News / Arts & Entertainment

Artist Uses Special Skills to Create Wood 'Fan Birds'

Artist Uses Special Skills to Create Wood 'Fan Birds' i
X
Zulima Palacio
July 18, 2012 7:02 PM
Cedar fan birds are not considered fine art but still they require skill and artful hands. These birds carved from wood have deep roots in Europe of the past when men, traveling far from home, sat around at night, carving and telling stories. VOA's Zulima Palacio tells us about Jeff Jacobs, a carpenter, who is now spending more time following his dream.
TEXT SIZE - +
Zulima Palacio
Cedar fan birds are not considered fine art, but still they require skill and artful hands. The birds carved from wood have deep roots in Europe of the past when men, traveling far from home, sat around at night, carving and telling stories.

Jeff Jacobs has been a carpenter for more than 30 years. Now, he spends much of his time on his hobby: carving birds from a block of wood without a drop of glue.  A Michigan logger taught him how to do it 25 years ago.  

Jacobs requires a few things: wet wood, mostly white cedar; a good initial cut of the bird’s profile; patient carving that gives shape to what look like feathers and then, his least favorite part - sanding.  After sanding, he concentrates on the feathers.  

“This is the critical part, this is where you realize you got a nice bird or you wasted your time,” said Jacobs.  

As many as 50 slices of wood could emerge from a small block. But before the slices become feathers, Jacobs wets the wood for at least an hour.

Once it's soaked, he begins to fan the wings and weave them.  If there are enough slices, Jacobs will make a tail. Once the bird is dry, Jacobs dips it in lacquer.

Jacobs takes the birds to flea markets where he explains the process of making traditional fan birds and he sells each one for about $50.

While other artists produce larger birds, flowers and figures, Jacobs sticks with small birds, mostly hummingbirds.  Although he's made several hundred, he's still intent on making more - making them perfect and able to fly… well almost.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Loknath Manaen from: Nepal
July 20, 2012 12:14 PM
This is interesting to watch. You sent me a bird 2 months back but I had no idea about the precision and care with which it is carved and given that beautiful shape. It hangs over our dining table and swings silently with the wind it feels often unknown to us. What a gift it is. And what a gift of hard, concentrated work to so many others I am sure. Thanks.
Lok & Rose


by: Deb Furlong from: Scottsdale, AZ
July 19, 2012 3:36 PM
Does Jeff Jacobs maintain a website. The wood birds that he makes are beautiful. I would love to buy one, but have no idea how I would go about doing that.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Saxophonist Craig Handy has an exciting new band called 2nd Line Smith, which combines the organ-jazz repertoire of Jimmy Smith with the “second line” rhythms of New Orleans parade music. Craig Handy joins "Beyond Category" host Eric Felten at Washington’s Bohemian Caverns jazz club to talk about the music and perform with the band.