different kinds of ducks included with a separate chapter for the male and the female of each species with the exception of American and Barrow's Goldeneye hens. Those birds look so much alike that only the males of the species seem to be able to tell the difference.
Each duck sex and species chapter begins with several photos of ducks in various poses.
The next facing pages contain the paint patterns, and following that, the next set of facing pages show full body and head patterns. Many pattern paged also contain foot patterns for the foot attitude of the featured duck.
In the main, the directions given are for producing a pretty fancy decoy. Yes, the book title says "Decorative" and I guess I should have realized that anything made using directions in these books was definitely never going to be tossed into a toe sack and end up with some shot gun pellets in his body!
These books are well done and the spiral binding is a huge plus in making the material easy to use.
Decoy carvers who lucked out on obtaining the first editions of NWCA member Bruce Burk's books "Decorative Decoy Designs" will be delighted to learn they are back in print with new format and titles. Series one, "Dabbling and Whistling Ducks", and series two, "Diving Ducks", have been changed to an 8 " x 11" hardcover with hidden spiral binding. When open, the width of the new books is sufficient to accommodate the life-size color patterns and drawings.
Except for the first printing of "Decorative Decoy Design", Vol. 1, which was a bound hardcover book, the other books in the popular series were spiral bound. These large (12" x 18") books were fragile, excessively flexible, hard-to-handle, and difficult to store. Te new "user-friendly" compact books eliminate all these problems and when open, also lie flat for ease of being traced.
The many referenced live-bird photos used in these books have been rescanned with the latest digital equipment to give crisper, more accurate color. As an added bonus, color photographs of both decorative and hunting decoys by the top carvers of the country have been added.
Bruce Burk ranks among the master bird carvers in the country and is responsible for getting thousands of other carvers started. In 1954, he taught himself bird carving and has been carving professionally since 1960. He is the author of numerous books.