Project: Fox in the Snow – Scrimshaw on Alternative Ivory

Along with testing alternative materials, I get to create pieces of art and refine my techniques. With Alternative Ivory, I’ve been working on a “Fox in the Snow” – a picture by Rob Lee on This post will be updated and edited as I find interesting information and will pass along any tips and techniques as well.

As stated in the newsletter we found that coating the back of the image to be transferred with an aquarelle pencil then taping the piece to the back of the paper and using the “dot-to-dot” technique on the front pressed the pigment into the material without having to press hard enough to completely pierce the paper. This created smaller dots that were easily seen with magnification but could be ignored during the scrimshaw process and would not detract from the final image.

This is one of the few “furry” scrimshaw pieces I’ve done, mostly working with the more traditional ships and waves, lighthouses and flowers with the occasional loon done on commission. I’m a great fan of Katherine Plumer, who can capture dogs, cats, bears – you name it with such realism that I am in constant awe.  She created a piece with a dog and showed the progression, saving the eyes for last. I’ve got the eyes of the fox “sketched” in where I think they need to be but I’m also saving them for last. “Romeo” in progress, and “Romeo” finished shows a level of artistry and technique I hope to attain (it’s in my bucket list).

So, here’s the progress so far:

Picture of the fox printed on paper with the underside scribbled over with an aquarelle pencil, the alt ivory taped to the bottom with green masking tape.
The paper is on top, the back has been scribbled on with an aquarelle pencil. The alternative ivory is the next layer, then the tape. Picture taken with light behind the paper.
After removing the paper from the alternative ivory that had the underside coated by scribbleing with an aquarelle pencil, the dots are easily visible and not as deep.
After creating the “stipple dots” with the pigment underneath, the dots are easily seen and the dots are much smaller.


Fox scrimshaw on alternative ivory - photo by Rob Lee on
It’s cold in the snow, so I went ahead and put his boots on…
scrimshaw of a fox in the snow on alternative ivory in progress as of 2014-05-31
Filled in the darker fur and some of the ear details.
Fox in the snow in progress 2014-06-01
2014-06-01 Added the eyes and more detail, looked at the pic and realized it needs more shading

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