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#3135696 - 10/10/13 05:41 AM
Burlapping Decoys...
Matt Breuer Offline
Ice Team Pro

Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 3171
Loc: Bemidji, MN, USA
Been researching this for awhile, and finally got it done! Figured I'd toss up a tutorial and my findings/results...

A few years ago I was able to acquire a box of old Herters . A mix of mallards, pintails, and coots. One mallard was perfect, with just a hint of crackling in the foam, looks really rustic, and is a perfect display piece in the house with the original Herters weight and string. The pintail needs work, and the coots were in terrible shape. They are pretty rare from what I understand, and have found, so I wanted to restore them. Burlapping intrigued me, and I took on the project this past weekend.

Here are the two decoys before I began...


I picked up a tub of tile mastic, some loose weave burlap, and some paint. I cleaned up any loose debris and chipping from the decoys, and prepped them for burlapping. Next step was to take off the heads, and remove the hardware. Next the kids and I rubbed in a thin but good coat of tile mastic on the foam, getting it fully covered. One decoy had a large cut out in the breast area. I fixed it with burlap chunks and mastic, rounding it out with the mastic to shape. Then, we wrapped the decoy in a single layer of burlap. We then trimmed off any overlap, and proceeded to coat the burlap with another thin layer of tile mastic, rubbing it into the weaves very well.

We set the decoys in a warm well ventilated area, and let them set and dry for 48 hours.


Once dry and set, we started the painting process. I started the heads while the mastic and burlap were setting, coating them in ultra-flat black, and hitting the beaks with flat white.

Then I hit the decoys with ultra flat black and a touch of white for the butt feathers.


The last step was to reassemble the hardware and heads, and to let the kids paint the tiff and the eyes. I have two old Herters weights I tied up with string that I need to attach, but they sure turned out pretty!

Burlapped Herters 63's...


Next time I'm going to get some latex gloves, and will probably figure out a better way to work around the holes for the head and the anchor bolt. I had to trim away the painted and hardened burlap, which was a pain. Other than that, the rest was great, and appears to have worked very well!

Matthew Breuer
Northcountry Guide Service
www.northcountryguides.com
(218)444-6479
Serving the Bemidji area since 2002

Ice Team - "Join the Team"
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#3135705 - 10/10/13 06:26 AM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: Matt Breuer]
onthefly Offline
HSOList.com Family

Registered: 06/22/05
Posts: 183
Nice work! I picked up a bag of 20 old Herters divers last winter. Spent a long time burlapping, sealing and painting. Definitely gave me the bug - now I'm always on the lookout for a new batch. Did mine as bluebills and redheads.
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#3135709 - 10/10/13 06:38 AM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: onthefly]
Ufatz Offline
Sr HSO Family

Registered: 05/28/04
Posts: 3650
Loc: Extreme NW MN
Nice work you guys!! And great to get the kids involved in something like this.

If chief Joseph had really said all he is alleged to have said he would have had no time to be chief.
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#3135748 - 10/10/13 08:07 AM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: onthefly]
Matt Breuer Offline
Ice Team Pro

Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 3171
Loc: Bemidji, MN, USA
Awesome, onthefly! I have been searching non-stop for a pile of divers. Things are spendy, and I don't have time to go to garage sales in search of them! I'd like one line of cans or ringers that the kids and I were able to burlap and paint...

Did you run into any troubles, or have any observations while doing yours?

Matthew Breuer
Northcountry Guide Service
www.northcountryguides.com
(218)444-6479
Serving the Bemidji area since 2002

Ice Team - "Join the Team"
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#3135777 - 10/10/13 08:47 AM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: Matt Breuer]
onthefly Offline
HSOList.com Family

Registered: 06/22/05
Posts: 183
I agree - they aren't cheap! I picked up the 20 for $180 and learned later that was a good deal. I have to believe there are attics with piles of old Herters just waiting to get redone. If you do it right, though, these things will withstand many many hunts. And, decoys in general are getting expensive fast.

My process:
Mastic + burlap
Smoothed mastic out with a wet paint brush
(Optional - you can do a 2nd coat of mastic and get rid of the burlap texture)
Let dry for a week - important to make sure there's no moisture in the mastic
Sealed with Kilz oil based primer
Painted with Rustoleum flat white oil based enamel
Sprayed ends with Rusto flat black - had access to an HVLP and liked the softer edges
Then, added "vermiculation" detail by shading with sprayer on the back
For eyes/bill I used acrylic art paints

Overall, I'd say just dig in and try it. Paint is the hard part, but pick a diver to start - they're typically easier to paint. Bluebills are about as easy as it gets.

Most of all, get a kid or two involved and have fun!
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#3135804 - 10/10/13 09:13 AM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: onthefly]
TylerS Offline
HotSpotOutdoors Specialist

Registered: 11/28/07
Posts: 1569
Loc: Fargo, ND
Those look wicked! Nice job guys!

God, it's good to be in the frozen tundra!

2009 King of the Cats Champion
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#3135871 - 10/10/13 11:36 AM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: TylerS]
Muthagoose Offline
Sr HotSpotOutdoors.com Family

Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 633
Loc: Virginia,MN,USA
Next time on the areas where chunks are missing try glue in a little foam and hit with a rasp.. just a suggestion////

If I don't get my fill on life I aint gonna blame no one but me
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#3135908 - 10/10/13 02:02 PM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: Muthagoose]
onthefly Offline
HSOList.com Family

Registered: 06/22/05
Posts: 183
Also, if you want detail in the foam body to really show up, you can cut a slit in the foam with an exacto knife, cut the burlap, then tuck the edge. Otherwise, the burlap can tend to bridge the detail lines, which rounds out the shape/eliminates some of the detail.

I assume that's how those foam deke makers get the detail to translate.
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#3135941 - 10/10/13 03:47 PM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: onthefly]
CANOPY SAM Offline
Sr HSO Family

Registered: 07/17/01
Posts: 3619
Loc: God's Green Earth
Just curious, what's the idea behind using burlap? In other words, why burlap?

Interesting project. I love old decoys, fishing equipment, and such. I would kind of think, like any old antique, if you "restore" them they actually lose value? Don't they?

I mean an old 55' Chevy Bel-air isn't gonna lost value, but I would think making an antique decoy new again would kind of take away the antiquity value of it.

Not saying it's wrong. Just kind of curious.

"So, brave knights, if you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty big pointy teeth."
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#3135963 - 10/10/13 05:15 PM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: CANOPY SAM]
Matt Breuer Offline
Ice Team Pro

Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 3171
Loc: Bemidji, MN, USA
These are not going to be sold, so the high value of them means little to me. However, the burlapped foamers do seem to bring in a higher value on auction than the originals, as they are a high quality working decoy.

The foamers are indestructible, you can literally shoot them over and over and they will not sink. Adding burlap and mastic makes them even more bulletproof. The burlap is like glue that holds the mastic and everything together.

Matthew Breuer
Northcountry Guide Service
www.northcountryguides.com
(218)444-6479
Serving the Bemidji area since 2002

Ice Team - "Join the Team"
www.IceTeam.com
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#3135992 - 10/10/13 06:59 PM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: Matt Breuer]
onthefly Offline
HSOList.com Family

Registered: 06/22/05
Posts: 183
Originally Posted By: Matt Breuer
These are not going to be sold, so the high value of them means little to me. However, the burlapped foamers do seem to bring in a higher value on auction than the originals, as they are a high quality working decoy.

The foamers are indestructible, you can literally shoot them over and over and they will not sink. Adding burlap and mastic makes them even more bulletproof. The burlap is like glue that holds the mastic and everything together.

+1
Maybe the original, mint condition Herters in a factory box are worth more. The ones I redid we're well-used gunners. Highest value as a gunner
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#3136239 - 10/11/13 09:08 AM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: onthefly]
CANOPY SAM Offline
Sr HSO Family

Registered: 07/17/01
Posts: 3619
Loc: God's Green Earth
Okay. I see.

Many years back I found a couple very old decoys that appear to be made of some type of molded cardboard material. They're quite life-like, but are very aged.

I think stuff like this is really cool. My wife does not agree. crazy

"So, brave knights, if you do doubt your courage or your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty big pointy teeth."
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#3136471 - 10/11/13 03:55 PM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: Matt Breuer]
Gissert Offline
HotSpotOutdoors Pro Staff

Registered: 11/17/00
Posts: 4902
Loc: OTC
Nice job on the restorations!

Here is a snap of one of the old Herters that my dad had. They were in terrible shape, but burlapping them gave them new life. I could have done a much better job on the painting, but the birds dont seem to care.

Nothing floats like a foamer, especially when the weather gets cold. This is a picture from last November when the winds were howling and it was about 12 degrees out. Some of the G and H plastic bills were capsizing, while the foamers stayed working the whole time, even carrying a heavy load of ice.



Uploaded with ImageShack.us

Caught in the jaws of life, I found myself, chewed up like everyone else. Made no difference who I was, or what I thought, I still got caught in the jaws of life.

James McMurtry

Fishing Minnesota Sponsors
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#3136621 - 10/11/13 10:31 PM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: Gissert]
mrg Offline
HotSpotOutdoors.com Family

Registered: 09/04/12
Posts: 49
Loc: hayward wi
gave some new life to these old herters, mallard and blacks.


Edited by mrg (10/11/13 10:32 PM)
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#3137026 - 10/13/13 08:23 AM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: Gissert]
Matt Breuer Offline
Ice Team Pro

Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 3171
Loc: Bemidji, MN, USA
Very nice, guys! Gissert, I saw that pic on another forum while I was researching, and loved it!

Matthew Breuer
Northcountry Guide Service
www.northcountryguides.com
(218)444-6479
Serving the Bemidji area since 2002

Ice Team - "Join the Team"
www.IceTeam.com
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#3137061 - 10/13/13 10:26 AM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: Matt Breuer]
srj Offline
Sr HotSpotOutdoors.com Family

Registered: 03/13/03
Posts: 445
Loc: Bemidji, MN / Bostic Crk L-O-W
Great job on the divers guys. Now, please forgive the hijack.....after returning from Canada I went thru my MN decoys to whittle down the flock. I have a dozen Herters model 63 black ducks that don't need anything. They have been unused for a long time. If anyone is interested, give me a holler.

Those foam Herters are great decoys. For about 30 years, I have used repainted model 72 mallards with replacement goose heads for packing a pretty good Canada spread in a small boat, a Grumman Sport Boat. 30 dekes fit in 2 bags and geese seem to think the smaller size is just fine. I just looked at the cost of new heads....wow.
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#3139245 - 10/17/13 08:48 AM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: srj]
Kettle Online   optimist
Sr HotSpotOutdoors.com Family

Registered: 05/14/11
Posts: 467
Loc: MN
I have a neighbor at the cabin with about 4 dz model 63s he is willing to sell they are in good shape no foam missing and heads are in good shape as well. They are not burlaped. Mallards and bills. How much should I offer to buy them for????

Kettle

Be cool to people. Be nice to as many people as you can. Smile to as many people as you can, and have them smile back at you.
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#3139534 - 10/17/13 06:52 PM
Re: Burlapping Decoys... [Re: Kettle]
onthefly Offline
HSOList.com Family

Registered: 06/22/05
Posts: 183
Based on what I've seen, $10 per is reasonable. HSOList listings seem to get $15-20 each.
I'd offer $100/doz.
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