“Eagles are large birds yet they are graceful in flight. Their hooked beaks, large eyebrows and penetrating eyes give them a fierce attitude. Because they represent our own ideas of freedom and strength, we have made the eagle our national bird.
“To carve an eagle head I must first find a piece of wood with some interest or ‘character.’ It can be a root, burl, or crotch of a tree with splits, knots or decay. I like a dark wood —black walnut, cherry, and manzanita. I use a lot of cherry because splits occur or widen when it’s carved, and when finished, the color deepens with age.
“My carvings are done with a mixture of knives, gouges, and power tools with rotary cutters. The more ‘character’ a piece of wood has, the more I use the power tools. The finish is either tung oil or traditional linseed oil. I don’t use the poly/plastic finishes because it’s hard to get an even coat on different parts of wood grain. I do a lot of sanding; then a coat of finish, sanding, finish, sanding…until it is smooth and looks great.”
Don has studied art and sculpture at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and has been carving for about 15 years. He was a featured artist at WXXI Fine Arts Showcase, Rochester’s Main Event, Lilac Art Show, Woods-N-Wetlands, and Folk Artists of Western New York. Don has also participated in the New York State Fair Wildlife Art Exhibit since 1988.
Sharing his skills and talents with other people through teaching is something that Don really enjoys. He has taught carving at Greece Continuing Education and at Honeoye Falls Continuing Education, and he also has demonstrated carving at Genesee Country Museum, Cumming Nature Center, Rochester Museum and Science Center, Mendon Nature Center, Braddock Bay Park, and Letchworth State Park.
Don’s next exhibits will be at the Clayton Wildlife Art Show, Lake Plains Fall Festival and Beaver Lake Woodcarving Show.
Don Buss lives in Honeoye Falls and can be reached at 585-582-2693.