Hi Rob & Charolette, Is your client’s piece of flaking ivory
smallish? Your client’s piece of ivory might be boar’s tusk. I
have several pieces of this material and it flakes and yellows.
I’m not sure whether it is drying out or just reacting generally
to age and atmosphere, but it seems to be breaking into small
flakey platelets. I suspect it might be stabilised by oiling or
something similar. Perhaps it just needs to be digging for
While we’re on ivory-like materials, does anyone out there know
anything about “vegetable ivory”? One of my engraving colleagues
gave me an interesting seed. It is roughly oval in shape with a
softened triangular section and about 2" long, 1.5" wide and 1"
deep. In the piece I have, it has brown “veins” along its length,
although I suspect these are only surface deep. He showed me an
engraved carving he had completed and it certainly had an
ivory-like appearance - only without the characteristic curved
crossing lines that used to be called the “lines of Retzius”.
Are there other viable substitutes that are easily available,
work as beautifully and are not as guilt-laden as true ivory? In
anticipation, Rex from Oz