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How-To: Scrimshaw

Craft & Design


Scrimshaw is the old whaling art of engraving intricate patterns and images into ivory. If you have some old piano keys hanging around, you can make some interesting art pieces using this scrimshaw tutorial by Paul Baxendale of Providence, RI. Growing up I used to go to Mystic Seaport and learn all about whaling culture, and the scrimshaw and blacksmith stops were right up there in coolness factor with the printing press and ship rigging for me.

4 thoughts on “How-To: Scrimshaw

  1. Laura in Portland says:

    what about white plastic dominoes, or tagua nut? just a thought so we don’t rip up vintage pianos

  2. Anonymous says:

    As a weird kid growing up in a rural area with no TV & loads of free time, I used to do scrimshaw using cut up plastic milk jugs, sewing needles and india ink, so plastic does work quite well.
    I must say though, as an adult, I am now tempted to try this with some of the sheep bones that I’ve collected from the family farm…

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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