A world champion wood carver from Terrebonne Parish has a new masterpiece in the middle of his living room. Curtis Fabre has finished work on a life-sized bald eagle, a project that he started eight years earlier.
When he was growing up in the southern Louisiana bayou community of Montegut, making duck decoys was a way of life. Fabre remembers helping his father make the wooden decoys for hunting in the lakes and marshes near their home. Fabre recalls, “when it came off the bandsaw there was still corners that needed to be cut off. I would take a hatchet and do that.” But it wasn’t until years later, when he was working in the oilfields, that a friend showed him a quality duck carving. Fabre was impressed, “I had never seen anything so beautiful in all my life.”
wood carver learns from the best
Fabre says he befriended master wood carver Andrew “Tan” Brunet from Galliano, Louisiana. Brunet guided Fabre as he became more interested in carving. Fabre also started selling carving supplies and would bring a trailer full of goods to sell to other wood carvers at competitions around the country. Tupelo is a favorite wood of duck decoy carvers. Tupelo trees grow abundantly in Louisiana swamps. Fabre says the bell-shaped bottom of the tupelo tree is perfect for carving. “It’s light as a feather,” Fabre explains, and he adds, “when you’re cutting that wood, it purrs.” Fabre has color-coded blocks of tupelo wood stacked in a storage shed behind his home.
wood carver tips for creating feathers
from duck decoys to bald eagle
Fabre has won multiple national and world bird carving championships, including “best in show”. He has been a regular participant in the Ward World Championship in Salisbury, Maryland. But perhaps his most impressive carving is a life-sized bald eagle. The 93-year old says he got his inspiration for the eagle while on a fishing trip in Minnesota. Fabre spotted an eagle in a tree above where he was fishing, “just looking down at me.” He recalls that the eagle stayed there for an hour before flying away. “That was the first and only time I’d ever seen an eagle,” said Fabre. He used a life-sized photograph of a bald eagle as a guide for carving his own out of wood.