Sunday, October 19, 2014

Scarification Blade

This is a test run for the Viking Mythos Project.   Conceptually, it's a shamanistic blade for applying ritual scars.  The handle is antler and the gar scale blade is mounted with real pitch.  For a first attempt it's not a bad effort, but there's obviously a lot of room for improvement.

The biggest issue with carving antler is it's variable density.  The outer layer is incredibly hard, but the core is considerably softer.  It requires a very firm hand to keep the engraving head from skittering across the surface.  That's something that will come with practice.  It is a bit humbling to realize that even with the benefit of a power engraver I'm a long way from duplicating the delicate work done in-period with simple hand tools.

1 comment:

CoastConFan said...

Since deer shed their antlers annually, there is a large supply of the material simply there for the picking up. Paleolithic man found that antlers were indeed rather hard and made fairly good tools, especially in places where sufficient flint or obsidian was not available.

Your use of resin to fix the blade is a good choice – you must have been reading up on your archeology. The use of resin to fill in the scrimshaw is also historical. Much later, sailors on whaling ships used ship’s tar, actually pine tree resin, softened with a bit of burning fluid from lamps (much later kerosene) to fill in their scrimshaw work.

Way back when I was shooting black powder around the centennial, I played around with scrimshaw work, but substituted cream plastic for whale ivory and a long sharpened nail as an engraver and then used graphite to fill in the work. We didn’t have faux ivory available at the time. Not period by any means, but it gave me an idea about techniques and difficulties in this type of work. One of the few surviving items I made is a patch box for greased patches that I scrimshawed up with a fort and a cannon (not too well at that, either).

I needed a decent box for greased patches, so I took a plastic Old Spice deodorant tube, which had the grace of a push-up base and sandpapered off the embossed design so I could apply my own. The cap screwed down well and I carried it in my bag for several years. I guess it was a functional prop. After a while the old grease got a patina, the burned powder ash got on it and the darned thing looked almost real, if you didn’t pick it up or look too closely. The reason I am posting this is to give some of your readers an idea about alternative materials in scrimshawing, when making props. Maybe a nice Cthulhu scrimshaw on a faux ivory whale tooth would be a good project..