Several months ago, a friend offered me a big bag of bone beads that she was getting rid of. I accepted the offer, in anticipation of my . They’re vintage bone beads or pendants, sliced into random, organic shapes. She sent a huge freezer bag that weighs in at about 2 lbs:
I’ve long been a fan of scrimshaw work and I’ve been hoarding a stash of fossil ivory for a decade or more, in hopes of trying my hand at it some day. These bone beads + the PRU afforded a great opportunity to play with that concept a bit. Albeit, this is more like “faux scrimshaw” than actual scrimshaw, but it does a decent job of replicating the effect.
Here are the results of yesterday’s attempts. It took me a while to figure out settings, and I suspect that there’s still a bit of refining to be done on that count. To add to that challenge, these beads are not uniform - there’s substantial variance in thickness (sometimes even on one bead). I had quite a few unfortunate attempts:
Even so, I did end up with several successful tries, and I intend to keep experimenting. FWIW, these images are magnified, so some of the beads show tiny bits of masking that is not visible to the naked eye. At some point I’ll go back over those lines with a fine beading awl to get the rest of the masking out. If that doesn’t even everything out, perhaps I’ll dab some ink over the image and wipe off the excess as they do with real scrimshaw.
The images that didn’t work were generally JPEGs with a lot of artifacts, or files that had a lot of shading or originally had color. The ones that did work were clean, crisp black and white images (the bees and skulls are slivers from my friend Shala’s mandalas). Some of the ravens look wonky even though the original files were relatively clean - I think this is because there was lots of fine detail in the feathers that just did not translate at this scale?
Last but not least, I’d like to try adding color to some of these, but I’m not sure what to use? I’d like something that would lightly saturate the bone (think watercolor effect) rather than an opaque acrylic that will just sit on top of it. Perhaps ink? For those of you who work with copic markers, might they do the trick?