Laurel Dabbs has been using antique hand tools and Atlantic white cedar to make authentic working decoys, shorebirds, and songbirds since 1988. She learned the craft from a gifted carver and hunter’s guide who carried on the traditions of his own family history. She believes the tradition and history of her work are as important as the style and form of her carvings—each decoy must be seaworthy and durable as well as beautiful.
Dabbs’s gunning decoys start as 8-foot planks of white cedar, winter-cut and air-dried for at least two years. Using a hatchet, mallet and gouge, spokeshave, and carving knife, she attaches the doweled (for strength) head to the hollowed-out body. Durable house paint assures a sturdy finish that stands up to the rigors of field use, while inletted lead enables the decoy to right itself in choppy water or sit nicely on a mantel.
Winner of the 2002 Harry V. Shourds Memorial Master Carver Award, Dabbs always takes her bench to demonstrate carving at living history events and museum programs, most recently at Shelburne Museum in Vermont.
Dabbs believes learning about this most American of folk arts is important for school groups and Scout troops, as most young people have never seen such a thing and also happen to find wood chips flying everywhere exciting. She also demonstrates at various wildlife and conservation events, including Ducks Unlimited and the Audubon Society.
Laurel Dabbs has been selected for the following Directories:
Biography updated October 3, 2016 Photograph updated October 3, 2016Contact information updated April 17, 2017
Or call 440-543-8566 to subscribe or buy back issues.
2019 Directory Applications
If you are an artist and would like to participate in the 2019 Directory of Traditional American Crafts, you can obtain an application by clicking here. The deadline for applying to the 2019 Directory is January 15, 2019.
2,785 days until America's Sestercentennial
We've mailed the
December 2018 issue of Early American Life to all of our current subscribers. The postal service advises you should allow up to three weeks for delivery,
so subscribers should have their copies of our new December issue by the end of October.
All new web subscriptions will start with the February 2019 issue. Call us at 440-543-8566 if you have other subscription requirements.
Early American Homes
For Sale in New York
Catskill Turnpike Stagecoach Tavern
Built circa 1800. Corner fireplaces, forty-foot ballroom, original floors, trim, doors, cupboards, mantels, and many original paint surfaces and hardware. A purist preservationists’s dream come true!. $360,000.