Larry Barth was born in 1957 in Stahlstown, Pennsylvania. Since he was a child he had all the makings of being a wood carver. His father was a woodworker and his mother and her two sisters were avid bird watchers. Barth has admitted that he was fascinated with porcelain birds but “a 14-year-old boy could not go home and whip up porcelain birds in his basement. So, I carved in wood.” He sold his first carved birds for 25 cents.
Barth attended Carnegie Mellon University where he studied graphic design and was heading towards a degree in illustration. That changed when during the spring of his freshman year his family visited the Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition where he realized that he was not the only one interested in carving birds. That fall he returned to Salisbury, Maryland and visited the carving exhibition at the Museum. That was when he decided that he wanted to carve wildfowl for the rest of his life. He was ecstatic that he had discovered carving before he realized that other people do it as well, it meant to him that he would not have to follow “a prescribed set of guidelines.”
He graduated college with a degree that he structured to meet his needs to be a wildfowl carver. He included classes in his transcript that included avian anatomy, sculpture, color, design and other subjects that would further his intellectual and creative skills. He follows a complex process in creating one of his works. He decides on the subject, does field observations, draws sketches, records observations and often visits bird-banding stations for hand-held observations. Before he begins carving he makes a model out of clay which is where he decides all of the important and fiscal details such as how the tail should be or which way the bird should be looking. He was also one of the first to place his art on black box bases in the mid-1980’s, Barth’s being long and rectangular, much like a pedestal for the work. He also puts a special emphasis on the proportions of the settings and visual understanding of the piece.
Barth also incorporates metal into his pieces, an art form he started with his “Saw Whet Owl” (1990) piece. Now he is incorporating metal into most of his work that comes out of his shop. Barth's extraordinary sense of design and remarkable artistic skill has led him to fourteen Best in World titles in the Decorative Life-size Division of the Ward World Championships.