Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ira Frost – woodcarver extraordinaire

It’s difficult to describe Ira Frost’s bird carvings without resorting to superlatives. They’re simply the most lifelike woodcarvings I’ve ever seen.

The detail is exquisite, the painting meticulous and the craftsmanship outstanding; but that’s not what makes them so realistic. It’s the design and gesture of his pieces that really makes them come to life.

Ira starts with sketches to capture the gesture and then creates a final design. He transfers that design onto tupelo wood and carves the general body shape. He then uses special tools to create the extremely fine detail. Wing and tail feathers are often individually applied, paper-thin pieces of wood. He further enhances the carving by wood-burning feather texture into the wood.

He then uses his superb painting skills to accurately render the bird's plumage in acrylic paint. The final sculpture is mounted in a natural setting with hand-crafted leaves, twigs, grass, flowers and even insects crafted from wood, brass and other materials.

Ira is completely self-taught. He has studied bird mounts at the Harvard Museum, collected hundreds of photographs, spent countless hours observing birds in the wild and read numerous reference books on bird anatomy and behavior. He also worked with a bird bander to handle live birds and even took a bird taxidermy course at the New Hampshire Audubon Society.

In addition to being a phenomenal artist, Ira is also one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. He recently took on a protégé and partner, Shane Emery, whom Ira is training to follow in his footsteps.

Ira’s website is now on-line. If you’re familiar with his work, you’ll be pleased to see some of his beautiful birds again. If not, prepare to be amazed.


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