Maryland Traditions Folklife Area
Rich Smoker & Kenny Glasgow
Marion Station, Maryland, and Princess Anne, Maryland
Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Program Team
photo credit: Edwin Remsberg Photographs
Rich Smoker is a master decoy carver who began his journey at a young age when he apprenticed to a master taxidermist. Smoker credits his success in wildfowl carving to his early immersion in taxidermy. He learned anatomy extensively, which enhanced his pursuits in wood carving and creating lifelike reproductions of a variety of birds. Smoker grew up on a tiny island in the Susquehanna River, but his love of decoy carving brought him to the Eastern Shore, where he met master carvers Lem and Steve Ward. Now a resident of Marion Station, Maryland, he is a fixture in the decoy carving community.
Decoy carving is one of the most important traditional arts on the Delmarva Peninsula. It grew from purely functional hunting tools to a true art form that combines elements of craft, functionality, and aesthetic beauty to encompass a wide range of styles, intentions, and materials. Hand-crafted wood decoys tend to be less common than mass-produced plastic decoys, but carvers still produce pieces that are intended to shot over by hunters. Competitions and shows like the Ward World Wildfowl Carving Competition and the Easton Waterfowl Festival help to sustain and showcase the work of contemporary carvers.
Rich Smoker is a consummate artist and strong advocate for decoy carving, teaching thousands of his students in his career, including his current apprentice, Kenny Glasgow, and Kenny’s grandson, Daniel Baltezegar, who will demonstrate with them at the festival. Smoker brings the history of decoy carving to bear on the present needs and interests of carvers and enthusiasts throughout the country.