Kansas State Fair 2007 Summary of my Entries

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Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 09-12-2007 05:54 AM 3814 reads 0 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I took most of the day of today and traveled to Hutchinson, KS to see the exhibits and check on my entries. This was the first time I have had anything entered in the Fair since my old 4-H days, which ended many years ago.

My 2007 Kansas State Fair Fine-Art entries are:
Walnut Rocking Chair, in “Woodworking”

Sculpted Walking Cane, in “Misc. Carving, walking canes, etc.”

Kansa Indian-Inspired Chair, in “Low-Relief Carving”

Scrimshaw Powder Horn A, in “Professional Folk Art”
Scrimshaw Powder Horn B, in “Professional Folk Art”

I had a hard time finding a category for the Scrimshaw, so it ended up in the same category as people that do decorative painting on objects they buy. The scrimshaw did “ok” even with that handicap.

The results of the Judging was as follows:

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

Woodworking: Rocking Chair, “1st Place, Best of Show”

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
Low Relief Carving: Kansa Indian Chair, “1st Place”

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
Misc. Carving: Sculpted Walking Cane, “2nd Place”.

The carving with the Wagon and Horses on the table took the “1st Place” ribbon in this category.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
Professional Folk Art: Scrimshaw Powder Horn A, “1st Place”

Professional Folk Art: Scrimshaw Powder Horn B, ”NO PLACE”
(I had to go back and change this, as I took the kids to the Fair to ride the amusement park rides on Saturday and noticed that my 3rd Place award had been rejected. After some questioning, I discovered that the Fair has a policy that a person can only get one award from each category, and so they removed the lowest award. I thought that was cool, gives more people a chance of a ribbon. The Fair is supposed to be fun for everyone.)

I’ve never shown these two powder horns on Lumberjocks, as I just can’t seem to get a good photo of them. I have tried several times this year to get a good set of photos, but so far, no luck. I’ll keep trying and at some point, I will post them as projects.

the small folding table on the left side of the picture took 2nd in this category, and the Hump-Back box with decorative painting took “Best of Show” for the Folk-Art category. All of this decorative painting was just excellent, and so I was quite thrilled to have done so well in the category.

Here is a project posting where I made a montage of other powder horns I have built in the past:

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

Thanks for taking a look,
Mark DeCou

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

24 comments so far

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5286 days

#1 posted 09-12-2007 05:58 AM

Always a pleasure, Mark

View Martin Sojka's profile

Martin Sojka

1893 posts in 5521 days

#2 posted 09-12-2007 08:12 AM

What an achievement, Mark.. congratulations, you sure deserve it!

View Tony's profile


995 posts in 5079 days

#3 posted 09-12-2007 10:46 AM

Congradulations Mark – Excellent effort

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 5137 days

#4 posted 09-12-2007 11:50 AM

I’m not surprised that you took so many first place ribbons.
I’m surprised that even one of your’s took second place.
Who had no taste?

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Roger Strautman's profile

Roger Strautman

657 posts in 5183 days

#5 posted 09-12-2007 12:03 PM

Mark, as normal you have great projects once again!

As for the picture taking try placing your project in front of a black or gray background then when taking the pictures zoom all the way in and back yourself up until you get the project to fit in the picture. This is how I took the pictures of my Apostles Creed linen that did so well. Good luck!

-- " All Things At First Appear Difficult"

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6873 posts in 5029 days

#6 posted 09-12-2007 12:06 PM


Don’t worry, there’s alway’s next year!

Great job!


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5011 days

#7 posted 09-12-2007 12:53 PM

Congratulations, especially on the Best of Show. That is quite an honor at a state fair. Of course that rocking chair is so exceptional that it was a shoo in. I wonder if they would let you show the scrimshawed horns in the art portion of the show maybe in graphics? Although I guess it is a folk craft. Good show.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5210 days

#8 posted 09-12-2007 01:04 PM

([email protected] Lee)

well done Mark!!! Very exciting.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Karson's profile


35270 posts in 5449 days

#9 posted 09-12-2007 02:04 PM

Mark Congratulations. on all of your entries. They are great.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5454 days

#10 posted 09-12-2007 02:14 PM

Thanks everyone. I have built several “involved” things this past 12 months that I could have taken to the Big Fair, BUT, borrowing them back, AND hauling them to the Fair was just not something I wanted to do.

I hauled a full 24’ rental truck of stuff to the Western Design Conference last September, and I’m not much on hauling things again like that if I can avoid it. So, I looked for small items. Also, the transmission on my Ford Ranger is shot, so I borrowed a ride with a friend, so I could only take something that would fit inside of his Chevy Equinox, a very nice ride I might add. He and his wife entered paintings and art they did.

For Next Year? How does a guy top a Maloof Rocker? I’ve been thinking through that question quite a bit, and have been for a year now. I have been looking at Gilmarten Rockers a Lot lately, going, “hmmmm?” I can’t even come close to drawing out in Sketchup what my mind is picturing, but a Maloof/Gilmarten is something I’m wondering about. I’ve been trying hard to do some Contemporary pieces, since there have been so many times people have asked if I could do Contemporary Design pieces. Kansas if filled with Mission and Country Oak decorated homes, so Contemporary is something the Big City folks have been asking about.

Also, I’ve been doing some thinking about how to make the State Fair Woodworking bigger for the Craft for next year. I am working on trying to find a Corporate Sponsor that will give some effort to the competition, and then I will start with the Kansas Lumberjocks to see if we can get a lot more entries in the Fair next year. Then, after that, I’ll start contacting all of my other non-lumberjock woodworking buddies to see if I can stir up some interest.

I’m not really after the Ribbons/Premiums, I think the Rocking Chair will win a whole $12 for it’s awards, and that is at least $11 in Canadian. So, the reason is for the advertising. The Fair Fine-Art Hosts were saying that they have answered a lot of questions from people about me and my work, after folks saw my entries. So, I took over some post card photos of my work with my name, phone, website name on them. The Hosts will give these post cards to folks that are interested in learning more. The Fair won’t allow me to advertise by putting out business cards, or other methods of attracting attention to my business.

Photos: I use a black velvet backdrop for my photos of small items. It isn’t the backdrop that I’m having trouble with, but the diffused lighting, reflections, and fuzziness of the photos. A Powderhorn has scrimshaw artwork that wraps around the circumference of the horn. This means that in one place the artwork is in focus, where another place it is not. If I put the Digital Camera on “Flower” which means it has no flash and focuses things closer than 28”, it gets fuzzy on the edges. I’ve taken hundreds of photos of my Powderhorns over the years, and always struggle to get them to look good. At least with the Digital camera, I’m not running to a One-hour developer, just to find out that all of the photos were bad again.

The professional photos I have had taken in the past don’t suffer from these problems, but paying the fees to shoot a powderhorn will run about $200, and all I will get is a couple of digital images that I can “borrow” if I give photo credits when I use them. What a racquet. I wish I could get paid each time someone looks at one of my projects.

The lighting is critical to shooting a good photo of a powderhorn, as the polished surface picks up any reflections. For instance, if I set the horn by a window to get good natural light for the photo, then if there is a nice blue sky that day, my photo will pick up the blue reflection in the surface, and the white horn takes on a bluish tint in the photos. It is pretty frustrating.

Some Lumberjock showed a link to an eBay photo instruction guide awhile back (I think it was David), and it showed using a large white plastic bowl to cover the item and diffuse the light. Since I read that article, I have been on the hunt for big bowl that would cover a powder horn and display stand. I haven’t been able to program the light sensitivity on my camera like the article suggested, so I guess I need to get the manual out, and read it.

Oh, #3,023: “You might be a lumberjock if have never read the manual on your digital camera.”

thanks folks,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View DaveJ's profile


73 posts in 4972 days

#11 posted 09-12-2007 03:34 PM

Congratulations Mark. Well deserved.

-- Dave J. Eagle, ID

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 5210 days

#12 posted 09-12-2007 06:17 PM

Nicely done Mark. I hope you get some business from the show.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View MattD's profile


150 posts in 4993 days

#13 posted 09-12-2007 10:37 PM

Congratulations Mark and I think it’s great that you participated in the fair. Fine Art is one of my favorite stops at our fair. Although there are many great exhibits every year, I too would like to see woodworking expanded. I thought you might find it interesting that another (perhaps Maloof styled) chair also took first place in the 2007 New York State Fair. This is a chair by Charles Trabold, a long time and highly respected woodworker in the area.

-- Matt - Syracuse, NY

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 5137 days

#14 posted 09-13-2007 06:03 AM

Hmmmm. The “Kennebunkport” = the only comfortable Adirondack chair.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5210 days

#15 posted 09-13-2007 11:57 AM

macro setting is probably using a shallow depth of field in order to blur the background and focus on the subject.
The professionals are probably using a greater DOF setting… the “scenic” setting may work better for you (if you can still get close) and pop the camera on a tripod. ... or find someone with a camera where they can adjust the DOF.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

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