The father and son team of Larry Tawes, Sr., of Salisbury, and Larry Tawes, Jr., of Hebron, have created the signature Masterpiece Carving for the 2008 Waterfowl Festival. The piece will be featured in the Chesapeake Gallery at the Armory in Easton throughout the Festival, November 14, 15 and 16.
The choice of the Tawes team was unique in the Festival’s 38-year history. A year or two before each show, the carving committee selects one outstanding carver to create the piece that takes center stage at the event. Bruce Perry, member of the carving committee and involved with the event since its beginning, said that the committee felt it appropriate to have the two of them do the carving together.
“Individually, they are both very capable,” he noted. “As a father-son team, we felt this was a unique situation and didn’t want to lose this opportunity.”
The two started carving about the same time, around 1969, but Tawes, Jr., said this is the first time they have really worked together on a piece. Tawes, Sr., started carving as something to do in his spare time from the masonry business. About six months later, his son, then 13, took up the hobby. “Whatever Dad did, I was right there with him,” he explained. “He taught me the basics.”
His father remembers having a hard time keeping his son out of the shop once he got going. It was not long before the son was teaching the father. “I’ve learned a lot from him,” Tawes, Sr., said. “He is a great painter. I was struggling with my painting, but now I can do it.”
Both credit early motivation from the Ward Brothers work, but say carver Dan Brown was their primary mentor. “Danny inspired us both so much,” said Tawes, Sr.
Tawes, Jr., went into oyster dredging right from high school. He remembers taking carvings out with him on the skipjack. If the boat didn’t go out that day, he carved. The pastime became a passion and both father and son have been carving full time now for about thirty years. Tawes, Jr., is also a charter boat captain on the Bay in summer months, carving in the winter.
The father has been exhibiting at the Waterfowl Festival for 33 years. He calls being invited to the show by Bill Perry, Bruce’s father, “one of the greatest things that ever happened to me.” He sold everything he had at his first Festival and says, “I owe it all to the show. That show has been good to me and the family.” Five years after his father’s first appearance there, Tawes, Jr., was invited to exhibit.
When they were chosen for the Masterpiece Carving honor, Tawes, Jr., made a prototype of his idea for the bow of an old skiff with reeds growing out of it, a family of Green-Winged Teal on deck and a Pintail flying overhead. Both wanted to do a real Eastern Shore piece. They call it “Pintail Point.”
“We’ve seen this thing, the boat in the reeds,” said Tawes, Sr. “I used to build these kind of boats. People have asked us where we found the boat—we built it.”
The father carved the Pintail, the son carved the Teal family and both worked on the sheet-metal reeds and wooden skiff.
Tawes, Sr., said he has been “on a high” since they were chosen. “I am so honored by this and just wanted to do the best I could do,” he said. “I’m the happiest guy in the world.”
The 2008 Waterfowl Festival will be held in Easton November 14, 15 & 16. For more information, to volunteer or to make a donation, contact the Waterfowl Festival office at 410-822-4567 or visit its website,www.waterfowlfestival.org.