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Al McCormick Goldeneyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes

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Al McCormick Goldeneyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes
All~


As a followup to the Al McCormick tribute at the March 7 LIDCA Show, a couple of old friends asked me to paint - for the first time - 2 Drake Goldeneyes they made with Al McCormick.






Al made tens of thousands of decoys - mostly with his "students" (gunners who wanted to make their own rigs under Al's tutelage). Note the classic McCormick-style flat keel.







I need to learn more of the back story. As it happens, I was given a couple of cartons of "in process" McCormick heads at the Show. One box contained these Whistler heads.






The keel extending beneath the black cork stern provides great structural support.






The keel was bored and countersunk for anchor lines both fore and aft. Were these my decoys, I would re-bore these holes to 5/16" to ease rigging.







I was surprised to find glass eyes. Most of Al's decoys had no (Black Duck, Brant, Canada Goose) eyes or painted eyes (Broadbill).






The galvanized finishing nail makes replacing the heads easier. It would be driven all the way through then pulled out entirely so the head + dowel could be removed and replaced.






First step was to seal with Satin Spar Varnish. The flat oil base coats for the "nuptial plumage" begins tomorrow morning.






Stay tuned.....


SJS



































Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


Last edited by:

Steve Sanford: Mar 27, 2020, 9:57 AM
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Re: Al McCormick Goldeyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
You are correct that Al always did 1/4" hole for the anchor line. He often did the fore and aft holes on divers. Where did you find the "Tolmie" bodies?



Joe
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Re: Al McCormick Goldeyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Steve

These decoy restorations of yours are fascinating. All the little details brought forth for our consideration. Bravo!

Eric
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Re: Al McCormick Goldeyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Joe~


Jim asked me to paint them when I saw him in Hauppauge. He and Martin are teamed up and mailed them to me. I believe they'll be sending me another pair of Whistlers - a Drake and a Hen.


I cannot wait to get out in the shop tomorrow morning!


All the best,


SJS





Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: Al McCormick Goldeyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Wow. That is great to hear. Jim has to be in his 80-s.

Joe
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Re: Al McCormick Goldeyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Good morning, Eric~


Glad you enjoyed this post. I purposefully made it a separate post, rather than burying it within the Workbench thread. My hope is that such topics will be found and enjoyed more readily by new readers/members. My commitment to keeping duckboats strong and growing.


More boat restorations in the near future - but I'll keep posting these briefer topics to help the cause.


All the best,


SJS

Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: Al McCormick Goldeyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Good morning, All~


Back from the shop. The stove is stoked and I put the base coat of White - Rustoleum Flat White - on the pair.


First job was a light sanding of the cured Spar Varnish, then marking the major areas with chalk. I used a Wildfowler I had restored several years ago - albeit with a Sanford paint scheme - as a reference.







I used the 2 smaller brushes.






The paint goes on quickly but carefully - coloring within the lines....






Note the location of the White spot - right behind the bill and lower than the eye. The White also encircles the neck but the head color dips lowest about mid-cheek - then rises slightly toward the back of the head.







The aft edge of the side pocket feathers is not round - as in most ducks - but tapers to a point. The speculum (wing patch) is the upper shape, the side pocket is the lower shape.







Nestled next to the stove to help the paint cure - and to let me put some Rustoleum Flat Black on later today (I hope).






All the best,


SJS



















Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: Al McCormick Goldeyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
 Well done Steve. I enjoy your instructional, makes it seem so easy. Keep em' up...
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Re: Al McCormick Goldeyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Nice to see these style of McComick's decoys. I've been wanting to post up some pictures of some of my decoys as you were doing the tribute at the show. I had a commitment that day but wanted to share the Canada goose sleeper Al made for me at my insistence. I have been working given that I'm an essential worker, but my Son is home from West Point so maybe he can help his Dad tackle the tech issue of posting pictures.
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Re: Al McCormick Goldeyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Another great tutorial! I always look forward to seeing your works in progress.Thanks for sharing Steve.
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Re: Al McCormick Goldeyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Good morning, All~


Thanks for the kind words.


The Rustoleum Flat Black base coat went on next.


I learned from the owner that the head pattern was by Charles Murphy. He sold box sets of decoy plans. The set I have has only 6 species - and not the Goldeneye.









I used a small brush around the cheek spots and some of the edges - and then a larger brush when I can.







The points on the tertials and side feathers are kept crisp.








A view from above.






The bottoms get Pettit 3303 - Dull Dead Grass duckboat paint - and then cure overnight by the stove.






All dry the next morning.






The White areas get their topcoat of Flat White latex - with small brushes in the detail areas and larger for most of the job.






BTW: The owner wants the cork texture showing - as do I.






Al McCormick filled the cork voids with a slurry of cork dust + polyurethane varnish. Such a coating can be brittle in hard use.






Getting close....


SJS



Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: Al McCormick Goldeyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Steve - I always enjoy reading your tutorials, thanks for sharing.


Great South Bay
West Sayville, N Y
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Re: Al McCormick Goldeyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
One of the things I enjoyed the most about making decoys with Al was how he stored and used paint brushes. He would not clean after use but instead let them harden up with dry varnish. On next use he would smash the brush with a hammer to loosen the bristles and then comb out the dried paint and broken bristles. When I suggested he clean them with thinner after use he scoffed and said the had been doing it this way for 40 years and then he would have to buy thinner.

I have goldeneyes with similar heads made by Jim Caramore. Might be the same pattern. I have the Murphy patterns and they are very well thought out and make attractive functional decoys.

Joe
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Re: Al McCormick Goldeyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Good morning, Joe~


Does Murphy have a low-head Whistler like these sawn-out blanks I got from Martin?






In any event, I will finish the pair later today.


Even though these decoys are gunners, I decided to add some color to the heads. I am mindful that Drake Whistler decoys were probably painted with nothing but Black and White - most likely Lamp Black and White Lead - for over a hundred years of very sucessful gunning. But, Shang Wheeler did put green on his famous "Turnback Whistler"....






I began the heads by mixing up a very dark green by adding Black to the color I use on the backs of Wood Ducks - Behr BROADWAY PPU 18-20. I painted the entire head save for the bill and the cheek spot.







I apply the highlights via stippling - using one of my old, beat-up China bristle flats and rounds I keep for this purpose. I used the round one for this job.





I then painted the highlight areas on the cheeks and brow with straight BROADWAY.






Here it is once dried.








Finally, I put a narrow band of a slightly brighter green - Behr PASTORAL PPU 10-20 - within the highlighted area. I think of the head contours as I would a topo map. The brighter paint goes on only the "highest" contours. And,I opted to NOT add a truly bright green to make the iridescence pop as I would on a Drake Mallard, for instance.






I will coat the bill with satin Spar when I am all done painting - so it can cure without me handling it.


All the best,


SJS













Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: Al McCormick Goldeneyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
All~


The home stretch - painting the feather details....


Every gunning paint scheme is an abstraction of the "true" conditions on the live bird. My style overrides some of the biology with a passion for order and curves.



I first developed this Whistler pattern in the early 80s. It has served as my corporate logo ever since.







I later applied it to a true gunner - with flat bottom, hard chines and a keel.







First, I painted the Black back and stern with Flat BLack latex and let it dry thoroughly. I began the details by lightly drawing in (limning in art speak) the line that distinguishes the side pocket from the wing feathers.






Next come the edges of the scapulars. Note how each scapular gets a big longer and the spaces between them gets a bit wider as one goes aft. I have decided that Whistlers show 7 scapulars on each side. In life, both edges of each scapular feather show a black border, but I have simplified things for the sake of style.







Next I drew the shape of each scapular edge - tapered from its base to its tip.








Next, I drew each edge of the side pocket feathers - each a bit longer toward the stern.






Then - as always - I began painting from the stern and worked my way forward. I use a round #4 or #6 with a good point - synthetic or sable - for this job.







All 7 done!






Now the side pocket edges....






One detail up forward. Note how the side pocket edges begin just aft of the scapular borders.






Final bench portraits and sea trials in a day or so....


All the best,


SJS









Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: Al McCormick Goldeneyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Good morning, All~


The McCormick Whistlers are now done - resting and drying thoroughly on the hearth.






Sea trials tomorrow.


SJS

Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: Al McCormick Goldeneyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Nicely Done Shang Sanford.
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Re: Al McCormick Goldeneyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Good to hear from you, Fritz~


Thanks for the kind words!


Here are the final portraits and sea trials.






Sea trials at last....






Starboard bow....






Profile






On the beach.






Next stop UPS on their way back to Long Island.


SJS

Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: Al McCormick Goldeneyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Very nice Steve
.
.
.
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A LOT OF MEMORIES IN A MAN'S STOOL........
Duck hunting without a dog is just shooting
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Re: Al McCormick Goldeneyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
SJS
You didn?t make little pfd for them for their sea trails??
I did learn something from your post so thank you
Pat
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Re: Al McCormick Goldeneyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Steve,

Those are gorgeous! They look just like all the goldeneyes that hang around here all winter. They sure are fun to watch come rocketing in especially when they come in the larger groups.
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Re: Al McCormick Goldeneyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Thanks, Kyle~


Whistlers have always been a favorite of mine - especially hearing the wings when over ice.



Feel free to carve a rig from my patterns (within post). Might be easier as a "starter project" than Swannus maximus.....


All the best,


SJS

Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com


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Re: Al McCormick Goldeneyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Steve,
Those old corks look fantastic. You did a great job keeping the old school look. I bet your friend is going to be thrilled to shoot over those new old birds.
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Re: Al McCormick Goldeneyes - finishing a pair of very rare Whistler Drakes In reply to
Good morning, Zane~


Thanks for the kind words. The owner just got them back - and indded was happy. He's sending me another pair soon. I am looking forward to painting the Hen.


Here are 2 more From the Bench of George Williams:


Another Cinnamon...






...and a Naked Drinker.....








All the best,


SJS







Steven Jay Sanford
Pencil Brook Farm
South Cambridge, NY
http://www.stevenjaysanford.com