Materials Used In Scrimshaw

September 11, 2009

The base of any piece of scrimshaw should be a smooth, relatively hard material that is finished (polished) to a high degree. Traditionally, most scrimshaw was produced on teeth, tusks, antler, or bone.

Materials I will scrim

  • Light-colored materials (for black & white/color scrimshaw)
  • Elephant tusk ivory (pre-ban ivory from estates in the US)
  • Fossilized walrus tusk ivory
  • Hippo tusk ivory (must be specially prepared)
  • Warthog tusk (larger tusks)
  • Fossilized woolly mammoth ivory and mastodon ivory (ancient ivories)
  • Light-colored cattle horn
  • Deer, elk, moose, caribou, stag antlers (must have the bark polished off in the scrim area)
  • Cattle shinbone
  • Bonded or polymer ivory (pistol grips)
  • Mazecraft imitation ivory
  • Ivory paper micarta

Dark-colored materials (for “reverse” scrimshaw)

  • Natural and reconstituted jet (a semi-precious gemstone related to coal and used for jewelry)
  • Water buffalo horn or other black horn
  • Dark-colored fossilized/ancient ivories (coffee-colored to black or very dark blue)
  • Dark-colored cattle horn
  • Black paper micarta
  • Pipestone (a semi-soft brick red rock)

Pigments I use

  • Quality permanent drawing ink (black)
  • Windsor-Newton oil paints (all colors, white, and black).

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