Curt Soine finds creative release in carving fish decoys, swans, ducks, geese, shorebirds, songbirds, and occasionally dabbling in making twig tables and canoe paddles. He had carved briefly when he was a kid in the Boy Scouts, but then started carving again shortly after he got out of the Navy in 1980, when his wife showed him a picture of a swan decoy she liked that was priced at $400, and he thought “that doesn’t look so tough; I could make one of those.” And so it began….
Curt is mostly a self-taught artist, with the help of some books and the advice of other carvers. He likes to model his working decoys after antique decoy designs, appreciating them for their workmanship, design and history. A member of the Minnesota Decoy and Wildfowl Carving Club, Curt finds it an organization that enables him to become a better carver by learning from world class carvers. In 2015, he received a SMAC grant, which enabled him to learn oil painting from world champion carver Keith Mueller at the Krausman Studio. He will be taking another class from Keith in June of 2018.
He carves most of his decoys out of basswood, but occasionally uses white cedar, pine, balsa, cork and butternut. The fish decoys he carves are weighted and balanced with lead that he melts and pours, and they have copper, brass or aluminum fins that he cuts and hammers. He uses power tools for roughing out the decoy and uses knives and chisels for the detailed work.
He has been an artist on the Upper Minnesota River Art Crawl Meander since 2007. Most recently, he was featured on a Pioneer Public TV “Prairie Sportsman” segment, which can be found online. He competes annually in the National Fish Decoy Association competition in Perham, Minnesota, where he has earned numerous ribbons and Best of Show awards over the years. He has also competed in Michigan’s Great Lakes Fish Decoy Carvers and Collectors Association Competition, achieving several ribbons, and in the Ward Museum Chesapeake Challenge competition in Salisbury, MD, and earned an Honorable Mention. He has had his work displayed in a number of local galleries, including the Marshall Area Fine Arts gallery. In 2012, he had several fish decoys included in The Center for Art in Wood museum in Philadelphia and also in the book, “Hooked on Wood; The Allure of the Fish Decoy”. He was also featured in Doug Lodermeier’s book, “Minnesota Duck Decoys, Yesterday’s and Today’s Folk Artists”.