Saturday, January 22, 2011


I love carving ships! Just like my scrimshanding forefathers. :) I imagine it would be alot harder to do if you were actually ON a whaleship, swaying and bouncing around on the high seas, instead of sitting at a bench in your house. I'm getting seasick just thinking about it. Those shanders must have had steady hands!

Friday, January 21, 2011


This Mike Giant print was posted above my work bench for my final year of Jewellery and Object Design at DCE. Although, I was a poor college student and couldn't afford a real print, so it was actually an A3 photocopy from an article I tore from Juxtapoz magazine. Whenever I was struggling to get through the day with cut and burnt fingers, a fine metal dust sweated to my face or steel splinters, I would look up and imagine I was sailing away on the good ship Shenanigans...

Coffee and scrimshaw

These rings are brand new, finished and photographed this morning. They are made from bone and horn. I might wait a little while to list them on Etsy. I'm working on another group of rose rings and some huge horn cuff bangles carved with whaling scenes.   

Note the beautiful handmade porcelain coffee mug. Made by amorelita designs. A lovely gift from my good friend and also very talented designer Bernadette Trainor.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Launch Party Plans...

I was asked by a very good friend today if I was planning on having a launch party for my new range of jewellery. Taking into consideration the fact that the she may just like any excuse to party, I thought this was not entirely a bad idea anyway.

So the plans are being hatched! At this stage, tentative timing is Friday 11 March 2011. Save the date! And I'll keep you posted on further details as they develop.  

Maybe I can get Sailor Jerry Rum to sponsor?! or, if not... I guess I could just buy everyone some.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What is Scrimshaw?

So unless you regularly watch Antiques Roadshow (like me!) you may not know what Scrimshaw is. Basically, I like to think of it as a 18th Century Yankee Whalers version of scrapbooking. It was essentially a craft that evolved out of boredom, utilised the spare raw materials of a whaling ship and could be done by people with all kinds of skill levels.

When the American whaling industry expanded and needed to travel further out to sea to catch more whales, they designed bigger boats that had processing facilities on board. This meant that the men would stay out at sea for years on end, catching and cutting in a whale every few months.

Now before I go any further, before I conjure too many images of whale slaughter, blood and blubber... I'd like to note that I do not hunt whales. Nor do I condone the hunting of whales for sport, 'scientific research', food, spermaceti oil, or Scrimshaw. As a strict vegetarian, I am completely comfortable with the ethics of the materials I use and think the re-use and re-cycling of organic materials such as bone and horn is generally an eco-friendly sustainable practice.    

So, back to the carnage... After the Yankee whalers caught a whale, cut it apart and rendered the fat for oil, they had all this left over ivory. The teeth of the sperm whale were particularly suited to carving and are similar to elephant ivory in their quality and density. This material was useless to the men and seeing as though they had months of spare time in between catching a whale, they distributed the ivory amongst themselves for craft purposes.

The men aboard the ship were from all walks of early American life. Some were craftsmen, some were tradies, ex-criminals or riff-raff. Not many were actually professional sailors. This lead to an amazing variety in quality and type of Scrimshandery. It was a craft that everyone with a spare awl and some lamp black had a go at.

Now, the basic technique is very simple. You take some kind of sharp instrument; a needle, awl, pick or file, and carve a picture into the surface of your polished material.You then take ink, or verdigris, or oily soot and rub it into the picture, making it come alive. In terms of basic technique, it is similar to etching, engraving and tattooing.

In fact, the similarities between early Scrimshaw and early tattooing go even further.... but I might save that intriguing history lesson for another blog post!   

Images: Top Antique Scrimshaw whale tooth Right Horn ship pendant and anchor earrings by Me!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Scrimshaw Jewellery

Love/Hate. Bone and Horn Pendant with Sterling Silver findings.

A selection of brooches from my new range. Bone and natural horn.

Horn anchor earrings with Sterling Silver hooks

Hubby's Xmas present! Hand carved horn plugs with white ink

Bone brooch with brass setting.

A few new pendants, HEAPS more to come!

Bone, or horn.

Bone cherry earrings with Sterling Silver hooks. These are actually teeny tiny (5mm wide)

I'm working on a whole lot more scrimshaw jewellery. All of it will be available to purchase from my Etsy store very soon. I'll keep you posted!