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Hops' Scrimshaw
The Home of "Elephant Friendly Scrimshaw"

Custom Portraits

For more information on
and Current Elephant Populations
In 3 other Africa countries
go to

Here are a few portraits I've had the pleasure of working on. Please take your
time and look through them or add our site to your favorites and come
back when you do have the time, we have a lot to see.

At the bottom I explain some of the techniques and procedures I use when
doing portraits, not that I have any method more exotic or time saving
than any other Scrimshander but I also don't have anything to hide.
I've told many beginning Scrimshanders that have come to me for advice,
"how you get there isn't important, if the end product is the best you can do."

NOTE: We require a 30% deposit with the order, which is
based on the estimated final cost. Also, once we quote a price range
we guarantee we will not go over it.

This gentleman was an avid salt water fisherman, his wife commissioned this piece and after telling me a little bit about him she asked if I could do a piece with a boat leaving the dock. As Christians they certainly believed in life after death and when I presented the piece to her, I didn't need to explain, she said, "He's looking down from Heaven and everything's okay."
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I'm sorry, I shipped this piece without getting photos, these are ones the customer took.

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This portrait was made to hang in a glass dome as many of our custom pieces are. The ivory piece was a cross section of an Elephant tusk about 3/16" thick. The piece was prepared with a groove around the perimeter then wrapped with a square, twisted, sterling silver wire, creating a simple but nice looking frame. Before I take on a portrait project I like to learn a little about the people or person I'm doing it of. In this case the Father was a Stone Mason and the Mother loved to work in her rose garden. This photo shows a tiny little trowel and a rose I made with sterling silver to place on the glass dome's base.

Scrimshanders, have you ever been asked to do a portrait of
who had passed away and had the person giving you the
commission say, "I wish it were possible to get 6 or 8 more for
other friends or family members."

With our Reproduction Service NOW YOU CAN,
you could offer them the 6, 8, or whatever
they need at a very reasonable price.

Check out our Reproduction Service

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When the gentleman asked me to do this portrait of his wife, he asked if I could put a Turkey wing feather in her hair and show her with bare shoulders, I assured him I could. He told me this piece would be going in a sterling silver bracelet he was making for himself. Sometime later he showed me the finished bracelet and it was very, very nice, He was truly a gifted Silver Smith.

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It was a real pleasure working on this Damascus letter opener made by Master Knife Maker, J.P. Miller of Fairbank, Iowa. the handle is some really nice Mastodon Ivory.

Okay, so this isn't really a portrait per say but it is a portrait of who Jesus Was and Is. In John 21: 15 - 17 Jesus is instructing Simon Peter to "Feed My Sheep." I know I will never be able to adequately put the words of our Lord Jesus Christ into picture form but I am humbled by the opportunity to try. I can only pray that Reverend Terry Cosier will live a long life and feed many of the Lords sheep the word of God and fill His pastures in Heaven with untold numbers to sing His praises for Eternity.

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SCRIMSHANDERS, in the note above I suggested you should maybe CONSIDER our REPRODUCTION SERVICE as a means to provide your customer with additional pieces that look identical to the master engraving, with the exception of the material of course. You could provide them with as many pieces as they need without them spending their life savings.

The piece below fits that scenario to a "T." The husband (Skip) of this lady (Virginia) ordered the engraving, then before I started on it I asked him, if he had the chance would he like one for each of their two sons, or more if he wanted. As it turned out we did the original engraving and 10 reproductions which we mounted on 4" dia. walnut plaques with a keyhole slot on the back for hanging on the wall. Needless to say he was very pleased, as were his 2 sons and 8 of their closest friends. Now you can offer your customers the additional pieces they want at a very reasonable price, click this link to learn more about our "Reproduction Service."

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Here's the photo of Virginia I was sent to work from. I used Adobe Photoshop to convert the image to black & white, then I lightened it up a bit as well as adjusted the contrast, so I could see just the main features of her face and hair more clearly. Her husband wanted her to be in a Buckskinner camp (a Living History Event) scene with the Tipi in the background. Virginia was a spinner and weaver so I bordered the piece with a hand woven sash. Her Buckskinner friends gave her a Native American name many years ago which was "Grass Singing," If you look close you can see musical notes wafting through the grass in the foreground.

Shown at Approx Actual Size
of 2-3/16" wide by 2-3/4" tall

Skip & Virginia are very close friends, when we first got started doing living history events they tucked us under their wings and showed us all of the do's and don't's. We camped next to then for nearly 25 years at many events and got to know them as close as you would your own family members, In fact, they are truly part of our family and will always be. I know now they are with the Lord spending Eternity together.

Here's the line drawing I made from the photo above, I reduced it down with my computer to fit on the ivory, then with a very sharp glovers needle I transferred the image to the ivory, I explain this process in more detail below.

Virginia went to see the Lord on
March 10, 2007

Skip went to be with her on
February 28, 2014

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NOTE: We require a 30% deposit with the order, which is
based on the estimated final cost. Also, once we quote a price range
we guarantee we will not go over it.

Every Scrimshaw artist has his or her own methods of preparation before starting the actual Scrimshaw project, especially if the job at hand is a portrait of a child, a parent or another loved one. If the artist is doing a bear, a deer, a fish or whatever, if you're reasonably close with all of the proportions, shading, etc. that's okay, chances are nobody will notice but if you're doing a portrait of a family member, your layout and finished engraving has to be SPOT ON.

This photo shows the steps I use
when I'm doing a portrait, as described in the paragraph below.

The Scrimshaw portrait at the right
is a little larger than its actual size.

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The method I use to transfer an image from a photo
to the ivory or other material.

Depending on the size of photo I'm given to work with, I may scan it into my computer, enlarge it, or reduce it and convert it to black & white then print it out, I like to work from something about 4" x 6" or a 5" x 7" if possible. The next step is to lay a sheet of clear acetate over the photo I converted to black & white and with an artists technical ink pen I trace over only the main features in the photo. In the line drawing above I tried to capture to much detail and when I transferred the sketch to the ivory, as described further down, I had to many dots and couldn't tell what went where, so I had to re-sand the dots off of the ivory piece and start over. Once I've traced just enough to maintain the proper proportions, once again, I scan the tracing into the computer and reduce it to size I need to fit on whatever material I'm working on. I spray a very thin coat of artist's adhesive on the back of my paper pattern and place it on the material, then carefully, using a very sharp needle, I poke dots through the paper into the material, being careful not to miss any really important lines, like the lips, or an eye. With the pattern transferred, the paper can be removed and a little ink applied to make the tiny little dots show up more clearly, then it's just connect the dots, well, I guess it's a little more involved than that but preforming these steps to do portraits helps me maintain the proper proportions, On the portrait of Virginia above, for some reason I was a little nervous so I actually did a mold with most of her done, then made a couple of copies just to make sure I hadn't messed it up. Also, I tell anyone I'm helping to get started, whether I'm working on an animal or a portrait of a person, I always do the mouth, nose and eyes first, if you get them right, the rest just falls into place. Also, at that point if you have to sand them off and start over you only have hours invested, not days.

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We Also Do
Portraits of Farms & Homes
We also do portraits of homes, barns and other structures, or just about any person, place or thing you have fond memories of. This was a large house that was converted into a law office. The stone pillars holding the sign were fashioned after the original stone pillars that hold up the covered front porch. This photo is to small to see it but the house originally had a red clay tile roof like you sometimes see on Spanish style homes, since this was a drawing I was able to show it that way

This was my Grandpa's barn, it was built in 1926 and was used back then to
raise horses for the calvary. I hold in my heart many wonderful memories of this old barn as well as the other buildings, timber and creeks around the farm. I don't remember how many acres the farm had but there was always some place to explore. I don't think we ever missed a Sunday going up to Grandpa's farm. As I got older I was even allowed to spend a week or two every summer, helping with milking, slopping the hogs and other daily chores. Later on, as most boys do, I fell in love with the most beautiful girl I had ever seen and when she turned 16 her folks would allow her to go to the farm with me. Well, I think my Grandpa took a liking to her as well, as kids we were never allowed to go into the hen house, we weren't even allowed to play anywhere near it, you can imagine how surprised I was when Grandpa asked her to go gather eggs with him, I thought that was neat, I would finally get to see the inside of the hen house but no, I had to wait outside while her and Grandpa went in and gathered eggs. I married that girl and we raised 2 boys who made many Sunday trips to Grandpa's farm with us. Politicians may take away from us many things but they will never take away the memories we hold dear. I just hope and pray my Grandchildren will have memories of their youth that they will cherish like the ones I have of my youth.

One of my favorite quotes is;

Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take,
it is measured by moments that take your breath away.

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