Katherine Plumer Fine Art

scrimshaw engravings

Thought to be the only truly American art form, scrimshaw has its roots in the New England whalers of long ago, and in the native peoples of Alaska. Images were incised into walrus tusks and whale teeth with sewing needles or other sharp implements, and darkened with ink, paint, or tar.

Nowadays, scrimshanders use a wide variety of materials, from pre-ban elephant ivory to ancient mammoth ivory to modern synthetics. Scrimshaw is the extreme-patience-requiring art of engraving lines/dots into ivory/bone/synthetics, and filling those lines/dots with ink or paint, thereby producing a usually small and often incredibly detailed image.

copyright © 1998-2011 Katherine Plumer, all rights reserved
images may not be used with written permission of the artist