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In the spotlight today: Jode Hillman of Hillman Decoys

Progression of a suitcase style Turkey that Jode has recently completed.

Jode, How Did You Get Started?

My love of the outdoors started at and early age. Drawn by the woods and water near my home in southern New Jersey, fishing and hunting became a natural extension of these interests. Likewise, a passion for woodworking was also a large part of my early life. I started working in my father's cabinet shop at the age of 12. As time went by I would merge these interests with a growing fascination of old decoys and begin to produce my own gunning decoys. A tradition I continue to this day.

Did You Have Any Mentors or Formal Training?
I was influenced and mentored by local NJ carver Sean Sutton. Sean took me under his wing early in my carving career and showed me the basics, but always encouraged me to forge my own style. Something that has served me well as I set out on my own. I largely carve in the regional "Delaware River Style" but have tried to blend this with my own personal flair, if you will. I draw alot of my inspiration from master carvers of days gone by. Belonging to the NJDCA allows me to see and handle some of the finest decoys ever made, most residing in private collections.

Can You Share Some of Your Techniques?
I do the lion's share of my carving with old, but very useable hand tools. For painting I choose the traditional approach once again. My decoys are hand painted, by brush, using only the finest quality oil paint. Oil produces a luster and patina unmatched by any other media. This traditional approach has worked well, with my decoys growing in desirability and value with each passing year.

Where Can We Learn/See More?
I teach two classes a year at the Tuckerton Seaport Museum, one in the fall and one in the winter. I've won a bunch of awards over the years, if your interested you can see a full rundown on my website. www.hillmandecoys.com

Any Words of Advice?
I think most important is the ability to always challenge yourself as a carver and artist. Don't be afraid to try something new. Just because you haven't seen anyone else doing it doesn't mean it's a bad idea. Actually it's probably the BEST idea.

Jode's work has been highlighted in an article by Allen Linkchorst in the MAY/JUNE 2006 issue of "Decoy Magazine," multiple issues of "Hunting and Fishing Collectibles Magazine," on the 2006 NJ Waterfowl stamp, as well as in public and private collections around the world.

Want to See More Photos of Jode's Work?
Click Here

We are always looking for carvers to highlight. Do you know of a carver that we should highlight? Or maybe you would like to be highlighted. Please let us know. info@deepwoodsventures.com

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