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909 South Schumaker Drive
Salisbury, MD 21804
410.742.4988

Museum Hours

Mon - Sat: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sun: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

John “Mickey” McLoughlin (1911-1985) Bordentown, NJ  

John McLoughlin's mother was a painter, and his grandfather built boats as a hobby. His mother taught him how to carve wood when he was only ten years old, and his grandfather passed on his knowledge of woodworking. By the time McLoughlin was in high school, he was building his own boats and carving his own decoys. Using photographs, pictures and live birds when he could, McLoughlin designed his own patterns. His early decoys are carved out of western red cedar with rounded bodies and little or no relief carving. Most of the birds have flat bottoms and sold for two dollars apiece (Huster 90). Later decoys are made of sugar pine and have slight shoulders and a bit of relief carving over the wing tips and tails. For greater stability and a realistic appearance on water, McLoughlin attached a full-length wooden keel to his hollow lures. Using only a drawknife, rasp, straight razor and simple paint patterns of oil and acrylic, he produced just about every species prevalent along the Atlantic Flyway. These birds represent the Delaware River school of carvlng, but remain unique because of turned or high heads, crossed wing tips on the black ducks and a maple leaf design on early canvasbacks. McLoughlin carved around fifteen hundred decoys and eventually started carving commercially. Over the years, John McLoughlin made minor stylistic changes, but never compromised the quality of his work. To accommodate evolving tastes, he turned to carving decorative decoys.