A very simple design based off the shape of the collar bone except with a twist. Available in large (approx. 3 – 4 inches wide) and small (approx. 1 1/2 inches wide) on an 18 inch inch sterling silver chain at The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
Rope and Tire Swing bone carvings for MCASD. Still trying to figure out how to make the swing work as a necklace. It doesn’t have much weight so I might work some kind of straight wire into the ‘ropes’. The tire makes more sense to me as a necklace and seems to set a different tone. More of a by the lake kind of vibe. the idea behind the rope and tire swing is just building off the ladder concept. Things we kind of take for granted but are very familiar. Swings don’t necessarily elevate you but they support you while you glide through the air. I think seeing this kind of imagery conjures up memories of being young.
This is the piece we did the dye tests for. I like the texture that came out of the surface so I’m hesitant to attempt to dye it black but whatever the patron chooses will be ok. This design took much longer than In anticipated even though I tried to keep it very simple. It feels like I carved it several times over before I was happy with the proportions. I learned a lot especially using the graver tools and carving in relief. If we try to dye it I am not sure how the piece will turn out but I am eager to see.
I asked my wife to help sift through all the research I did online and she came up with the following experiment to see which processes worked best for turning bone as black as possible without loosing too much of the surface texture. The results so far suggest that the rougher the bone’s surface the more the dye will infiltrate but it didn’t soak into the bone very deep on any of the pieces.
Bone Dying Test: Instructions
Degreasing (after this step, wear gloves)
- oven cleaner method: follow instructions on product
- dish soap: wash like a dish, rinse
- nothing: easy
- sand to 1500 grit
- sand to 1500 grit, then soak in vinegar 30 minutes and rinse in water with baking soda
- sand to coarse grit
Dyeing (use 2 small pots for different time lengths)
- put pieces into pot
- cover with just enough (normal temperature) water
- add a few drops dishwashing liquid
- bring to simmer (NOT BOILING)
- add ¼ bottle of dye (+ salt if dye container says so)
- keep at simmer (NOT BOILING) for either 15 minutes or 1 hour
- remove from heat and allow to cool (keep bone in pot)
- once water has cooled to room temperature, remove and rinse pieces
try nothing, mineral oil, or carnuba wax
|15 minutes in dye|
|no degreasing||dish soap||oven cleaner|
|fine sand||1 – light grey||2 – light grey||3 – light grey|
|coarse sand||1 – grey||2 – grey||3 – grey|
|vinegar||4 – near black||5 – Black||6 – Black|
|60 minutes in dye|
|no degreasing||dish soap||oven cleaner|
|fine sand||7 – grey||8 – grey||9 – dark grey|
|coarse sand||7 – black||8 – near black||9 – black|
|vinegar||10 – Black||11 – Black||12 – Black|
Photos of pieces after treatment:
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The following pictures demonstrate how we prepared and dyed the bone in the first attempt to get black bone without loosing too much of the quality of the bone. (Complete steps in next post)
(Above) First off, I made 12 ‘Panther toe-nails’ from two slightly different pieces of bone. I sanded the front of all up to Fine 1500 grit and left the other sides at Coarse 100 grit. I didn’t spend that much time on sanding, I just wanted to get an idea of the impact on the various surfaces.
(Above) We put the pieces back in and tended them while they simmered to make sure they didn’t boil. One pot was on for just 15 minutes while the other continued for one hour (turned into the mess pictured above).
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From time to time people contact me through my website asking how to go about making their own bone carving. Unfortunately unless you come from New Zealand or a Pacific Island there just are not that many resources available. So going forward I will post any and all bone carving related resources I come across and here are a few I have already found. Some of the books are hard to find but not impossible.
Bone Carving – A Skillbase of Techniques and Concepts by Stephen Myhre
This book is essentially the Bone Carving Bible. It sets a precedent for quality of craftsmanship and it will walk you through step by step how to prepare the bone, what tools to use and how to approach traditional Maori motifs without offending anyone. It is the kind of book you keep on hand when carving as a reference if you ever get stuck or forget what cleaning agent to use and so on. I recommend this book to anyone interested in bone carving be they beginner or advanced.
Scrimshaw Techniques by Jim Stevens
Not essentially a bone carving book but it does cover some bone preparation techniques relevant to bone carving. For anyone interested in scrimshaw it is a great resource. I enjoyed reading about the history of this art form and I hope to incorporate some scrimshaw into my own work at some point.
Manawa Pacific Heartbeat – A Celebration of Contemporary Maori and Northwest Coast Art by Nigel Reading and Gary Wyatt
This book covers the art of contemporary artists from Maori, Inuit and native American backgrounds. The unique cultures actually have a lot in common through their artwork which is commonly carved wood and bone amongst other mediums. Its great to see these artists getting some recognition for their skills.
I have known for some time that gravers are a very handy tool in bone carving and some might say crucial for detailing but I have always gotten by working with files and power-tools. Lately I haven become more ambitious in my designs and also a little frustrated that I wasn’t able to do some things I would have liked to have been able to do so I started looking into gravers. First, I tried some old chisels I had and didn’t get very far although I am certain I have seen a guy carve huge chunks of bone using a chisel like it was no big deal! Next I ordered some micro-wood gravers from a model-making company and it didn’t take too long to blunt the points on those. Finally, I found a set of bone carving specific gravers on Master Bone Carver Ian Thorne’s website http://www.carving.co.nz/index.php
I had a little play around with them the other day and I was pleased to find they worked really well. It was slow going at first as I have no idea how to use them properly but after a bit I started getting into the rhythm and I was able to make several deep cuts into a piece of sample bone. I pulled out an old piece I had been working on of a antique key that I had become frustrated with because I couldn’t get the corners straight and I was able to use the gravers to get all those details worked out within minutes. The potential uses for gravers seems infinite right now and I am very excited to come up with some new designs that challenge my current approach to carving.
The gravers cost around a $100 NZ and they are well worth the money as the metal itself is quite expensive. They have a nice weight to them compared to the wood-gravers I was using and Ian has put them together really well with nice wooden handles. Suffice to say, I’m stoked!
Thanks Ian, your the best!!!
This is only the second Unicorn Horn bone carving I have made so far but I like it a lot. Both of the Unicorn Horns are for sale at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in the Gift Store along with a few other designs I have in there or you can buy them on the website www.studiotapu.com.
The horn is about 2 inches long and 1/3 of an inch wide. Two lines spiral down towards the tip and I try to show a little grain/texture in these. We have them on sterling silver chains at either 18 or 24 inches.