A new mystery artist with the initials “LS LLR or LLB” as far as we can make out has surfaced and we hope someone has more information about them for the owner of this beautiful work of art. The high-res images can be found on http://imageshack.com/i/1n21fmj where you can go to the right hand side and access the images directly. This 6.25″ tooth was originally owned by a gentleman living in San Francisco, and depicts the Lahaina Kaanapali sugar cane train. It’s origin may well have been Hawaii. The original owner was a train buff and had a poster that may have been the art this was based on, as well as a straight blade shaver with an ivory handle that also has a train artfully scrimshawed into it.
The artwork is now in the hands of the gentleman’s descendants who would love to get in contact with the artist and find out more about the artwork as well as the artist. If anyone has any information please either add a comment to this post or email email@example.com and put “Mystery Artist 13″ in the subject line.
Jason R. Webb continues to create beautiful work in his unique style. He has just finished a scrimshaw skull with a beautifully stylized cross on the opposite side.
Belle Ochs has just finished a Viking scrimshaw display piece on ivory. Belle’s husband Chas is a custom knife maker and has been making knives since the 1970′s (his site can be seen at http://www.oxforge.com/.
Both artists do commission work. Information on the artists can be found by clicking on their respective pictures or links that will take you to their “Artist Page”.
Jason has just finished another Halloween scrimshaw, this one on a beautiful heart shaped piece of mammoth ivory, and he’s done this as a two-sided work. One side has a skull intricately scrimmed on it’s curved surface with the detail and shading that is becoming his trademark. On the other side is an exquisite cross that looks as if it were made of wrought iron.
Jason’s eye for design and detail comes from many years of drawing, some art schooling and a passion for his craft. See Jason’s interview page for more information on this contemporary scrimshaw artist.
Do you have a scrimshaw project you’d like to discuss with Jason? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “scrimshaw” and he’ll be glad to respond.
Scrimshaw Cross on side two of an ancient ivory heart by Jason R. Webb
Jason R. Webb has been hard at work creating more masterful scrimshaw. His subject? Skeletons! Perfect for this time of the year, and any time if you need a real challenge. The piece we’re focusing on is some old ivory piece he polished the back of, and has scrimmed the entire picture before putting down the ink. This technique does two things:
It allows the artist to create extremely fine lines that would lose their ink if subsequent inkings and rubbings were done (every time you rub away the ink you run the risk of compressing the ivory, especially if you have to rub hard)
The ivory has less of a chance to become stained or saturated by multiple inkings.
It is a painstaking technique I have not mastered, but seeing Jason’s work makes me want to try at least one or two in order to see how well it comes out. Jason uses an OptiVISOR and a plain “twisty” type compact fluorescent as a light source, along with a couple of Coulter Precision tools. (see this page for full size pics).
“Whaling Bark” by Jason Webb, entry in the 2013 International Scrimshaw Competition
Scrimshaw Artists International Competition
The 12th Annual International Scrimshaw Competition has come and gone. Congratulations to all who entered! Jason Webb (picture of entry below), and Nick Finocchio entered into the competition along with artists like Mark Thogerson and Jim Stevens. the sizes and shapes were as varied as the subjects they scrimshawed. It must have been a difficult decision to single out the winners.
Belle Ochs and her husband Charles live in Florida and create beautiful scrimshaw and custom knives respectively. Belle has been scrimming for over thirty years, and the detail is that of a practiced hand. Creating wildlife, native American portraits and more on both pre-embargo ivory and mammoth ivory, her work is beautiful. She doesn’t appear to shy away from the challenge of ancient ivory, incorporating it’s timeless beauty into her works of art and jewelry. Her site can be seen at http://www.scrimshawworks.com/index.htm, while her husband’s knives can be seen at http://www.oxforge.com/
Michael Cohen, a longtime scrimshaw artist has recently updated his site. His work includes Ships, Mermaids, Native Americans, Fantasy, Wildlife, Pin-Ups and more. He works mainly on mammoth ivory and the detail is amazing. He was employed by the Alaska Silver and Ivory Company in Bellingham, Washington back in 1973 when there was a renewed interest in scrimshaw that lasted until the 1980′s, then became a freelance artist to this day.
Michael also does custom scrimshaw on request. Please visit the sites below for inquiries on custom scrimshaw.
The pricing for his work is a real bargain for collectors and non-collectors alike. You can see and purchase some of his work at this site:
Nick works on traditional as well as man-made materials and has a wonderfully detailed yet rustic texture to his work. His subjects include wildlife, nautical and nudes. We’re hoping to get more information from Nick and we’ll post when there are updates. More pictures of scrimshaw by Nick Finocchio
Update 2013-05-23: If you go to http://www.scrimshanders.com/pages/index.php?sid=2 you can find a number to call and inquire about the upcoming scrimshaw competition. We have called, but so far have only gotten the answering machine. We will keep you posted with any further updates. – Andrew
According to their site, The International Scrimshaw Competition will be taking place on September 15, 2013: “This year’s event will take place at Mystic Scrimshanders new location, 14 Main Street, Wickford, Rhode Island on Saturday, September 15, from 5:30 – 10pm. Activities for the event include a cocktail preview with the artists at Mystic Scrimshanders, followed by dinner and entertainment at the Wickford Yacht Club, on Pleasant Street, Wickford where awards will be announced.”
Their site is in need of some work, but here are a couple of links: the first one is where we quoted from, the second is a link to last years winners and finalists:
Despite the ban of the sale of ivory in California, scrimshaw artists do have alternative materials on which to create their art. Ranging from eco-friendly to man-made, there are materials that can be utilized, but buyer and seller beware, and familiarize yourselves with local laws and ordinances. (see http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/PEN/3/1/15/2/s653o).
Bone and antler from non-endangered species. This includes cow bone, shed antler, bone and horn from various domesticated animals. One of our favorite sources is Boone Trading Company (http://boonetrading.com), who also offers a lot of pre-embargo ivory, hippo and warthog ivory and mammoth ivory.
An interesting material that can be scrimshawed on as well as carved is ostrich egg and emu egg – see video below:
Other natural materials that come close to ivory include tagua nut which can be found as slices as well as whole nuts, and an interesting palm nut called an Ivory nut from the Solomon Islands which is difficult to find and expensive.
Shells of different types also lend themselves to scrimshaw such as pearl laminate and other seashells. Since the dust from these materials are an extreme irritant, using a HEPA type dust mask is essential. This is true for the other materials as well, since bone dust and wood dust are also lung irritants.
Man Made Materials
Man-made materials are mostly plastics and mixtures. These include acrylic, melamine (often used for cutting boards, plastic plates and bowls – hard to find as sheets of sufficient thickness, do not confuse this with the melamine laminate you find in the big box stores), nylon (such as switchplate covers), paper micarta (linen and canvas micarta are often used for knife handles, but these are too rough to work with as scrimshaw), PVC, “fimo“,”Premo” “Sculpey“. and cellulose nitrate – though this is considered a hazardous material. The problem with cellulose nitrate is that it is explosively flammable. Used as an alternative to ivory for billiard balls back in the 1800′s, a poorly held cigar or too hard a hit would make the billiard balls explode with a report similar to a gunshot. People would hit the deck, draw their guns and sometimes overreact: “… An owner of a billiard saloon in Colorado wrote to Hyatt about the explosive tendencies, saying that he did not mind very much personally but for the fact that every man in his saloon immediately pulled a gun at the sound. …“(1) While it can still be found today, it’s flammability and the shipping restrictions makes it less than desirable.