Ferdinand Bach (1888-1967) Detroit, MI
Ferdinand Bach carved in the classic Michigan style. His oversized decoys are solid and serviceable; they exemplify the finest of the twentieth century Detroit area decoys. Carvers from Bach's era made oversized decoys with broad backs, short tails, wide flat bottoms and rounded contours throughout the construction of the decoy. Bach converted old telephone poles of cedar into oval-shaped lures and topped them with sugar pine heads. His decoys were wide to offer greater visibility to flying birds and rode low on the water to prevent tipping. Using a drawknife, spoke shave, pocket knife and rasps, Bach carved his decoys by hand. Contrary to Michigan tradition, he relief-carved the wings and covered them with carved feathers. Before painting the surface, Bach coated the entire decoy with a sealer of half marine varnish and half linseed oil. From there, he painted the decoy in blended colors that truly represent the plumage patterns of the actual bird.
Misfortune befell Bach's first full rig of seventy-two decoys when fire destroyed it and his houseboat in 1925 (Engers 211). Within a year however, Bach rebuilt the houseboat and created a new rig of bluebills, canvasbacks, redheads and at least one merganser. Bach took care of these decoys and cleaned and stored them in bags at the end of every season until he died in a drowning accident in his own canal.