The Kraken! A mythical half squid half crab beast from the depths scrimshawed in half hour to hour increments as time allows. Using the “stipple dot” technique along with lines, this piece started with a “traditional” tool, then moved to a Coulter Precision scribe, and the difference is quite visible.
Finally finished the Kraken scrimshaw with a coat of archival wax and a couple of touchups. “The Kraken is a mythical sea monster first documented in 1250 in Iceland. Pierre Denys de Montfort penned the original illustration in 1801, after he was inspired by a description from 1783 of an eight-metre long tentacle found in the mouth of a sperm whale. The ancient piece of mammoth ivory measures 15/16″x 1-1/2”, and was hand scribed using a tungsten carbide scribe from Coulter Precision Tools (also on Etsy). The pigment is Windsor and Newton Oil Paint, has been coated with an archival wax and placed inside a frame. Comes with a write-up about the piece signed by the scrimshaw artist including “Kraken Lore” and the care of ivory. I do very few pieces during the year, and this one was done over several months in early 2012.
After starting a truss rod cover for fun, then realizing I just committed to making a left-handed cover instead of the right handed cover intended, I went back to the Kraken to fill in the waves and darken it down to balance it. At this point it will sit for a week or so to let it kind of gel in my mind. The left hand side needs one line removed, the right hand side needs the mountains “de-stippled”, but beyond that, it’s done – or at least I am done working on this piece. You realize at some point that this is as far as you can go with a piece of scrimshaw, and if you continue on fixing this and “improving” that, you will end up sanding it down and having nothing but ivory dust to show for it. I am close to this point on the Kraken, and have learned a lot at every session. Once complete, it will get a couple of coats of archival wax, then it will either go onto etsy.com or be sold elsewhere.
Digital pictures are a blessing, since I will have copies of the whole process, and will keep them on the site as well. The sun has finally come out, and it’s time to get on to growing things, but there will still be Saturday mornings devoted to nice quiet bug-free work over coffee and ivory.
Finished the rat lines, started the waves. On the original, the waves were created as many fine lines for the dark water leaving areas blank for the white caps. The upper right where I started I scribed very lightly, and as I went across and down, I became more aggressive. The lower right is just about perfect, though I will have to work in the stipple dots to minimize their prevalence. The mid-left did not fill in very well, and I realized I was scribing them at an angle instead of straight up and down, so the oil paint wiped right out.
From this point the work will be balancing the light and dark, creating thicker lines and adding more stipple dots to shade “Squidward” – right now he’s looking a bit anemic when I look at the piece unaided by a magnifying glass. A looming question will also be how to present the piece once it’s done?
Rat lines are the rope ladders the sailors use to climb up the masts to tie down, release and maintain the sails and rigging of a ship. On the hapless ship in this illustration, all of the sails were tied, showing many of the ropes and the arms (legs?) of the Kraken. Used the straight edge of a postcard to steady many of the lines and went freehand with the horizontals. While not in the original picture, the rat lines on our scrimshaw are being squeezed more firmly above the central crow’s nest. Filled in a bit more of “squidward” but I don’t want to further shade the head since the ocean has not been touched yet. Next step will most likely be completing the rat lines, then the ocean. Still unsure about the background – I had put the mountain horizon on the upper right, so either the mountains will be there or some clouds.