Larry Glaze of Carthage was showing me the spring-fed trout stream that runs in front of a hunting lodge he is decorating when a bald eagle launched from a tree limb overlooking the creek. It seemed fitting, for some of Glaze's most extraordinary art works are eagles made from antlers and a bronze casting.
Stepping into Glaze's barn is like a trip back in time. It's a combination studio and a western-style art gallery. A sign hanging in front of the barn says, "Antler Art of the Plains." The barn includes a stall for Glaze's horse and a kennel for his dog. The rest is decorated with horseshoes, old pistol frames set in concrete and a replica of a wall from a local mine.
He has carved a large cactus out of a willow tree, decorated it with birds he carved and set spines on it-cactus style-from a locust tree.
Of course, he has lots of antlers, mostly from white-tailed deer and moose, but some from elk, too. Leaning against a wall are wagon wheels that Glaze will turn into chandeliers decorated with antlers. Part of the ceiling is covered with tin sheets that were popular 100 years ago. He found them in an attic, never used.
Glaze worked at one time as a dental technician, carving false teeth. In 1989, he was injured when he fell out of tree stand while deer hunting. While recuperating, he discovered he had a talent for carving reproductions of wildlife. Now, he makes carvings in whitetail deer, moose and elk antlers. He also makes unique lamps and chandeliers with objects taken from nature, and he makes eagle sculptures, sometimes working as many as four eagles into one piece. After creating an eagle head in clay, he sends it to Minnesota where a master casting is made. The master will make 12 or 14 metal eagle heads before Glaze must start anew and make another clay head. The eagle wings are made of moose antlers, and the whole piece is securely attached to a base. He often makes the bases from stumps or pieces of Osage orange wood.
Glaze took me to a Carthage bank to show me an eagle sculpture that was on exhibit there. Three eagles soar over a 150-pound slab of Osage orange. The sculpture would travel to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's annual meeting, where it would be auctioned with bids starting at $10,000. Conservation organizations in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado have reaped thousands of dollars from work he has donated.
In addition, Glaze's works have been shown at the Midwest Gathering of Artists at the Precious Moments Convention Center in Carthage, and at the Ella Carouthers Dunnegan Gallery of Art in Bolivar. Much of his work ends up in homes to augment southwestern decorating themes or corporate offices.
All of the antlers Glaze uses are "sheds," or dropped antlers people have found. He buys whitetail antlers and moose antlers from a broker in Ohio. Native Americans in Alaska pick up the moose antlers. Moose antlers are expensive-as much as $150 each-but trophy antlers that weigh up to 40 pounds per side can cost much more. Large whitetail antlers also have become expensive. He sometimes trades for antlers at black powder and mountain man rendezvous.
Glaze likes a moose antler weighing about eight to 10 pounds and measuring two-feet long for carving, as this is a good size to display on a table or credenza. He may invest 80 hours carving a scene in a moose antler of a bugling elk and a cow elk with trees and other small details. He may also produce a small casting of a moose or elk and set it in the rosette or base of an elk antler.
Another moose antler features the head of a wolf, and two smaller wolves running through a forest. One piece features whitetail deer antlers mounted on a base of Osage orange with a carving of a buck and doe. Leather strips with glass beads flow off the base of each antler.
His lamps, usually set on Osage orange bases, are often customized for a particular buyer, possibly using a cowboy boot or other western representations provided by the buyer. One lamp features the skull plates and antlers of two whitetail deer that were locked in combat. A floor lamp stands on a tower of 64 shed whitetail antlers.
The southwest Missouri hunting lodge that Glaze is decorating totals 6,000 square feet and is built of cypress logs imported from Florida. He has completed the largest of three chandeliers he is preparing for the lodge. It will hang in an opening in the center of the lodge that juts onto a bluff overlooking the stream. Glaze personally welded and wired all 86 lights himself. The chandelier will feature whitetail antlers, and the owner will be able to add antlers taken from the 2,000-acre property that is the site of the lodge.
Glaze also is creating two eagles and 10 lamps for the lodge. Decorating the lodge is a dream job for an artist who has literally carved his own niche in the world of wildlife art.
It is legal to pick up deer antlers you find in the woods. If you purchase or barter deer antlers from somebody else, however, the antlers must be accompanied by a bill of sale showing the seller's full name, address and the number and species of these parts, as well as the full name and address of the purchaser.
Legally taken wildlife parts, after mounting or tanning, may be bought and sold. This applies to artwork made from deer, moose and elk antlers.
Specific regulations governing the sale of antlers and other wildlife parts can be found in the Wildlife Code of Missouri, 3CSR10-10.768.
Editor - Tom Cwynar
Managing Editor - Bryan Hendricks
Art Editor - Dickson Stauffer
Designer - Tracy Ritter
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Photographer - Jim Rathert
Photographer - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Staff Writer - Joan McKee
Composition - Libby Bode Block
Circulation - Bertha Bainer