Antique carousel animals
are a unique part of American History (for a detailed look at carousel history in the United States, click here). They are a very refined type of commercial
art, produced in the USA from the 1880s through the 1920s.
Hand carved from laminated pieces of wood, painted with both lead-based and japan paints, leafed with metal leaf and decorated with faceted glass jewels and decorative scrollwork, the animals beckoned to people to pay a nickel to ride on the merry-go-round.
More than 2,000 carousels were in operation in the golden age of carousels; sadly, many were destroyed by fire, flood, or just sheer negligence. Today, many animals from disbanded carousels are sold individually; they are considered very desirable collectibles.
Restoration of a historic object is not to be taken lightly; incorrect methods or materials can decrease the value of a piece dramatically. Hawk's Eye Studio restores and paints these animals with precision and historical accuracy. The following pages illustrate some of the steps involved - and the finished pieces.
About the artist...
I view the world through a framework of history, art, and the natural world. It is my happiness to work with wooden antiques, art and animals. Restoring a carousel animal is to me akin to working on an archeological dig. They both start as great mysteries. By careful observation of little details – of chisel marks, paint colours, and subtle tactile nuances in the wood, little clues to their past are garnered, and their former history unfurls. Knowledge of carousel art history, of the ancient chemistry of paint, and of the language that chisels speak all guides me to discovery. It is a journey that I always find inspiring.
When I am not in my studio, I enjoy the natural world around me. I watch birds, hike with my dog, garden, and exercise my hawks in the surrounding desert. I love to read, and to write; words are my other paintbrushes. I try to see the world with the clarity of a hawk’s eye.
Please wander around through our gallery and enjoy the scenery!
Page 1: Daniel Muller Indian Pony
Page 2: Basket case Dentzel Restoration
Page 3: In the studio with the artist
Page 4: Other Muller Animals
Page 5: Menagerie Animals
Page 6: Gustav Dentzel Horses
Page 7: Marcus Illions Horses
Page 8: Various Horses
Page 9: Muller Armored Horse
Page 10: Band Organs and Trim
Page 11: Illions Chariot Side
Page 12: Illions Painting Step-by-Step
Page 13: Dentzel and Looff Tigers
Page 14: Custom New Wooden Animals - Tim Racer
Page 15: Custom New Wooden Animals - Ed Roth
Page 16: Contact Us!