Collin Clough is shown with some of his pieces of art.

GRAND RAPIDS — Collin Clough, the featured carver at the 12th annual Bill Green Fish Decoy Show which is set for Saturday, Nov. 30, said the show’s namesake was a master carver.

Clough, a noted area carver from Grand Rapids, said Green was a well-known carver in the area and that the show is aptly named. He said the show is fun for him in the years that he has attended it and that he really enjoys the crowd – which has prompted him to attend two other shows in Alexandria and Perham.

“Bill Green carved around here longer than probably anybody,” Clough said. “I heard his name before I ever started carving. The group of people that come there are different from the other shows that I do. The people that carve there, they are so interested in their sport and people will see a wide variety on spearing. It is mainly focused on spearing northerns. They asked me to come to the show a few years ago and I have enjoyed it ever since.”

The show is slated for Nov. 30, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Grand Rapids Timberlake Lodge. Admission is $2 with children 16 and under admitted free.

Hundreds of decoys will be at the event with 40 decoy makers present. There will be swim decoys, spears, ice saws, and jig sticks available to buy, sell or trade. There will be silent auction items and free coffee. For more information, call 218-256-9108.

Clough, 77, grew up in central Illinois and he moved to Grand Rapids in January 1977. He said he started carving miniature things while living in Illinois, and then got away from it for a few years. Then in the early 1980s, he got back into carving and he said as luck would have it, in 1984 he got laid off from his job and he said it turned out to be a huge favor for him.

“A couple years before that I had started carving again and then some friends in Wisconsin wanted me to bring some of my carvings to a show there, and I sold all my carvings,” said Clough. “That was a good way to make a part of a living.”

Clough has also taught carving classes in Grand Rapids and Hibbing with his first one in 1984, and he taught three classes in Grand Rapids each year for about 25 years. He said he still occasionally will teach a class.

Clough said he made “half of a living” by selling his carvings throughout the years, and he said while he might not be a nationally-reknowned carver, he concedes that people do recognize him as a good carver.

“You have to have an interest in what you’re carving,” he explained. “You have to be patient and study what you are trying to carve. I mean, you can carve anything and your inward ability can limit what you can do but you normally surpass what you think you can do if you hold your interest to it.”

Clough said most carvers are very cautious and not fast at carving pieces. He said the more a person carves, the faster they can go.

“Speed is not the thing for most carvers. If you are carving to make part of a living at it, you have to get the time down to a point where you can make a few bucks per hour,” Clough explained.

Once the carving is done, then the painting comes next.

“Painting is a whole different art and it is one of the hardest things there is to learn,” Clough said. “Most carvers will take whatever time it takes to carve it, but they want to paint it in half the time. But you should take about as much time to paint it as you do to carve it.

“It takes a lot of practice to get the painting and blending down. Painting is a whole art of its own that you have to learn along with it. You do have to have some ability to get past a certain point and where you level off at is where you are half-satisfied at what you do.”

Clough said one will never get rich being a wood carver.

“You have to enjoy it and that is the main focus of your job,” he explained. “I have just been carving for so long and I have done so many different pieces that I have the time down where I can make a couple bucks an hour.”


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