The Duck Blind Classes
Willy McDonald has
been teaching decoy carving since the doors of the Duck Blind opened
in 1989. Willy's natural ability as a teacher came to light as more
and more students signed up for carving classes. His aptitude for
breaking down the carving process into easy to understand steps has
brought praise from every division of the carving society. From
adult education classes at Michigan State University to private
seminars across the country, Willy McDonald is sought after for
Carving, Painting and Air Brush education.
classes are available on DVD which means that carvers can learn the
process from the comfort of their own shop. Many hundreds of folks
got their start with Willy's guidance and many of them went on to be
Blue Ribbon and Best of Show Winners in contests all over the
country. For many of the students the greatest reward was just
hunting over their own hand carved decoys. What ever carving career
path you want to follow it all starts with a good foundation and
that is precisely what the The Duck Blind classes are designed to
If you are interested in holding a class in your area contact
Willy McDonald at The Duck Blind 1-800-852-7352 for information.
Click Here to Jump
to the Endorsements from Willy's Graduates
2014 Class Schedule
Carve and Paint a Drake Cinnamon Teal
Dates: January 24,25,26, 2014
Place: W K Kellogg Bird Sanctuary
Hickory Corners, Michigan (Kalamazoo Area)
Willy McDonald, Honored by the National
Endowment for the Arts as a Master Carver and instructor. Best of
Show awards include: ODCCA Shootin Stool Contest, North American
Decoy Championship, Northwestern Michigan Decoy Show, New Orleans
“Best in the Gulf” Championship, Ward Foundation's “Chesapeake
Challenge” and the 2007 Michigan Heritage Award.
Class Term and Hours:
Three Day Class (2 carving 1 painting)
Fri, Sat, & Sun- 9am to 5pm each day
$265 per Student (includes Cutout, Pattern, Glass Eyes)
Fee also includes lunch, beverages and Di's Cookies and snacks all
On site KBS housing is available at a very reasonable rate for out
of town students. Contacts us for info.
Minimum of 8 Students and Maximum of 12.
If the minimum is not met, all deposits will be refunded.
To carve and paint a true hunting decoy from cork and basswood.
Class will include all aspects of a hunting decoy, including:
Carving, Texturing, Painting & Sealing, Keel making, and Weighting.
Methods learned in this class can be used to make Hunting Decoys,
Decorative Smoothies for Competition, or Natural finish decoys.
This class is designed and taught with the beginning student in
mind and instruction is step by step to solidify a good carving and
painting foundation. Experienced carvers wishing to reinforce or
brush up on carving and painting techniques are welcome.
Drake Cinnamon Teal
Tools and Carving Methods
Carving will be accomplished primarily using hand tools but
WeCheers, Foredoms and like machines will be welcome in class and
students may choose carving method of their preference. Students
will provide all tools and paints for the project. Tools and paint
supplies will be available for sale during class. Cash, Checks, and
Credit cards will be accepted for class sales.
A deposit of $100 is required to reserve your place in class
with balance due the day of the class. Cancellations and refunds can
be made up to 14 days before start of class. Class deposits should
be sent to The Duck Blind, PO Box 706, Delton, Mi. 49046. You can
also use you Visa, Master Card, or Discover for your class fee.
To Reserve Your
Spot or for Questions
Contact: The Duck Blind at 1-800-852-7352
Endorsements from Duck Blind Grads
The Duck Blind…..or
as I’ve called it for years, The Launch Pad! Ten years ago I was
just another duck hunter looking to get more out of an addiction,
what could I do to get even more out of every duck hunt I went on,
what hobby could I do the would last year round even after the guns
were oiled up, the boat put away and all the decoys were stuffed
back in the garage attic. A quick search of the internet landed me
at TheDuckBlind.com, where I found this guy named Willy had seminars
and taught classes of people how to carve and paint decoys.
My first seminar
was a road show for Willy and Di in a small town near Akron. Man was
that weekend an eye opener, for a guy to walk in there with not a
clue of any of these steps and to walk out 2 days later with a
greenhead decoy that could be hunted over, I was hooked! Over the
next few years I did a few more classes, either at the KBS, Westlake
or even at Willy and Ma's house, they always greeted me with open
arms and took care of my carving needs. So if you are thinking about
getting into this great hobby….don’t hesitate to launch yourself off
from The Duck Blind University!!
2006 BOS 6 Bird Rig (Westlake) 2008 3rd BOS Gunning Pairs (World
2007 BOS 3 Bird Rig (Lake Erie) 2010 BOS Gunning Pairs (World Show))
2008 BOS Single (Westlake) 2011 BOS Single (Lake Erie)
About three years
ago a friend of mine carved a decoy using Willy’s instructional DVD
on carving. I was amazed at how great the decoy looked for a first
attempt. My friend told me I should try carving but since I had
never been able to do anything in my life that was artistic I
declined. After being asked on several different days to try carving
I gave in and used the DVD to carve my first decoy, a redhead. I was
so proud of it I took it to the Westlake Decoy Show in Ohio and
entered it in the contest. Seeing that it was my first decoy it was
not surprising that it didn’t win any ribbons but it sure was fun to
compete. I went to a room where Willy was giving carving and
painting demonstrations several times that weekend and learned so
much from him.
The next year I
carved another redhead and a ringneck. Those second and third
attempts at carving using Willy’s DVD earned me a 2nd place ribbon
and an honorable mention (4th place) ribbon at Westlake. I couldn’t
believe it, because as I said earlier, I have no artistic talent
whatsoever. This past year I carved three more decoys and I won a
best of show in NY with a redhead and some other ribbons with my
ringneck. I still can’t believe what I have accomplished after only
carving a total of seven birds. I can honestly say if I had never
had Willy’s instructional DVD’s and classroom demonstrations I would
have never stuck with carving. I am a visual person and Willy’s
step-by-step instructions walk you through the process easily. I
tell every new carver I can that the best thing they can invest in
is Willy’s DVD because it speeds up the learning curve enormously.
Thanks Willy for all your help…I greatly appreciate it!!!
I decided to take a
DuckBlind carving class because I wanted a classroom type
instruction for my first attempt at decoy carving. I was not
disappointed. Willy's step by step process was clear and logical for
carvers of all skill levels. There was adequate time for both group
and individual instruction to get the concepts clearly understood
and accomplished before moving on to the next step. Add to this Di's
wonderful lunches, and the class is just a lot fun no matter what.
Actually, I enjoyed it so much, I took the class three years in a
row. I would recommend Willy's classes for anyone wanting to start
carving decoys, or simply to further develop their carving and
For all you carvers
out there who like to attend a very informative and excellent
teacher, you need to attend one of Willy's classes as there is so
much great information and you will learn the techniques to carve
and paint a great decoy. I have had the opportunity to attend a
couple of classes and would recommend to anyone to take a class and
you will be very happy that you did as Willy is world class
P.S. David's Drake Ringneck took first place at the 2011
Chesapeake Challenge contest.
Mr. Willy McDonald
of the Duck Blind is without a doubt, one of the best things to
happen to a decoy carver since the invention of the band saw.
Through his years of experience, infinite patience, and Master
Carver guidance I have been able to attain what until now, I only
dreamed of, a beautiful, functional, and practical duck decoy. More
importantly, I have gained the confidence and knowledge to make
Willy’s carving class, with his straight forward and easy to
understand style of instruction, lends itself to a deeper
understanding and appreciation of what it takes to transform
nature’s raw materials and turn them into a representation of
nature’s living essence.
You will see Willy’s smiling face, hear his words of encouragement,
and know that your hands, first guided by his, have allowed you to
join an ancient and honored clan. You will be “A Decoy Carver”.
Brian C. Ballard
In February of 2002, I took my first carving class with Willy
McDonald at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. I was very intimidated at
first, but Willy took the entire mystique out of carving. He has an
easy systematic approach to carving that will allow anyone to
pick up a knife and carve a decoy. My eyes were opened to a whole
new world of creativity. He taught me a set of skills that has
allowed me, to this very day; enjoy one of the true American folk
arts. I now carve, collect, and hunt over hand made decoys.
Willy has always been very generous with his time and expertise.
From 2006 to 2011, He and Di have traveled to my home three times in
Paducah, KY, and held classes for friends and family. Throughout his
career, he has helped hundreds in the waterfowling community reach
the goal of gunning over their creations!
Dr. Steven J. McCullough
When people ask me where I learned
to carve decoys, I always say "Willy McDonald at the Duck Blind". I
live in New Jersey, which has a great history of decoy carvers, but
I really didn't know any carvers at the time and so everything I
learned was from Willy's cyber classroom, questions he answered (he
even sent me a demo head for free) and my first 3 birds were his
cork Canvasback cutouts.
From there I learned the basics and then became friends with a
fellow carver in NJ who showed me how to work with cedar and I
learned a few more methods. A lot of people are curious about the
style that I carve, because it is neither Barnegat bay or Delaware
River style or even the Tuckerton school of carving, all of which
are what the majority of New Jersey carvers make. I consider my
style the Willy McDonald style, because that is where I learned the
basics. It is more contemporary than what is often seen in my area.
I would like to learn to carve some of the Jersey style birds, like
what Sean Sutton and Jode Hillman carve, but its so hard for me to
wander away from the style that I do and I really like my decoys.
They look like ducks on the water and I've had great success hunting
over my own decoys. I recently started selling them for the sole
purpose of getting money to buy more materials to keep carving! (It
gets expensive, that's the only reason I sell my decoys)
Here is the first decoy I carved. This was the beginners carving kit
from the duck blind. It came with all the knives I needed, the cork
and basswood cutouts, surform rasp, glass eyes and even sand paper.
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