Picture of Easy Scrimshaw for Beginners
Scrimshaw, the etching or carving of bone, tooth , shell, or ivory (ivory may be illegal unless obtained before the laws were passed)
Usually done by sailors (1800's) on long voyages to pass the time.
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Step 1: Get some Scrimshaw stuff to etch or carve

Picture of Get some Scrimshaw stuff to etch or carve
You will need something to etch or carve. Usually, shell, bone, antler, or ivory. I have tried, bone ,antler,  teeth, ivory, polymer (ivory simulation), shell and glass! I found an old piano that had real Ivory keys. What a find! Then I found some keys that look exactly like the Ivory ones, but they were polymer plastic look- alikes. You can test for real ivory by heating a needle, held with plyers till red hot on the end. Touch to the key and if it goes into it easily its plastic, the Ivory will not puncture or melt like the plastic ones. Also grind and edge,  one will smell like plastic and the other won't.

Step 2: Tools of the Trade

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I made most of my Scrimshaw tools. Anything really sharp will do. An old record player needle, inserted in a wood scrap, is one of my faves. Old dental tools, big needles,  etc... If it works for you , then use it. But it must have a comfortable handle. Test stuff out till you find what works for you.

Step 3: Get to work (its fun)

Picture of Get to work (its fun)
Get comfy, some good lighting is essential, relax, you can't rush this! Choose a subject. Sailing ship, whales, seashore scenes, lighthouses, dolphins, mermaids, etc... Anything  that you choose. I did a Lion, in reverse Scrimshaw once. The background was black and the lion was white. See pict. 

Step 4: Blacken the Ivory

Picture of Blacken the Ivory
You must blacken the Ivory to see what you have etched. Shoe polish or soot & oil mix, or crayon will work. Remember once you etch its not eraseable. So sketch in pencil first and have pics and drawings at your side for reference.

Step 5: Blackened Ivory

Picture of Blackened Ivory

Step 6: Get some pics to look at

Picture of Get some pics to look at
Get some pics of the subject you want to etch. The more the merrier. Remember you have to shrink it down to fit on your Ivory, shell, or bone. Steady hands and sharp eye! Practice on a scrap piece first. You will get better as you go.
superrust3 years ago
At what point do you describe the actual etching process?
triumphman (author) 3 years ago
Wow, if I could win the Epelog Laser Cutter Challenge Contest I could make some awesome stuff! Please vote for my Instructable! Thanks.
triumphman (author) 3 years ago
Have you voted yet?