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Hops' Scrimshaw
The Home of
"Elephant Friendly Scrimshaw"

Welcome to our
"Works In Progress Page

Use These Links to Navigate this page

Currently in the Works
Past Projects
Map Horn

To help those of you who don't understand how reproductions are made,
here's a brief explanation, well.......... as brief as I can make it,
I have been accused of being long winded.

The tools I use

Using a piece of pre-ban Elephant ivory, mammoth ivory or whatever man made material I decide to use, I carve or shape the material, in the case of the Otters above, a flat front triangular shaped piece. I polish it to a high gloss finish. I then create a paper pattern of the design, I often use the computer to reduce a pencil sketch down to the size required to fit the piece I'll be working on, then with a very sharp needle I poke through the paper making fine little dots in the surface of the material. Using those dots as a guide I proceed with the engraving. I use a small X-acto stencil cutting knife and a re-shaped glovers needle to make the cuts, scratches and dots that make up the image. Normally a Scrimshander would apply ink to the cuts and scratches as he or she goes,

however, if reproductions are going to be made using the engraving as a master, no ink can be applied as you go, the engraving has to be kept absolutely clean so the mold material can flow into the cuts and scratches which will in turn produce highly detailed reproductions with virtually no loss of detail. The obvious draw back to this is, not being able to ink as you go, however, with a little practice it becomes easier than you would think, I call this "working in the blind," while doing the engraving I see in shades of gray what will end up being shades of black when the ink is applied. After I've gone as far as I feel comfortable we make a "Test Mold" and pour a couple polymer samples, we apply ink to the samples and use them as reference to look at and do further work on the master engraving, we repeat the "Test Mold/Sample" process as many times as it takes until the polymer samples come out looking like I want. At that time we determine the master engraving needs no additional work, at that point that last mold actually becomes the first "Production Mold."

This is what the finished engraving looked like before making molds of it. All of the engraved lines, dots, etc. must be kept absolutely clean to allow the mold material to flow into them.

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Current "Works in Progress"
November 2016

White Dove

While working in my shop I've been listening to stories and scripture from the Bible, and for some reason I've been drawn in to different accounts about Noah and the Ark. In the midst of my learning about Noah and the GREAT FLOOD the hit movie staring Russel Crowe became available to purchase on DVD. After viewing the movie my wife and I were so disappointed at how incorrectly the story of Noah was presented in the movie, we should have read the reviews first. About the only thing good about the movie was some awesome computer animation.

This is the White Dove (from the Bible) Noah sent from the Ark to return later with an olive branch showing Noah the flood waters were receding and it wouldn't be long until they could leave the Ark.

Both of these designs are from their "First Test Molds." On the Dove all I have to do is work on the background a bit so it doesn't look blotchy.

On the Moose I still need to do a little more shading. I haven't decided yet, I might put a couple of birch trees in the background showing the moose coming from a birch tree thicket into a grassy area to feed.

I think it would be really cool to get one of these big bruisers with a long bow, but then if you did get one like this and had the head mounted, where would you hang it? The average person doesn't have a room in their house with high enough ceilings to hang a big critter like this, Oh well, shoot now and worry about that later.


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A few "Works in Progress" designs that have been
"completed" and are now available for purchase.

Clicking on the images below will take you to their
order page where you can select the type of mounting
you want and place an order.


Here are a few more deigns that have occupied the "Works in Progress" page over the last year and a half or so.

Further down you will find photos of a "Map Horn Project"
With an explanation of how I use it at Living History Events we participate in.

(Click Here)

Click on the image to
view additional medallions

Custom project (NOT FOR SALE)











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See how a piece you created, looks like as a reproduction
FOR A LIMITED TIME, we will lead you through the "Test Mold" process

For more information

MAP HORN PROJECT started fall of 2013

I've started a new project that will keep me busy for quite some time, it's a powder horn, or a "Map Horn" to be more precise. I demonstrate how Scrimshaw is done and explain the history of the art form at the different Living History Events we participate in throughout the year. This horn lets me show the progression of the engraving from a pencil sketch, to cutting in the basic outline, then detailing and inking the designs. Since I only work on the horn at these events, it will probably take a few years to complete. Below are more photos and in depth explanations of the project.

I will try to update my progress on this horn as the work progresses.


Up till now I have never done a powder horn unless I had been commissioned to do one, simply because they just take so much time. When we're set up to sell our products at living history events, art shows, etc. I demonstrate how Scrimshaw is done. I've always worked on a piece the size of a half dollar or smaller and it's difficult to show the progression of how Scrimshaw is done using a piece that small. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before but I decided it would be much easier to show the progression of how Scrimshaw is done starting with a pencil sketch, then engraving the outline, then coming back to do the detailing and inking as I go. The photos below will; help me explain this process.

On our History page I have a section titled "From the Sea Inland." I've told you the art of Scrimshaw was first practiced by American Sailors and Whalers while out hunting Whales on the square rigged wooden ships that traveled the oceans of the world in search of the great beasts to extract the oil from their blubber. Now I will tell you, that statement is not totally true. On the Whaling ships the Sailors and Whalers did their Scrimshaw work while there was nothing else on the ship for them to do, you can imagine how someone could go stir crazy cramped up on a relatively small ship if they didn't have something to occupy their free time. Well, during the same time period of commercial Whaling, everyone that lived on land and owned a riffle or gun of some kind, which included most every man, they also had a "Powder Horn" that carried the black powder needed to load their gun, cartridge firearms as we know them, weren't introduced until around the end of the Civil War. Now I don't mean to imply every powder horn was Scrimshawed, in fact, I'll say the vast majority of powder horns had no Scrimshaw at all, with the exception of some that may have had the owners name crudely scratched on it somewhere. Most of the horns of that period were very crude, if it kept the owner's powder dry it served the purpose it was intended for and that was all the owner cared about. In Museums you can find very ornately engraved horns dating back to the French and Indian war from 1754 to 1763 and before, certainly they were being engraved during the same time period as the Whales teeth were being engraved on the Whaling ships. Like the Whalers, when the Soldiers weren't marching or fighting, they had a lot of time on their hands so why not do some scratching on your powder horn. There are some amazing examples of powder horns created during the period of the French and Indian war as well as the Revolutionary war and even the Civil War. The art work included maps of where battles were fought, images of the Forts they attacked or defended. Many of the horns from the wars and Whale's teeth from Whaling voyages were engraved by their owners, however, some of the finer examples were done by "Professional Scrimshaw Engravers." I'm sure it didn't take long for individuals who excelled in the art of doing Scrimshaw engravings to be sought after to do his ornate style of Scrimshaw work on other people's teeth or horn's. This individual may have just been fellow Sailor, Whaler or Soldier that was kept so busy doing work for others, he started charging for his work. A few realized they could make some serious money doing what they loved doing so they opened up a shop. The art of embellishing powder horns started to slow down after the Civil War due to the introduction of the "Cartridge Riffles and hand guns," with the powder being contained in a brass cartridge, powder horns were no longer needed. If you want do more reading check out the links below, or go to our "HISTORY OF SCRIMSHAW" page.

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I start off by drawing pencil sketches on the horn then I have to spray a very thin coat of clear artist fixative over the pencil sketch to keep the pencil lines from rubbing off while I'm working on other parts of the horn (clear acrylic or lacquer will work too). It doesn't take much fix to hold the pencil and you don't want it to build up when you're spraying adjacent sketches. The thing I like about the artists fix is, I can easily erase through it to make adjustments if I need to. The pencil drawing to the left is of a Keel Boat going through some rapids somewhere on the Missouri River.
I said this was going to be a "Map Horn," well,
on this portion of the horn I've drawn several rivers with mountain ranges in between them. I've named several of the rivers frequented by Trappers, there's the Madison, Jefferson and the Wind River, then there's the Powder, Tongue and Big Horn rivers that Custer made famous. I intend to add the names of a few mountains as well. Below the map you can see the pencil sketch of an Eagle, I cut in and inked the upper outline of its wings just to make sure I didn't end up running a river through them. There is much more to the Eagle than is shown here but I will wait until I've done some engraving on it before I show the rest.

Here's a better view of the scroll work around the butt end of the horn, in the upper right corner where the 2 cords that weave in and out and around each other meet and are tied into a square knot. You'll notice I've taped off the walnut butt plug and around the tip, or spout of the horn (below) I've done this to keep from getting any of the spray fix on them. I'll keep the tape on until I'm finished just in case I have a need to re-spray anyplace on the horn again. Also, the tape on the butt plug will help keep it from getting dinged up when I'm fumbling around trying to get the horn in the right position to work on the different areas

Around the spout I've done a little scroll work that includes some Eagle feathers in with the design. On the bottom side of the horn the feathers are still just in pencil, then on the upper portion of the horn in this photo I've cut in the outline of the feathers, then I've finished detailing some of the feathers and darkened in the Buffalo hoof prints between the feathers. I'll probably leave these feathers until the last to finish because they show the progression from pencil to the finished engraving so well.

Here, on what will be the back side of the horn is an Indian village mostly in pencil yet, I think the one that I've cut and inked the outline on was probably when someone asked how I do that and I had nothing engraved and not inked, so I quickly cut in the outline and applied a little ink, hopefully they went away happy and more informed. The streak you see above the Tipis is just a discolored streak in the horn,
I think I can do a little stippling and make it look like storm clouds.

The compass like symbol on this horn is called a "Mariners Star," or sometimes called a "Nautical Star." On this horn next to the rivers and mountains it is to point out North and other directions. On Whaling ships the ship's Captain tracked their location in the oceans using a Sextant, with this instrument and navigational charts he could plot their latitude and longitude which was their current location in a vast ocean. This was done by measuring the angel of certain stars at night and the angel of the sun at noon each day. Sailors often had 2 mariner stars tattooed on their chest, one for day and one for night, therefore they could never be lost at sea.

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