Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Scrimshaw project...

This summer I started teaching myself a form of the traditional craft of scrimshaw, which by basic definition is any sort of carving of bone or horn. Usually the term refers to the practice of sailors on whaling ships whittling designs into whale teeth or baleen in their idle time (then rubbing ink or lamp black into the carvings to highlight them), but the practice spans regions and cultures globally. I'm particularly interested in the incarnations of scrimshaw on powderhorns in the Northeastern U.S. during the Seven Year's War - primarily a product of downtime during the colonial exploits of French and British troops that generated a unique folk art and aesthetic particular to a time and region.

The first horn I worked on is a sketchbook of sorts, and includes the original German iteration of my last name as it was brought to Eastern Pennsylvania by the Mennonite Heinrich Schlieffer in 1743. I also worked in some Pennsylvania German design, flowers and hens, from a spice cabinet that I've had since my childhood.

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