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Carving Favorite Songbirds


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About the Author

Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1948, the shore was rich in wildlife which held his youthful interest. Hunting was a prime activity since he was 14 years of age, and many full days were spent on marsh, field, and in the Jersey pines. Tony was active as a commercial illustrator during the 1960s and developed a talent for drawing and painting local wildlife during this time. After service in the Marine Corps from 1968-70, he returned to painting wildlife and story illustration. During the early 1970s he started to design and carve duck decoys for his own use. Soon he had requests from friends to make some birds for their gunning rigs. Woodcarving ultimately began to occupy more of his time and interest. While his carving origins started with decoys, somewhat more decorative birds, fish, and animals were requested by many patrons of his art. Most of his work is done in white cedar; he also carved in basswood, butternut, mahogany, maple, ebony, oak, and several species of pine. The painted finish of his bird and fish carvings are what help to make each carving special. Mr. Hillman has authored and illustrated over 30 carving and painting how-to books, most with Dover Publications. Three of the earliest titles were done with Harry V. Shourds, the grandson of the famous Tuckerton carver. Thousands of wood carvers have used their series of carving and painting patterns for over thirty years. Tony added other titles which included several painting how-to books, fish carving, and weathervane subjects. Tony was invited to Washington, D.C. to the American Folk Life Festival in 1983 by the Smithsonian Institute to demonstrate his craft, one of only 3 carvers in the state to be so honored. He still carves full-time and his favorite subjects are the shorebirds which migrate to and from our coast each year. Tony has lived in Cape May County for the past thirty years, and his carvings reflect a lifetime of careful observation of our unique coastal heritage. Since 1999 his presence on the internet has allowed Hillman to spend more time carving and selling directly to patrons, rather than attending scattered shows around the country. His website, www.HillmanArt.com, features several from a selection of hundreds of original works, with directions to his home and contact information.

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