Craftsman Crate: The Scrimshaw Crate


In the swashbuckling day of tall ships, sailors whiled away the hours carving whalebone into intricate pieces of art to remember their voyages or to send to their families or sweethearts at home. Learn the art of scrimshaw (without harming any whales!).

Box may vary in December, due to COVID supply issues.

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Scrimshaw is the art of carving bone and ivory (we use vegetable ivory and museum quality ivory substitutes) with hand tools. It originated as a way to pass the time for whalers in the long hours between harvesting whales by making decorative and useful items. Scrimshanders used materials they had at hand – ivory or bone from sperm whales, sail needles to carve it, and lamp black or India ink to bring out the carvings. Some sailors copied illustrations by piercing dots through the paper and filling in between later, while others freehanded their own creations. At the end of their months- or years-long voyages, they brought their scrimshaw treasures to their loved ones at home. Scrimshaw artifacts have long outlived the era of whaling.


Instructions and Patterns for Carving

Scriber – A carbide-tipped etching tool

Prep Material – Steel wool and wax to prepare the surface

Finishing Supplies – India ink and polishing cloth to bring out the carving. Connecting rings, keychain rings, and cording to make usable treasures

Substrates or Carving Surfaces – Both vegetable ivory and museum-quality ivory substitutes are included.

Subscribe to Craftsman Crate to have one of these amazing crates delivered to your house every month complete with the tools, supplies, and lessons to learn the skills of an artisan! Use Craftsman Crate as a gift, a hobby, or a curriculum – it’s fun, it’s rewarding, and it’s authentic. Click to learn more!

Additional information

Weight 25 oz
Dimensions 12 x 9 x 2.5 in


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