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Scrimshaw Artists?

Dear Orchidians: I was recently cleaning out drawer space and found
my stash of Scrimshaw that I created years ago. Some is on deer
antler and some is on Ivory. Do any Orchid members do this type of
artwork ? I know there are still some wonderful shops along the
northeast coast that carry it but I tend to believe it’s a dying
art, yes ?

Margie Mersky
Margie Mersky Custom Designs, INC

I do scrimshaw as well as cameos :slight_smile: in fact I did scrimshaw before
going into cameos

Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry

I’ve only met one person who does scrimshaw, and he did it for
personal purposes, not for a living–although I think his work is
beautiful enough he should be making a living at it. It does seem
like very few people make scrimshaw.


Hi Margie,

Before I went to school to become a bench jeweler, I ran a maritime
gallery in New England and we carried scrimshaw. I wouldn’t
necessarily say it’s a “dying” art, but as in jewelry, and in really
any art medium, there is a wide range of style, theme, and
competency. Our gallery (The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport)
only carried 5 or 6 artists regularly, and all of the pieces
featured nautical themes. Also, all of the scrimshaw we carried was
incredibly well executed, ie, miniature works of art on an ivory
canvas. There are lots of books for the hobbyist, enthusiast, and/or
collector on scrimshaw, and many of my friends in the shipyard at
Mystic Seaport were also scrimshaw hobbyists! Granted, it wasn’t
anything we could carry in the gallery, but it shows that the art is
alive. Also in Mystic, CT is a wonderful shop called Mystic
Scrimshander that has scrimshaw from all over the world, and is
probably the most high end shop dedicated to scrimshaw that I’ve
seen. Barbara Cullen, the proprieter, carries everything from $50,000
works of art to $10 key chains. If you’re ever in southeast CT, a
must see. I’ve also seen a lot of scrimshaw in Hawaiian shops -
mostly mixed in with other chotchkes, but still a lot of decent
stuff. Lahaina in Maui is a great place for scrimshaw (an old
whaling stopover.) I could go on, but don’t want to get off topic.
If anyone’s interested in learning more about the commercial aspects
of scrimshaw, please feel free to contact me. If anyone is
interested in incorporating scrimshaw into their jewelry, I might be
of assistance in procuring materials, determing legality of ivory,
etc. Best, Holly Hawkins.

PS I must add the caveat that I have never personally attempted
scrimshaw, just lots of experience selling and marketing it!


I know of one man that lives in Indianapolis and teachs at the John
C Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. However I can not remember
his name at the moment, but I am sure if you contact the Folk School
they will be more than happy to put you in touch with him.

My best friend loves Mystic Harbor scrim lol I do wildlife not
nautical though I did repair her one ring shrugs Have to get to
Mystic myself this year sounds cool

Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry