Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Art of Scrimshaw

I can honestly say that I really had no idea what Scrimshaw was... I had heard the word and sort of knew it had something to do with carvings and whalers... but not much else.

This is the definition from Dictionary.com:
a carved or engraved article, especially of whale ivory, whalebone, walrus tusks, or the like, made bywhalers as a leisure occupation.
such articles or work collectively.
the art or technique of carving or engraving whale ivory, whalebone, walrus tusks, etc.
verb (used without object)
to produce scrimshaw.
verb (used with object)
to carve or engrave (whale ivory or whalebone) into scrimshaw.

A friend, Laurie, had invited me to the Imperial Bone Valley Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Society of Polk County (http://www.bonevalley.net/Home_Page.html)... I was lucky enough to have gotten my mom to watch the boys so that I could go see a demonstration on Scrimshaw.

Some of Bill's pieces (detailed pics towards the bottom)

Bill, the Scrimshander, had set up a little display of his work and spoke about how he created the pieces of art. He also went over how to obtain legal ivory and bone. And what you would need to get started :)

Bill with his set up :)

Bill's work is unbelievable... I could not even imagine trying to work with a sharpened sewing needle to carve perfect lines into bone... He has lived in Florida for a few years now, but used to teach Scrimshaw in Kentucky, as well as a couple other states (I should have taken better notes)...

It takes Bill a week or two to create one piece of scrimshaw... I'm not talking about the huge pieces either... that is a pendant... so the time and love that is put into each piece, is crazy. His pieces of work are priceless in my mind... I ended up leaving with an owl and a marlin :) Trust me, had I brought more money, I would have bought a ton more... 

Bill sets up every weekend at the Market World - Flea Market off Hwy 92 in Auburndale, FL... I always seem to miss him when I got up there... I will continue to go up to the flea market on the weekend... one day, I am bound to catch him :)

The tools of an artist

This is a craft that has been passed down for 8 generations in Bill's family... traditionally you need a steady hand to be able to do such detailed "carvings"... Bill does not have steady hands... he has a disability which causes his hands to shake... he can not even drink a can of soda without holding it with both hands... and yet, he can create these amazing works of art... To me, he is a true inspiration!


Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle


Another Bald Eagle





Elephant Carving

Skull and Eagle


A Horse and her Fowl

If you are free one weekend and want to meet an amazing individual... I highly recommend going to the Auburndale Flea Market to meet Bill :)

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