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The term ivory can be used to describe the teeth or tusks of mammals that are of sufficient size to have commercial value and can be carved or scrimshawed. Ivory has always been among the most sought after of precious materials. Since before recorded history, man has been attracted to its subtle beauty. Ivory has been shaped and carved into innumerable religious, utilitarian and decorative objects. Since the early 19th century it has been the "canvas" for the scrimshander. The early scrimshanders carved and engraved whale and walrus ivory. Contemporary scrimshaw artists have more choices in the types of ivory available, but all of these ivories do have restrictions on them. The following are the four major categories of ivory that are of interest to the present day scrimshander, and general laws and regulations concerning each.
Whale Ivory or Bone
All imports of whale products (teeth, baleen, bone, flesh, oil, etc.) have been banned since 1972. Whale ivory is grouped according to three classifications:
1) Antique- is any tooth that has been determined to be 100 years old or older, dating back from 1972 (1872 or older). This ivory is legal to buy and sell across state lines in any form. 2) Pre-Act Teeth- are teeth that date from 1872 to 1972 and are covered by a U.S. government exemption certificate (only a handful of these certificates were originally issued and are no longer available). These teeth are legal to buy and sell but cannot be shipped across state lines in their raw form (they must be carved or engraved). 3) Any other teeth that were in the country prior to 1972 and not covered by an exemption certificate- These teeth should have a notarized statement from the seller stating that they were in his/her possession, in this country, prior to the 1972 moratorium. These teeth cannot be sent across state lines for commercial resale. The scrimshander must buy these teeth, work on them, and sell them within his state of residence only.
There are two categories of walrus ivory:
1) Fresh (or white) walrus ivory. This is walrus ivory that is relatively new. It looks white compared to the fossil walrus ivory and is generally less than a hundred years old. White walrus ivory can only be purchased from a native Alaskan Indian(i.e. Yupik, Inuit. These indigenous people consider the term 'eskimo' to be derogatory).
The ivory must have some form of native work on it, carved or scrimshawed. It is not legal to buy or sell any unworked fresh walrus ivory. The exception to the rule are tusks that have affixed to them a copper tag with a serial number. These tusks are from an Alaska state culling program in the 1960's and they are legal to buy, sell and trade across state lines as long as the tag is still attached. 2) Fossil, fossilized, (or ancient) walrus ivory. Fossil walrus ivory is very old, ranging from 300 to 3,000 years in age. Excavated from the permafrost in August and September each year, primarily by the coastal Yupik culture, fossil walrus ivory along with mammoth ivory are the most colorful of ivories. The term 'fossil' is really a misnomer, but this is what the material is commonly called. The term 'ancient' is a more accurate one as none of the ivory has yet turned to stone.
Each piece is unique, its color determined by the kind of minerals it has lain with in the earth. The indigenous Indian cultures of the far north have hunted the walrus for thousands of years. Every part of the animal had a use in the survival of these peoples in an often hostile environment. The tusks were shaped into hundreds of objects; mostly tools but also toys and symbolic objects. Only the native people are allowed to dig for fossil walrus ivory on their lands. Once purchased from them it can be sold and resold across state lines at will.
African Elephant Ivory
The African elephant is on the Endangered Species List. As of June 9, 1989 all imports of African elephant ivory into the United States, in any form, are banned. A test to determine the difference between elephant ivory and mammoth ivory, the Schreger lines, has been developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in order to keep any elephant ivory from entering the country under the guise of mammoth ivory. This test alone, while useful, is not definitive for worked ivory. Please read the full text of the Fish & Wildlife page for other indicators and useful information about other types of ivory. Any African elephant ivory that was in the United States prior to June 9, 1989 is legal to buy and sell across state lines. Mammoth Ivory
Mammoth ivory is also in the fossil ivory category. It comes from the extinct wooly mammoth and is extremely old, on the order of about 10,000 years. It is excavated from the permafrost in Alaska and Siberia and its outer rind can be very colorful. Mammoth ivory is softer than elephant ivory. They have a similar end grain pattern, but a test to determine the difference between elephant ivory and mammoth ivory, the Schreger lines, has been developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in order to keep any elephant ivory from entering the country under the guise of mammoth ivory. This test alone, while useful, is not definitive for worked ivory. Please read the full text of the Fish & Wildlife page for other indicators and useful information about other types of ivory. Anyone can dig for mammoth ivory with a permit, and it is legal to buy, sell, and trade across state lines.
FLASHBACK: 1990 - Four children (babies) are dumped on my lap. GOODBYE!! 4 - 3 - 2 & not even one years old.
When children are born - there is no instruction book - ah but yes there is... one book. The BOOK of Proverbs. Written by the Wisest - Richest SMARTEST King that has ever lived - till this day.
I took this new responsibility very seriously. I can't work. There is just no way I can teach my children and go to work. That is impossible; So I decided to stay home; be poor, and accept the role of a welfare parent.
I was going nutz in no time; I had nothing to do (with my hands). I work construction. Always doing something with my hands in the Electrical Field as a high voltage underground cable splicer. 5,000 volts - 25,000 volts certification(s). Paper & Lead.
I had to find something to do (with my hands). I was at a complete loss as to what I needed; I was going insane; and it was apparent, I was loosing it big time. Hey you quit standing on top of the tv - get down.. You !! get your brother out of the frig. quit pushing him in there. I had a wild bunch of untrained undisplined children on my hands that were driving me totally nuts and I am about to loose it big time. I recognize this and I have to make a decision to DO SOMETHING - different. What can I do to overcome this madness ??
I went out and marched the boys up to a crafts store. I didn't even know what I was looking for. I knew I needed something to keep me ... .. very busy!! But what to purchase ?? hmmm... penelope canvas... !! hmmm Interesting... !! I get an idea!! That's all it takes... one IDEA !
Former Alaskan Governor Wally Hickel once said; Ideas' are more powerful than money. He was right, He said it twice during that interview.
I purchased a piece of penelope canvas (very few people even know what I am even talking about at this point.. .. 4 wide foot by 8 foot long
I decided to create.. .. .. .. The Alphabet ! Something so basic. something so simple... ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ .. Yet Extremely detailed and complicated !! I was offered ten thousand dollars for this.. Just as it is. Right in front of Mc Donalds on 4th Ave in 1991. Some filthy rich oil person from Texax or Oklahoma - complete with big western hat with gold belt buckle with clock inside of it. I want that he said... It isn't finished I replied. You are not listening he said.. I want that and I am willing to give you tenk right now!! I said.. .. these words. I am giving this away for free - to the children ward of the Native Hospital and I smiled. He turned and walked away shaking his head.
This image was created 20 years later !!! It is filthy needs to be cleaned. I worked on this non-stop day & night for almost two years. Then I stopped and never picked it up again. UNTIL the day we left Barrow; That was packed in one of the boys backpack. One of the very few items we took from the village.
This thing saved my life..literally. The soothing, healing, theraputic value of needlepoint!! NOT BAD.. .. for a complete 'rookie'!!
You cannot see the writing in the empty spaces at the top and bottom
I wanted to finish this... in this manner.
Top Line: Now; I've stictched my ABC'S
Bottom line: This was made by David Eves!
Adiga Tavra (bottom right) Good - That's Finished! you can see the big exlamation point. And one last stitch on the letter Z was going to be THE LAST STITCH
154 different types of stiches were used in making this. YOUR IMAGINATION: Is a terrible thing to waste. There are just so many very good things you can do with your 'time'!!
This thread has one purpose: To inspire you - so that you - can work @ home. You will never make BIG MONEY working for someone else.
The whole system is designed to keep you working; week - to week - month to month 'just to make ends meet'.
There is only one reason - any of you go to work (daily) for your job. You work for one purpose only. $$$$$ There is no other reason!!
Now I share with you.. A different way - that works!! I got all the PROOF YOU CAN POSSIBLY NEED.
So; lovely lady; you own a dremel; Good for you. I hope these photos inspire you and guide you in ways you never thought possible. Good Luck to you. I sure cracked up BIG TIME when I read what you wrote in the rep! Thank you .. .. 'you sure made my day'!!
Thirty Six pieces are being merged together to build or construct this bracelet. The creation process merely repeats itself 36 times. Just to create this one bracelet. Each bracelet we make is ONE of a KIND. This particular bracelet is going to be a Reverseable Bracelet !!
As you begin to use the Fabuluster compound, you must rip the paper off from the sides of the tube as it depleats inside the tube. Diamond XXX or Diamnd XXXX is another popular polishing compound that Ivory carvers in the arctic use on a regular basis.
Here is an update on the (seemingly) 'conflicting information concerning baleen !
After much research and phone calls, here is what it comes down to: Raw Unfinished Baleen - may not be sold or possesed by a non- native.
The key words here are Raw & Unfinished. That piece of baleen must not have any of the 'meat' or lip portion of the animal still attached to the piece of baleen. The gum like substance found at the bottom of the piece at its widest part.
IN OTHER WORDS; When a non- native purchases baleen- it must be cleaned. There is no scale like substance on the piece. It has been properly cleaned (& polished to some extent.) NOW: ANYONE may purchase it and carve on it.
The baleen we have recently purchased form Alaska Fur Exchange met all these requirements.
Raw Unfinished baleen is always sold at a much cheaper rate. My sons have bought lots in all villages.
10 bucks a foot - is the going rate for blank full size slats of baleen that are all cleaned and to some extent polished. Anyone may buy it and carve or scrimshaw or for ever purpose you want - NO RESTRICTIONS.
Even though two different pieces of baleen may be 10 feet tall - the thickness of some pieces may be waffer thin. Others are as much as 1/2 inch thick in the center most portion of that vertical strip. The vertical edges are always the thinest. The center most portion begins at the base and is quite thick for at least 3/4 of the entire length. Yield is probably a dozen bracelets and close to 100 sets of ear-rings.
SAVING THE DUST: This is something you will learn to do at various stages of all projects you are working on
It provides a seamless way to blend & fix existing blemishes in the ivory
The latest bracelet we finished this morning w/ matching ear-rings. Gorgeous fossil ivory @ its finest! Today is the 12th of April- Ben Franklin has been slapped into the boys hands 16 times in a week and a half. A very slow begining but at least we are making forward progress daily.
Oh yeah; the matching ear-rings -
Some one this board is going to read this and begin to prefab and accumlate a healthy inventory; then fly up to Kotz or Barrow and come back with 10k easily.
Our daily routine in Barrow was to visit: The court house, The NSB, UIC, The hospital (doctors & nurses bought lots). The school district; The Police station, The Bank (sit & wait). AC store (sit & wait). The restrauants; were not interested. OH they loved the expensive bracelets but all they would ever offer was a free lunch! (or less).
This next bracelet is my very first bracelet ever. (Chuckle), It was made in 3D studio Max! My favorite computer program to draw with. Photo realistic (anything) you can possibly think of.
Ivory, the mere mention of the word.. ... sparks interest in people all over the world.
When a tusk is removed from any animals head set; that tusk has a long hollow spot. One end of the tusk is wide and other end comes to a point. Here I am speaking about the wide 'hollow' end. For all practical purposes they have no value as you cannot make bracelets with them. They do however have a special purpose(s). Save them for later - nothing ever gets discarded or tossed into the trash with ivory. Everything is saved - even the 'dust'.
Here is the end of a small tusk we recently purchased.
First notice the line on this tusk - before it was cut. Everything to the right of that line is hollow.
Here are two bracelets we are getting finished for Saturday.
The third one; A reversable, is tied up @ the moment with design problems. (shortage of matching ivories). That should be taken care of before Saturday.
As you can easily discern by studying the photograph, These insets require a lot of work to properly set them inside another piece of ivory. It is not a difficult task to accomplish, It just takes practice.
5 of them have already been set (left to right). 5 others are waiting in line for there turn.
Let me ask you a question? How did you learn how to use a computer?? You learned the same way I did. By repeating the same things over and over again until they easily became second nature; then it became so simple - you didnt even have to think of it.
This is the same technique - skills acquired through constant repetition.
A ten piece bracelet - Made of baleen and mastodon Ivory. Alternating hearts & circles.
Once this bracelet is sanded (to remove scratches on the baleen & Ivory). Once polished it looks completely different. It is the shine that sells. Once you get that shine to POP. Then you will understand.
You cannot see that shine on the photographs. To have to see Ivory in person!! Touch it.
You have to see Ivory in person; Gosh at times I think I am blind the way I construct certain sentences.
Please forgive my terrible sentence structure. (chuckle)
Here is a good indicator of what you need to produce flawless scratch free ivory and baleen pieces. Here are some of the grits we use.
This is not the correct way to purchase 'grits' These bits are expensive, much more expensive than sheets of sand paper.
Although these grits shown are not the exact same numbers I quoted earlier; they do produce the exact same results.
So be wise; invest in sheets of sandpaper - your money goes so much further. For instance one of these bits might be 4 dollars. Sandpaper is about 25 cents a sheet. Make sure you have an ample supply of sandpaper(s) that cover the whole range of grits to produce that flawless shine. because as you well know by now - IT IS THE SHINE THAT SELLS.
I've got some beautiful stuff to show you today; We have been over to Alaska Fur Exchange about 3 times this past week.
Here is a very nice piece of fossil ivory. The colors and patterns are wonderful.
Material like this is rare and women jump at the chance to add one of these to their collection. Such was the case Friday @ the Native Hospital gift shop. The boys (2) were in line and it was some ladies turn to be next. She said .."I will wait. go ahead and pointed to the boys. Khris pulled out his bracelet and the gift shop employee said. that is very nice, how much. The woman in line said loudly, I want that. Khris turned around and handed it to her. She replied how much ? Khris said the price and she paid him. Jesse approached the gift shop employee and when he pulled out his bracelet, That same woman said, I want that one also. She handed Jesse some money and the boys left the native hospital without ever selling to the gift shop. The employee said to the boys; I will see you both back here Monday with new bracelets - we want these !!
Two weeks ago; I started this thread, Ihad hoped to be much further along in our quest. But things are proceeding very nicely.
Here are three bracelets we finished this morning. Things have going very well for the past two weeks. I was hoping to produce 3 bracelets per day but that is not the case. We need a 12" sander and other dust collecting equipment (that is on the way).
During the past 15 days - we have had only two days in which we struck out. No sales. Wed & Thur of this past week. Tonight .. (chuckle) someone from City - Data is drving into Anchorage to visit us and pick up some bracelets !! The person that sent us the Mastodon and baleen and said here; it is yours do what you want with it. We said we will make you bracelets and ear-rings for free !!
This is what the boys made for this person.
Nice bracelet to wear to a chess game - it matches the colors of the board.
You are only a week away from having the skills to produce stuff like this right in your own home.
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