Scrimshaw is an American folk art form in which designs are etched into ivory or bone, then colored with ink.Even though you can’t legally use whale ivory, it’s still possible to practice folk art as well.It is a matter of tracing, etching, and inking your design onto a piece of ivory substitute or bone once you have gotten the right materials.
Step 1: You can find a piece of ivory substitute or bone.
The most effective surface to use is bone.If you don’t have access to bone, the next best ivory substitute would be a shell.If you have access to it, you can use old ivory piano keys.
Step 2: If you want to make precise etches, get a scribing tool or a needle and pin vise.
A pin vise is a handheld tool used to better hold a pin.The best way to make controlled, precise etches onto your piece of ivory is with a small, sharp scribing tool or needle.If you don’t have access to a pin vise, you can use a pen-like X-acto knife with a replaceable head.Place a pin in the front of the knife.If you want to be more traditional, you can use a pocket knife.It is more dangerous to make art with a knife than it is to use a needle or scribing tool.
Step 3: Make sure your workspace has a good light source.
A well-angled light above the surface is needed to see the etched lines and dots on the ivory surface.You can use a light source to find the best angle when you are working.A lamp with a bright bulb is best.
Step 4: If you don’t have a Dremel, use a cloth.
The microfiber cloth has a surface made of microfiber.For about 5 minutes, you can work the beeswax into the surface.When the ivory has a uniform surface, Rub the wax cloth against it.
Step 5: If you have access to a Dremel, apply it with a wheel.
Attach a buffing wheel to a Dremel tool and hold up a block of beeswax to charge it.The wheel will be coated with a layer of beeswax.The wheel can be used to apply the beeswax evenly to the ivory.To seal the ivory or bone, be sure to coat it completely.Since ivory is likely to be very porous, it is important to seal your surface.The ink that is tattooed into the ivory is kept from spilling over into other parts of the body.You should use any surface you want for your art.
Step 6: To remove the beeswax, buff the ivory with a clean cloth.
Before you begin etching your ivory or bone surface, all the beeswax you just used to seal it needs to be removed.Before moving on, use a clean cloth to wipe the surface clean.This will leave you with a sealed surface to work on.The ivory should look shiny but not waxy.
Step 7: Find an image of the design you want to draw and shrink it to the ivory’s size.
Measure the surface area of your bone or ivory to draw your image.You can find an image of your design on the internet.Shrink it down so that it is less than the surface area of your ivory.Shrink the image so that there is more space on all sides.You will want a small drawing for your design.It’s best to have a sketch-like image with good outlines and some shadow.Since you could also draw your design by hand, this isn’t required.It is much harder to make precise outlines on a small surface if you are not experienced in this kind of art.
Step 8: The image can be printed on a sheet of paper.
If you weren’t able to find a digital version of your design, you’ll have to copy it to a sheet of paper.If you have a copy of your design on a sheet of paper, you can place it over your piece of ivory.Draw the image so that it is about the size of the object you are working on.
Step 9: Cut out the design from the paper in the shape of your object.
Draw an outline of the object over the ivory or bone design on the sheet of paper.You can place your design on top of the object by cutting out the outline.
Step 10: Use a cloth to transfer the cutout of your design onto the ivory.
On top of your bone or ivory object, lay your design face-down.Rub the back of the cutout with a cloth that has acetone nail polish remover on it.Continue until the acetone has soaked through the paper.
Step 11: Take the edge of the paper and peel it.
It will smudge your outline if you move it around on the surface.Once you are done with the paper, discard it.If the outline doesn’t come off the bone clearly, use a piece of paper to etch it.After waxing the surface of your object, you should be able to transfer it again.
Step 12: You can etch the outlines of the illustration with your pin or scribing tool.
Hold the pin as vertical as possible while applying pressure to the bone.A small dot will be created on the surface.Multiple little dots are created along the outline of your illustration.The dots will be close enough to give you a rough outline of your design.If your pin begins to dull, be sure to replace it.
Step 13: The most difficult parts of the design should be removed.
The eyes or face of a person are where the artist is most likely to make a mistake.If you make a mistake, you will only have to sand off a small part of the ivory.Sand away the surface of the bone until your etching is gone if you make a mistake in it.The process of etching should be resumed.
Step 14: Put dots close together to make shaded areas.
If there are parts of your design that need to be darker, place the dots closer together.When you add ink to the design, it will create a darker appearance.If your dots are all about 1 centimetre apart, then placing them in one area will make it appear darker than the surrounding surface.
Step 15: Continue etching the design until you have an outline of the illustration.
Check to see if there are any mistakes that need to be etched.If you can’t see all the mistakes right now, you’ll be able to spot them once you apply ink to the surface.
Step 16: To apply ink to an object, use a cotton swab.
Use a swirling motion to spread a generous amount onto the surface of the ivory after dipping your cotton swab into the ink.Wait for the ink to dry.To quickly wipe the ink off the surface, use a lint-free rag or cloth.You can fill in your etches with squid ink or India ink.If your local art supply store has colored ink, you can use it.There will be a small amount of ink inside the dots.This will give you an idea of what your art will look like.
Step 17: If you want the areas to be darker, apply more ink.
If you want your image to be darker or smoother, simply use your scribing tool or pin to etch those spots a bit deeper or place more dots along the lines.To re- apply ink to those areas, use another cotton swab.To wipe the ink off again, use a clean area of your rag.As necessary, repeat this process.
Step 18: The extra ink should be wiped off of the surface with a clean, lint-free cloth.
The process of applying ink to your design will leave the rest of it dark and swirly.All you have to do is rub the areas with a cloth to get rid of the ink.
Step 19: Twice a year, you should apply beeswax to your piece.
If it is made of real ivory, this will help to maintain its shine.When polishing your piece, use Renaissance Wax or warm beeswax.It’s important for works made of real ivory, but you should still do this at least once a year no matter what material you use.