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Fine Arts Student of the Week: Decoy carving and pottery come natural to Bolei

Brainerd High School senior Jacob Bolei smiles as he works on his decoy project. Bolei was named Fine Arts Student of the Week for his work in decoy carving and in pottery. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch1 / 3
This is a red and white fish decoy made by Brainerd High School senior Jacob Bolei. Submitted Photo2 / 3
This is a Patagonia decoy made by Brainerd High School senior Jacob Bolei. This is one of the decoys the student made that he is most proud of. Submitted Photo3 / 3

Adviser nomination: "Jacob is doing really well in decoy carving. His attention to detail is inspiring. In addition, his work in pottery is always well crafted and extraordinary."

Memorable fine arts achievement: "All the decoys I have done. I've made about a dozen decoys. By the time I graduate I will have been in decoy carving for two years."

Other fine arts activities: Welding.

What started your interest in decoy carving?: "I started in my grandpa's garage creating small popper hooks out of wood. I painted them and then I saw there was a decoy carving class, I thought if I can create and sell hooks then I can make decoys, too. Ever since I started making them, the teachers really liked them.

"I was about 12 when I started making the small fishing hooks. ... I have loved fishing ever since I was really, really young. I went fishing with my dad, grandpa and family. I have a huge bass tackle box at home, my dad gets annoyed with it. I love bass fishing.

"I didn't make any decoys until I took decoy carving last year. It was my first time making it and I knew I would be better at it as I did it more. I knew the class would be something I'd enjoy doing."

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Jacob Bolei

  • Grade: Senior.
  • Age: 18.
  • Art focus: Brainerd High School decoy design and pottery.

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Decoy you're proudest of?: "The red and white decoy I created this year or the Patagonia one I made last year. I saw the Patagonia fish on my friend's shirt and I said I will make a decoy out of that. (Rick) Jensen was really happy with that one.

"Right now I am working on a turtle. ... Jensen thinks he is going to buy it from me, but I won't sell it to him. He is going to count it as two projects because it's taking me a long time to do it and the detail I am putting into it."

What do you enjoy about decoy carving?: "The detail you put into the wood, with all the different shapes and stuff you can do with it. Just taking a piece of wood and creating something that looks real out of it is pretty cool.

"I don't use my decoys to fish, I don't want to wreck them."

What do you enjoy about pottery?: "I'm on my fifth pottery class now. I've made a lot. I like the wheel. For a lot of people it's hard and they struggle with it, but it came easy for me. I keep building pot after pot. I'm good at it."

Biggest challenges in art classes: "Getting my decoys done on time because I put so many details on them so they take me a long time to finish. Jensen gives me extra time every time to make one. The spray painting can be hard for the decoys when you are doing the details, it can be tough. In pottery, a challenge can be when making a really big pot you have to try to bring the clay up otherwise it will be too thin and collapse."

Pottery you're proudest of?: "I made this really nice big bowl. I used all brown for the pot and I took white and Caribbean green and I poured it on the rim of the bowl and it looked like painting was dripping down. It turned out really nice."

Is this something you'll do after high school?: "I might as a hobby. I will go to UTI (University Technical Institute in Illinois) and I may get a few little tools to make decoys and maybe I will start selling them. ... I'm going to UTI next fall to get an automotive certificate. Working on cars is something I like."

Dream job: "I always wanted to work on vehicles. Mostly with the Chevy, always liked their trucks."

Favorite movie: "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."

Favorite TV show: "Supernatural."

Favorite book: "I don't read books. Only if I have to for school."

Favorite song: "For the Glory."

Favorite band: All Good Things.

Favorite restaurant: Buffalo Wild Wings. "My favorite sauce is the honey barbecue."

Hobbies: Hunting, fishing and mountain biking.

Fishing trip story: "Me, my dad and brother go to Canada three times a year in Ontario at a resort called Timber Wolf Lodge. We fish for everything, walleye, bass, trout. We bring poppers and we catch like crazy."

Biggest pet peeve: "Little kid screaming."

Parents: Mike Bolei of Merrifield.

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