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"Riffle Hunters" by Connie McGuire


This is a depiction of river otters in their home environment, going over and under rocks, logs and whatever is around them to play, hunt and travel. The otters are hand carved basswood painted with acrylic. The full otter is approximately 6 inches long and 2 inches wide. The base is inspirationally designed and masterfully created by Rebecca Kroh Carter of Splash Gallery.


The idea for the subject of course comes first. This piece was inspired by one of the artists at the gallery when she sent me a picture involving two otters which showed their relationship to each other.

The choice of wood to use comes next – it must fit the pattern of the subject in length, grain and strength. My choice for this was basswood, as it is soft enough to carve but tough enough to hold edges and details.

It takes about 2 solid weeks of carving, evaluation, more carving, sanding, more sanding, more evaluation to come to a point where it says it is fine now. Could there still be changes now that it is painted? Yes absolutely! But that is part of art right?

A list of carving tools would include, chop saw, scroll saw, rotary dremel, assortment of knives, sandpapers, toothbrushes, picks and water comes to hand that would do what is needed.

The subjects are then sealed, left to dry and a watery coast of acrylic is applied for base. Then comes the layers of colors. The end result hopefully is that the subjects have color but don’t scream “I’ve been Painted”!

The magic part is to have a base, as was created by Rebecca to bring them to life. It has beautiful color, movement and lifelike reality. Perfect habitat for playful otters.


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