The Ottumwa Courier

AP Iowa

November 25, 2013

Duck decoys dominate in E. Iowa antique shop

NEW VIENNA, Iowa (AP) — A long, 180-degree glance at the inventory at the Washington House Antiques store overwhelms the senses.

"Got stuff?" asks Steve Kerper, with a smile. "I'm the biggest pack rat in New Vienna."

He's probably correct. But what draws the eyes full bore are the polished, gleaming, hand-carved duck decoys that share space with the antiques, some dating to the 19th century.

The Dubuque Telegraph Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1cCTDqW ) Kerper is the Midwest Michelangelo of duck carving, a craft born of his love of the outdoors, creative mind and skilled hands.

Kerper began carving in 1986 to supplement the antique store sales, which were slow — and remain so. In 1992, the carving turned serious.

"Decoys were the main thing and the store became a hobby," he said.

Kerper collects his wood in Clayton and Dubuque counties.

"It's the most beautiful wood in the world, and all out there," he said. "I roam the timber. Either woodpeckers, grubs or me will get it."

A wood carver's palette is similar to that of a painter. Kerper began making decoys out of catalpa, locust, hickory, elm, oak, cedar, sumac, cherry, wormy butternut, walnut and other Iowa woods.

His favorites are walnut, butternut and catalpa, with sumac, red cedar and gray elm being the most striking.

A prolific tree planter, Kerper owns 12 acres of woodland mixed with river bottom and cropland. Here he has planted more than 5,000 trees of 65 species since 1974. He cuts the trees, dries and cures the wood naturally. (He also picks up dead wood, standing or fallen, too.) Kerper then hand carves them with a knife and hand sands the decoy to a satin finish.

"I'll carve outside when the weather is decent," he said. "If it's too hot, cold or wet, I'm in the corner."

Text Only
AP Iowa
  • Iowa officer wounded in gun range accident HAMPTON, Iowa (AP) — A northern Iowa police officer is recovering from hand surgery following an accidental shooting at a gun range. The Hampton Police Department says the accident occurred last week during night handgun qualification. The department

    April 23, 2014

  • Crime not suspected in a West Des Moines death WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Investigators don't think a crime was involved in the death of a Clive woman whose body was found next to a burning car in West Des Moines. Police say officers found the body Sunday morning when they arrived at the scene

    April 23, 2014

  • Officials ID body found in burning Iowa field ONEIDA, Iowa (AP) — Officials have released the name of a 78-year-old woman whose body was found by firefighters battling a blaze in a northeast Iowa field. She was identified as Generose "Genny" Bennett, of Oneida. The Greeley Fire Department respon

    April 23, 2014

  • Iowa delays plan to move inmates out of old prison FORT MADISON, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Department of Corrections is delaying plans to close the 175-year-old Iowa State Penitentiary after discovering problems in the heating and cooling system in its $132 million replacement. The department said Tuesday

    April 23, 2014

  • Iowa gets nearly $72M in yearly tobacco payment Eds: APNewsNow. DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa received $71 million last week from tobacco companies — its annual share of a 1998 landmark legal settlement in which tobacco companies pay states for smoking-related health care costs. The Iowa Attorney

    April 21, 2014

  • Debate still simmers over 'Field of Dreams' site DYERSVILLE, Iowa (AP) — A quarter-century after "Field of Dreams" debuted in movie theaters, the northeastern Iowa farm where it was filmed remains at the center of simmering debates. The film, which premiered in Iowa 25 years ago Sunday, turned the

    April 21, 2014

  • Driver dies after western Nebraska collision PAXTON, Neb. (AP) — A 41-year-old Iowa woman has died after a traffic accident on Interstate 80 in western Nebraska. The Nebraska State Patrol says the accident occurred about 7 a.m. Sunday around two miles west of the Paxton interchange. The patrol

    April 21, 2014

  • Firefighters find body in northeast Iowa field ONEIDA, Iowa (AP) — Firefighters say they found the body of a woman as they battled a blaze in a northwest Iowa field. The Greeley Fire Department responded around 2 p.m. Sunday to the report of a cornfield fire in Oneida, three miles to the south. D

    April 21, 2014

  • Man dies after off-roading accident in Des Moines DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a man has died after an off-roading accident in southeast Des Moines. Authorities say the man and some friends were riding in a wooded area south of the Des Moines River when the vehicle he was in got stuck in

    April 21, 2014

  • Chairman: Branstad staff pressured board on hires DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The chairman of the state's Public Employment Relations Board said Thursday that two aides to Gov. Terry Branstad pressured the board to hire a friend of the administration, in the latest accusation that top government officia

    April 18, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National