Carving up the competition - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Carving up the competition

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EL CAJON (CBS 8) - Believe it or not, some of the world's most exotic and colorful fish come from El Cajon.

When it comes to carving fish, Bob Berry is in a class by himself. In fact, he's recognized as the best in the world.

"I've been setting the standard for all other carvers and luckily, I can still compete," said Bob.

His El Cajon home is filled with his awards. There are first, second and Best of Show ribbons, as well his prize winning handiwork.

Bob revolutionized fish painting.

"Guys used to carve fish, but just on a stick," he said. "When I started doing it in 1982 or '83, I started doing the habitat."

Placing his subjects in a natural environment gives his work depth and amazing realism.

Bob's first career was taxidermy.

"Ii opened by own studio in Ocean Beach," he noted.

Eventually, his sculptures started appearing in some prominent places, such as the San Diego Zoo inside the gorilla tropics exhibit.

Recently Bob received a lifetime achievement award for his work in taxidermy and fish sculpting.

"And I'm only the third person to achieve this award."

It hangs right next to his best in world plaque. Yet bob remains busy in his shop.

"People commission me to do fish for them or birds," bob explained.

Still carving, sanding and painting by hand.

"All hand brushed, everything you've seen here, so much has been hand brushed," bob continued.

Bob berry will tell you that there are no shortcuts to the top. It takes recreation, innovation and dedication to your craft.

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