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the ancient art of scrimshaw


From: Mark Alexander (malexander06_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Jul 01 2001 - 04:35:00 PDT

I've done real scrimshaw, with Charles Manghis, a friend of mine who is a
scrimshander in Nantucket. He was an art teacher in the Lexington Concord
area, but his scrim art drew him away. He has become very successful. His
scrim is very much in demand. His drawings are very delicate, with lots of
hatching and cross hatching.

Historically, scrimshaw is done on elephant ivory, whale bone, or whale
teeth. All controlled substances now, and most scrimshaw being done today is
being done on antique ivory and bone, or that man made dental material...the
name of it escapes me now.

But there is some ivory available, if you keep your eyes open. Whenever you
see an old piano on the curb for trash pick up, slam on the brakes and get
out your pocket knife. The keys are ivory on the old pianos, and pop right
off with a twist of a knife in the right place. Usually there are enough
pieces of ivory on an old piano keyboard for a whole class to try their hand
at scrimshaw. There are plastic keys on the newer keyboards, but they can be
used for scrim as well. They're a great size and shape for scrimshaw, and
work well with pin backs. Actually, in Charlie's early days as a scrimshader
in the 70's, he made jewelry and belt buckles that he sold at Grateful Dead
shows, and if I recall correctly, many of those pieces were reclaimed ivory
from piano keys.

Of course my old standby for classroom scrimshaw is ivory colored switch
plates. Great gifts, too.


----- Original Message -----
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To: "ArtsEdNet Talk" <>
Sent: Saturday, June 30, 2001 1:27 PM
Subject: Re: any more ideas for plaster of paris?

> A project of the ancient art of scrimshaw...