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Fine Arts Student of the Week: Senior wins in decoy carving

Brainerd High School senior Elliott Nordin holds two of his decoy carvings with which he took first place in two categories at the Bob Johnson Invitational in Little Falls. Nordin was named this week’s Fine Arts Student of the Week for his work on Decoy Carving II. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch1 / 3
Brainerd High School senior Elliott Nordin's black crappie decoy. Nordin took first place with this decoy in the Bob Johnson Invitational in Little Falls. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch2 / 3
Brainerd High School senior Elliott Nordin's rainbow trout decoy. Nordin took first place with this decoy in the Bob Johnson Invitational in Little Falls. Jennifer Kraus / Brainerd Dispatch3 / 3

Adviser nomination: “Elliott Nordin has proven to be an outstanding decoy design artist. His level of detail and quality surpasses even those that have been carving for years. This past weekend Elliott won Junior Carver of the Year at the Bob Johnson Invitational March 2 in Little Falls. His Black Crappie will be on permanent display at the Fishing Museum in Little Falls. Elliott also receives $100 for his work. In addition to the Black Crappie, Elliott won first place in the Rainbow Trout category. This category was an open class, meaning he was up against adult carvers.”

Artist most admired: “Bob Johnson, I looked up to him and he taught me a lot.” Johnson was the former decoy carving instructor at BHS who died in May 2017.

Why did you join decoy carving?: “I joined Decoy Carving I in ninth grade because it’s a fun class and my dad is a big fisherman. I thought I could give my decoys to my dad, but it turned out I liked them and they turned out nice. I then took Decoy Carving II in 10th grade and then took it again this year.

“I’ve made about 12 decoys. I put them all in a box, expect the good ones I put on my desk. There are four good ones.”

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Elliott Nordin

Grade: Senior.

Age: 18.

Art focus: Brainerd High School Decoy Carving II.

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What do you enjoy about making the decoys?: “I get super focused and I zone out when I work on the decoys. I like to work on stuff and make them look good. The hardest part in making them is the detail, everything is about detail and the symmetry and making it perfect. That is how you want it to look.

“The easiest part in making the decoys is is making the fins. It’s just cutting them and making them look rough. On average it takes me about a month and a half to make one decoy.”

Proudest work: “My black crappie. I put immense detail into it. I never put this much detail into a fish decoy. Before I was always rushed to get my decoys done, but this time I had time to spend the time on it. I have open sixth and seventh hours so I spent that time working on the decoy.”

Talk about the competition, your awards: “I submitted my black crappie in the junior division and took first place and won 100 bucks. The entries were all crappies from high school kids. I felt pretty confident on winning with this decoy because of how much time it took me to make it. “I spent double the time on it and it was worth it. The part I don’t like (about winning) is that I think they (the Fishing Museum) will keep it forever. I may go and ask for it back sometime down the road.

“I also submitted my rainbow trout in the open class. This one was one I made in Bob Johnson’s class in 10th grade. I was putting so much detail in it that I never finished it for his competition. It was sitting in my room and I finally decided since there was a competition coming I would finish it. It had the right diameters and I gave it some new fins and I clear coated it again and it turned it in. This one I had more time to do and is one of my more realistic ones. The realistic ones take longer to make.

What does you dad think of your decoys?: “He likes them a lot. He really likes the realistic ones. He has used some of my decoys. I showed him the crappie one before the competition and he didn’t want to touch it because it is so nice and he was worried it would break.”

Plan to keep this as a hobby?: “I may do decoy carving as a hobby when I get older or something.”

Biggest skill learned: “Patience. I had patience before, but this helps you realize that the more patience you have the better it will turn out.”

Dream job: “If I had to pick a dream job it would be an astronaut. That would be so awesome.

“After high school, I plan to go to CLC (Central Lakes College) for welding and see where it takes me.”

Favorite subject: “I like math. I like numbers.”

Favorite old movie: “The Butterfly Effect.”

Last TV show you watched: “Friends.”

Favorite fishing spot: “When I was younger we always went to the Fisherman’s Bridge in Pillager for fishing. It is nice and my favorite spot because my dad and I went there a lot.”

Any personal projects: “At my house, I’m really into cars and stuff and I love horsepower. I’m doing a swap between one car to another. I got a 2003 BMW M3 and going to put that into a 1989 BMW 325I. I’m doing a complete swap with the engine and tranny. … It will be a long project. I started it in September after I bought the cars. I saved my money to buy them. I hope to be done by graduation. I’ve always been interested in cars, ever since I was little, 8 or 9. I like the BMWs. I like how they look, the older body styles are sleek and clean.”

Favorite song: “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Favorite band: Mötley Crüe.

Favorite meal: “A 12-ounce New York steak with garlic mashed potatoes and bacon asparagus; and a Coca-Cola.”

Sports/clubs: “Supermileage led by Mr. Brisk. It’s a seasonal club and we are building a car to see if it will get the most gas mileage. We have ‘til May 13 to get it complete before we start racing it.”

Biggest pet peeve: “Chewing with your mouth open.”

Parents: Garyson “Duke” Nordin of Brainerd and Sharon Nordin of Texas.