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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
Something I did a long time ago...

No matter how cool one's stringing is, I discovered (and mentioned, I know, only a few times on this site) it didn't get me into art fairs. I never really did much with the beaded embroidery, so having learned scrimshaw from another SCAer, and, eventually, having found a documented source of elephant ivory, I started doing this to get myself juried into shows. In retrospect, it's rather amusing to recall how my customers’ eyes would glaze over as I earnestly assured them that I'd searched three years to find properly documented elephant ivory, so they could rest easy, knowing their purchase wasn't leading to elephantine slaughter.

This piece was originally the focal for a triple strand necklace, subsequently taken apart. The ivory was originally about 30x40mm. Lampblack ink on elephant ivory. This is a very early piece: I remember the necklace for which it was focal being particularly ill-designed and awkward. Circa 1984? (or 86).

All that changed when PBS ran a special on illegal elephant ivory. Same story, but the customers, now, instead of being bored, were disbelieving. If ever there was a lesson in the power of the media and peoples’ perceptions, this was it. 80% of all elephant ivory is illegal, they cried (much of it going to Hong Kong to be made into carvings and beads—and once I found this out, I promptly stopped buying ivory beads, which I love, love, loved. Now they're not even available any more) forgetting, perhaps, that maybe I was buying out of the 20% that wasn't. In fact many scrimshanders, being aware of the situation, make and have made a real effort to avoid illegally harvested ivory.

Explaining that those of us in the trade, who therefore were perhaps just a tad more sensitive to the issues, was a lost cause. Still is, as far as I know, though lost causes remain a specialty. Some scrimshanderers went to the fossilized walrus ivory. I tried that. Some etched on bone. I tried that. Bone actually takes acrylic pigments better than the real ivory, but it's very grainy, as you'll see on the close up of this piece. But nothing touches real elephant ivory for real, authentic, black carbon-ink traditional scrim, so I basically packed up my ivory, hunted around for something else, and took up metalworking instead.

(I wrote the above years ago; as I made the piece over two decades ago. Note that the seahorses are quite a bit more realistic than this one, which has the ‘folded style fin’ I discuss in this seahorse page. I finally dug a bunch of my old scrim out of a drawer and photographed it, including this piece.)

Photo 20090818; page created 19dec09.


scrimshaw busks; educational head shaving. 09oct2015


Scrimshandered Persian cat on fossilized walrus ivory. Late 80s, early 90s. Photographed 14jan10, posted 25jan2012


2 or 3 years after photographing this piece, I finally got around to posting it. 24jan2012


After years of having just the one admittedly cool necklace, I finally got around to posting some other pieces, and making a proper index page for scrimshaw. originally scheduled, 24dec09. (re?)posted 23jan2012


Two egyptian style cats from long ago: 2 walrus ivory scrimshandered pendants. Originally posted 25jan10. 25jan2010


Two tabbies from long ago: 2 walrus ivory scrimshandered pendants. Originally posted 19jan10. 19jan2010


Two dragons from long ago: 2 walrus ivory scrimshandered pendants. Originally posted 22jan10. 22jan2010


Scrimshandered butterfly fairy, made in 88, and finally posted 19dec09. 19dec2009


(Theoretically) added 27dec03, this page of a favorite necklace , was revised 19dec09 and posted on the 21dec09. 21dec2009


An old piece of SCA-themed scrimshaw is newly posted , 07jan10. 07jan2010


This seahorse–now a quarter century old—owes its beautifully folded tail to Sandy Schreiber. Originally posted 22jan12.


A sad story behind a happy dragon. Originally posted 11jan10. 11jan2010


Just the one necklace , but I think it's cool. Added 27dec03 22may2004



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