Carving an Eagle Designed by Artist John Ruthven

John Ruthven is a well known wildlife artist who has been compared to John Audubon. So when he inquired about having an eagle made, I encouraged him to draw up the design himself. It gave me the opportunity to work on something a little different.

John Ruthven and his late wife, Judy, bought and restored the boyhood home of Ulysses S Grant. They then donated the home to the state of Ohio where it is now a museum. The eagle  will be mounted above the front door as a tribute to Judy Ruthven who died recently.

Here is the artist’s drawing that I used to created a pattern.

Woodcraft occasionally has these large slabs of pine for sale for use as table or bar tops. Though it looks spalted and punky, the wood is fantastic carving wood. Here is the pattern on a piece of that wood.


The eagle’s head was to be carved life-like and projecting from the body in a realistic pose. Additional wood was glued for the head.


Here the carving is roughed out and I have detailed the head.


I’ve finished about half the feathering.


Here the eagle primed and ready for gold leaf. Notice there are no quills or veins on the feathers. This lack of detail was a design of the artist. Once finished, it looks great.


Before I apply gold leaf I use a bright yellow undercoat to help the gold cover.


23k Gold leaf now covers the bird.


Here is the finished eagle.


The customer decided he didn’t like his first color choice for the banner and had me redo the lettering. Now it is much easier to read.


Order an eagle just like this one.

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Order a pattern to carve an eagle just like this one.

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