care and Treatment for Elk Antler Scrimshaw

Joined
Nov 5, 2005
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Now that we have these beautiful scrimshawed Elk Antler handles available we need a thread for Treatments and care for them.

So far in my searches I've come up with three treatments to keep the material (Antler, Bone, ivory) from cracking.
Warm Beeswax, mineral oil or glycerin.

Here's what I've found:

Care and cleaning
Treat your scrimshawed ivory as you would any fine jewelry.
Do not get it wet unnecessarily, because the inks, especially colors,
may fade. Keep your scrimshaw out of bright sun; this dries and cracks
the ivory and may fade certain colored inks. Detergents, shampoo,
heavily chlorinated water, and jewelry cleaning solutions should be
avoided, as they turn the ivory surface dull and remove the etched lines.
Dirt and oils may be removed with a cotton swab moistened in rubbing
alcohol and wiped gently over the surface. Do not scrub, as this will
remove some ink from the fine lines. I use a light coat of warm beeswax
rubbed into the ivory to preserve the scrimshaw and keep the ivory from
drying and aging too fast. Waxing should be repeated when the ivory is
cleaned, because the alcohol removes it. If you treat your scrimshaw
with care, it will give you many years of pleasure and may become a
treasured heirloom.

A piece of genuine ivory will tend to dry out and develop cracks.
It has been suggested that every six months or so, your pieces
should be wrapped in a piece of soft cloth saturated with mineral oil
or glycerin. They are best displayed in glass-enclosed cabinet or bell jar,
in which a small vessel of water has been placed to humidify the surrounding air.



So, are there any more treatments for Elk Antler???

Has anyone tried the WATCO Danish Oil on Elk Antler yet??

Paul
 

Fiddleback

Knifemaker
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That is the exact paragraph I was going to post when I saw the title of this thread. I did some scrimshaw...very amateur stuff (initials)... for my father in law for his birthday. He liked it a lot. I thought it looked kinda childish, and plan to try some more. Anyone know where to get some tools such as the ones mentioned by Yangdu?
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2005
Messages
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Has anyone tried the WATCO Danish Oil on the ELK Antler yet???

It works great on Horn should be OK for Anteler as well.........?
 
Joined
Oct 25, 2004
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3,178
I tried the Watco today. Now, read and understand the following warning:

This is what I did and how I did it. It worked for me. It may not work for you. I don't know the first thing about scrimshawed antler and I made some educated guesses that seemed to pan out for me. If you do the same, you do it at your own risk -- I'm not going to buy you a replacement.

Anyway, I polished the antler down lightly with some #800 sandpaper, just enough to remove any finish on it and take down the high spots a bit. Initially I got a little scared because it looked like the scrimshaw was fading; it was just antler dust in the grooves. After the sanding I applied a heavy coat of Watco. The ink did not visibly bleed, although when I wiped the oil off 45 minutes later it darkened the paper towel very slightly. (Whether it was dirt or a small amount of ink, I don't know; the ink looked fine afterwards.) Between the scrimshaw and the porosity of these particular pieces of antler, it seemed to absorb more oil than usual.

I only did one coat; I'm going to let it dry for the rest of the day just to be sure that nothing happens to the ink. Tomorrow I'll give them a second. I'm shooting for four coats but I'm spacing them out a bit more. I'll take pics at the end but I don't forsee any problems. YMMV.
 
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Oct 25, 2004
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It was. (Am I at 10 characters yet?)

Edit: Just to clarify, I use Watco Danish Oil on regular antler all the time. It works great. My concern here was whether or not it would dissolve the ink. It doesn't seem to. Four coats appear to be the magic number to prevent cracking.
 
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Nov 7, 2005
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what about a very thin superglue coat? That sounds like an indestructible coating to me...:confused:
 

Howard Wallace

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hdwrlover said:
What's a good source(s) for Renaissance wax?

A google search will turn up several sources. I've had my container of Renaissance wax for a few years now and I've only used a little of it. A little goes a long way. I forgot where I bought mine.

I did put a coat of Ren wax on the antler handle Salyan this morning. Before that I rubbed it down with a Marine Tuff-Cloth and then polished it.

Time will tell what the good treatments are. Ren wax is used in a lot of museums and seems friendly to a lot of materials. Of course if you chop it comes off. I've been using my GR in the yard quite a bit lately, with just a scotch-brite cleaning after use. It was getting tiny specs of rust in the chopping areas, although other areas were still protected by the wax. Since I was already taking care of the Salyan I polished up the GR with some Simichrome paste and put some Ren wax on it too.
 
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I finally got the 14" BDC from the DOTD on 01/04 and have 3 coats of WATCO Danish Oil on the handle.

1-04-06-3.JPG


I cleaned it up carefully with OxiSolv first to remove the polish rouge out of the rough grain in the Elk antler and then wiped it with Isopropyl (Rubbing alcohol) for the final clean. A bit of ink came off on the cloth but not enough to worry about. The WATCO Danish Oil does soak in quickly to the rough porous areas of the antler but doesn't remove any of the ink.

So, here it is after 3 coats of the Danish Oil. :D
rscrim.jpg


lscrim.jpg


Paul
 
Joined
Oct 25, 2004
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Awesome. I've had good luck with the Watco on horn and antler myself.

If I was doing it all over again from the beginning, I'd probably go with the Renaissance Wax instead; it seems to work on nearly anything without harm and lasts for a long time. Watco is made for wood, not for horn and antler, so YMMV. I'm sticking with it for the time being but I'm staying ready for the day when it does something bad.

The scrimshaw on my end has seen 3 coats so far, BTW. I'm not done yet and neither is the winter, or the next winter, or the one after that. Please don't think of my word as the gospel. When breaking new ground, things are sometimes broken.
 
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Nov 5, 2005
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It's dry in New Mexico 12% humidity right now. So, the WATCO should seal better than wax and prevent the antler from drying out. Beside the antler is more porous than horn and the WATCO really soaks into those parts of the handle.
 
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