Lighthouses, Ghosts and Selling Scrimshaw

Point of Ayr Lighthouse, Wales
Photo Credit: Lukasz Lukomski, cc-sa-3.0

“A scrimshaw without a story is just scratches on bones.” – Saul T.; Sailor


Okay, I made that up, though if you think about it awhile you’ll find it’s basically true. Visiting an old whaling town and walking the decks of the Charles W. Morgan and learning her story, most people would be compelled to pick up a memento of their vacation. Memories of a trip to the cape with a loved one could be revisited with the bracelet or the key fob.

While most of us don’t live in Mystic seaport or on Cape Cod, if we’re creating scrimshaw to sell at a craft fair or on line, a memorable story about the subject of your work is far more interesting than “I saw a picture of a ship and I scrimshawed it.”

A story for every piece would be next to impossible for most of us, especially if you’re selling multiple pieces such as jewelry, but for some of the larger pieces a story can be compelling and may bring you more sales, giving you something to talk about. With jewelry, many pieces should be without a story – so people can make their own. Scrimshaw of a twelve point buck will illicit hunting stories, a modern ship or boat the stories of that time on that shore when that thing happened, a rose the love interest or the lover who presented it, or perhaps the silent look into the distance, hopefully with a slight smile.

I’d come across a picture of a lighthouse on the Point of Ayr in Wales. The first article was of the hauntings and got me intrigued. The pics were clear and great for creating some scrimshaw from. The next article described a couple who had come there on their 50th wedding anniversary and asked the person who was painting it to take their picture, as this was where they had their first kiss. Ah, memories.

Scrimshaw based on the Talacre lighthouse.I based my scrimshaw on this picture, adding a ship in the background and a seagull, leaving the rocky outcroppings aside. After I’d finished it, I looked back at the pictures I’d seen and found there was one I liked a little more than the first, so I’ll probably scrimshaw the second view shortly. The first one was head-on, the second you can see the stairway a bit better and I find it more interesting, and I’ll also review the stories and find a few others so my mind and my mood are on the subject.