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Monday, March 7, 2011

Mark Ford - 2011 Carver of the Year

From time to time a New Gretna resident receives some special recognition for an outstanding accomplishment. Such is the case with Mark Ford who was chosen as 2011 Carver of the Year by the New Jersey Decoy Collectors Association.

The following article appeared in the March 2, 2011 editions of The Leader and The Sandpaper. I thought I would share it with those of you who do not get those local newspapers. We are all proud of Mark and his carving talent.

Pete S

Carver of the Year from New Gretna

COOPED-UP: Carver Mark Ford is content to work on his carved birds its a converted chicken coop behind his New Gretna home. Ford will receive his prize as New Jersey Decoy Collectors 'Carver of the Year' at the annual Best Old Decoy Show in New Jersey March 26 at the Parkertown Firehouse, Railroad Avenue in Little Egg Harbor.

New Jersey Decoy Collectors Say:

This Decoy Carver Is a Cut Above

The New Jersey Decoy Col­lectors Association has selected Mark Ford as its 2011 "Carver of the Year." Ford, a native of the Parkertown section of Little Egg Harbor Township, is the 19th recipient of the yearly award given by the collectors.

Ford is a craftsman-carpenter by trade, and several nights a week you can find kiln carving by the wood-stove in a converted chicken coop behind his carefully restored New Gretna home. A high school decoy class taught by world-class maker John Holloway (a previous award winner) started Ford on a 30-year hobby that has resulted in two "Best in Show" ribbons and last year's first place in the Ocean County Decoy and Gunning Show for his working black-duck hunting rig.

Influenced by the old school baymen/decoy makers - Lloyd Parker, Bradford Salmons, Harry Shourds and his Great-Uncle - Ben Maxwell - he makes ducks, brant and song birds from Jersey cedar in the classic Barnegat style. A friend of Ford's, the late Rob Daley from West Creek sparked Ford's collecting interest. "Rob taught me to appreciate decoys from all regions," Ford said. "'And I am as interested in collecting as I am in making decoys for family and friends."

His other passions, in reverse order. are restoring old sneakboxes, his Labrador dog Abby and his wife, Frances. Frances, a recent college grad, artisan gardener and fine cook, shares her husband's love of the bay shore and can be seen on most breezy summer days sailing as crew on their catboat.

Ford will receive his award on March 26 during the NJDCA annual "Best Old Decoy Show in New Jersey." The show will be held at the Parkertown Firehouse and will feature more than 60 decoy exhibitors, gunning boat displays, a contemporary carving competition and an old-bird contest for an admis­sion of $3. Show hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

NJDCA is entering its 40th year as an organization dedicated to col­lecting antique and contemporary decoys and promoting decoys as "America's Finest Folk Art" The Organization has more than 200 members and enjoys a diverse group of duck people and storytellers nationwide.

For more information, contact Rich Pemberton, show chairman, at 609-652-8752, or Grove Conrad at grove@,

The Sandpaper - 3/2/2011


  1. My grandfather "Boot" Mathis had several decoys he hand-carved years ago. I think my cousin has one or two of them but the others "disappeared" after he died. I understand that really old decoys are much sought after by collectors and can be very pricey.
    Beverly Mathis Robinson

  2. I have some of Mark's decoys he carved as well in early years. He paid great attention to detail. Congratulations Mark.