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.
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.
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.
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
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.
to See More Photos of Jode's Work?
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. email@example.com