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Trevor Gong has taken tying flies to a new level. They're big, they're beautiful - and no, they don't catch fish.
Fly tying takes new twist 020613 AE 1 Capital City Weekly Trevor Gong has taken tying flies to a new level. They're big, they're beautiful - and no, they don't catch fish.

Photo By Sarah Day / Capital City Weekly

"The Purple Dragon," is a fly tie artwork created by Trevor Gong.


Photo By Sarah Day / Capital City Weekly

"Imperyan Sunset" features a macaw feather in this fly tie piece by Trevor Gong.


Photo By Sarah Day / Capital City Weekly

Trevor Gong stands next to his piece "Bronze Wasp," which is his favorite of the show.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Story last updated at 2/6/2013 - 1:38 pm

Fly tying takes new twist

Trevor Gong has taken tying flies to a new level. They're big, they're beautiful - and no, they don't catch fish.

Elaborate flies in custom frames line the walls of the Juneau-Douglas Museum. Gong made both the wooden frames and art within. He used to hand-cut his own matting as well, but given that he uses extensive shadow boxing, he felt that took too much time and had someone else cut them for this show. This is Gong's second art show, the first in 2008.

Gong has been tying flies for 30 years.

"I used to manage a fly shop in Seattle," he said. "I kind of got into this. I've been collecting materials and doing different things. It just kind of grew on me. ... They are derived from historical Atlantic salmon flies."

Like "The Baron," except Gong's rendition of it is much larger than the traditional form. It represents what was being used in the salmon industry in Scotland in the 1880s.

"They're very artistic in themselves," Gong said. "Some people are very exact with it. Some people take it and do crazy stuff. I do both. When you have a pallet of dyed feathers you can go crazy with it. It appeals to me more."

He likes to cover all the bases. Sometimes he'll use a formal pattern and follow it, other times he'll sketch out something entirely new.

Gong will prep the materials and hope everything works out like he envisions once it's complete. And if it starts looking off - redo.

"Others, I'll just have a feather and I'm not really sure how it's going to go," he said.

Like one titled "Imperyan Sunset," where he uses a macaw wing feather. The "Bronze Wasp," was also designed like that.

"I tie lots of regular ties for fishing, fishing is a big passion of mine, these ties are too big," he said. "I've tied some smaller ones and fished before, just because."

He didn't catch anything with his wild designs.

Gong said his pieces in this show are similar to his last.

"I try and mix up traditional and different kinds of flies," he said. "I have a straight feather one that's not a fly. Everyone really likes it (the new show). I hope it's going to be a big crowd."

He describes his work to other people, particularly those who've never seen it before, by talking a bit about the history of Atlantic salmon flies, then he goes into his styling.

The pieces that are most enjoyable to work with are the free form pieces, when he doesn't know exactly what he's doing for a final look.

"Sometimes I worry about the details too much - like when I'm sketching," he said. "Whenever I do one that I don't really worry about, those are the most fun and those always end up being the best ones."

Gong likes to use a technique called "feather marrying." He pulls apart dyed turkey (and other bird) feathers, takes the bits and puts them together with other sections.

His favorite piece of this show is the "Bronze Wasp," though he can't explain why.

Physically putting together one of these pieces takes about 6-8 hours, but the lengthier part of the process comes in the preplanning and prep work. Pulling apart sections of feathers, matching them takes a lot longer.

"I can spend hours and hours and hours getting them all set," he said. "The same thing happens when I'm marrying the wings."

But all in all, this is a passion.

"It's something that I really enjoy doing," he said. "I hope to do more shows in the future. It's such a big undertaking."

His show will be on display through the end of February at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum.

Sarah Day is the editor of Capital City Weekly. She can be reached at sarah.day@capweek.com.


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