There are several very good books on the basics of Scrimshaw so I won’t go into detail on how to get started. “Scrimshaw Techniques” by Jim Stevens is perfect for beginners. It provides a detailed description of what’s needed and how to start out. I would strongly recommend reading this or similar books and practicing until you get the basics. When you first start it may seem impossible, but then you will get the hang of what to do and you will get better and faster. All of these books can be bought through Amazon.
My first Scrimshaw was on a pigs tusk. I Scrimshawed dolphin heads onto it and I found it impossible because the scribe kept slipping and sliding off the surface. I then realised that pig tusks, like hippo tusks, have a hard enamel layer on the outside that will strike a spark if hit with steel. Once I sanded the enamel off, the ivory underneath was easy to Scrimshaw. My advice is buy one of these books study it and then start your scrimshaw, you’ll save a lot of time and frustration.
These are in my opinion, the best books to help you learn how to Scrimshaw:
- “The Scrimshaw Connection” by Bob Engnath. (Out of print, second-hand copies available on Amazon.)
- “The Second Scrimshaw Connection” by Bob Engnath. (Out of print, second-hand copies available on Amazon. These two books were one of the biggest helps for me personally.)
- “Scrimshaw Techniques” by Jim Stevens.
- “Advanced Scrimshaw Techniques” by Jim Stevens. (These two books of Jims are quite outstanding on all the details of scrimshaw techniques.)
- “Scrimshaw a Complete Illustrated Manual” by Steve Paszkiewicz & Roger Schroeder. (This is a basic – How To Scrimshaw.)
- “Contemporary Scrimshaw” by Eva Halat. (This book is extremely well written with sections including: History, Materials, Tools, How to and a Gallery of the best Scrimshaw artists in the world all in high gloss colour.)
- “Moderns Scrimshaw” by Eva Halat. (A German version of “Contemporary Scrimshaw”.)
- “Scrimshaw” by Viveca Sahlin. (This is a book on how to do Scrimshaw and has some excellent pictures. Written in Swedish.)
- “Scrimshaw Gravur” by Richard Maier. (This book is in the form of a workshop manual, it tells all you need to know about Scrimshaw and showcases Richard’s Scrimshaw, outstanding work. Written in German.)
- “Scrimshaw? But I Can’t Draw! How to Scrimshaw Volume 1” by Andrew Perkins (The comment I hear over and over is “I cant draw so I would never be able to do Scrimshaw” If that’s how you feel then Andrews book is for you. Andrew gently encourages the reader to give it a go with simple step by step lessons. Highly recommended for the beginner.
There are other books about learning Scrimshaw but these are the main ones and they all cover the same details in different ways.
YouTube is also a good place to learn. There are some good beginner’s videos and some excellent tutorials by David Adams.
Check out Andrew Perkins at www.scrimshaw.com. Andrew works tirelessly to help answer all your questions on Scrimshaw.
Also check out Jim Stevens at www.scrimshawstudio.com. Jim discusses all things to do with Scrimshaw.
If you want to see some of the very best scrimshaw by the worlds best scrimshaw artists, go to www.scrimshawgallery.com.
There’s no shortcut when learning Scrimshaw so once you’ve read the books, keep practicing.
Most Scrimshaw artists do it for a living, so for them, learning the tips and tricks is vital.
Others like me do it as a hobby.