I taught myself scrimshaw at age 13 amid the rolling hills of
northeast Iowa, and have been doing it ever since nearly 40 years. I first saw
scrimshaw in a gift shop on a family trip to New England, and did my first
pieces on whale ivory purchased during the trip. I have developed many of
my own techniques over the years, but have tried to stay true to the origins of
the craft by using simple tools and natural materials. I also produce the antler and wood
objects I sell and use for scrimshaw. I have been exhibiting my work at art
fairs since 1975, and in Michigan art fairs since 1981. I have been a
naturalist, a park ranger, a database analyst and a "professional student".
I am a biology professor at a regional university and do contract work for The
Nature Conservancy and a regional land trust as a field ecologist. In
addition to scrimshaw, I also enjoy nature
photography, backpacking, canoeing, gardening and woodworking.
I specialize in hand-etched scrimshaw on natural materials such
as mammoth ivory, walrus teeth, piano-key ivory and shed antler. Nautical,
wildflower and wildlife themes are favorites, but I have done everything from
old fire engines and tractors to corporate logos (with permission). I make
everything from jewelry to cribbage boards and Nantucket baskets. I also
make many of the accessory items and objects on which the scrimshaw is mounted:
hand mirrors, jewelry and music boxes, desk accessories and more. I have
over 40 years in scrimshaw and ivory work.
I do not use a machine engraver for my scrimshaw; instead, it
is etched with a steel tool and the color is hand-rubbed into the fine lines and
dots. Nineteenth-century scrimshanders used the point of a knife or a sharpened
sail needle, with a combination of lampblack and whale oil, sepia (squid ink),
tobacco "juice", and various fruit juices for color. I try to emulate the spirit
of the old scrimshanders while adding my own unique styles and more stable
I am one of the featured artists in the book pictured at the
right, "Scrimshaw: A complete illustrated manual" (2nd ed.) by Steve
Paskiewicz and Roger Schroeder, Fox Chapel Publishing.
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