|The wolf will live with the lamb. Isaiah 11:6|
|Shofar inscribed with Ezekiel 20:12;|
The artist describes the making of this shofar:
Late last year I met a nice woman at an art show where I was showing pieces of my scrimshaw artwork and powder horns. She approached me with a special project to consider.
She had visited Israel in 2001 as a tourist right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Towers in New York City. Tourism to Israel and the region had come to a screeching halt, and she decided it was a good time to visit. She said the time was wonderful, she felt very safe, and the local people treated her better than on previous trips where she enjoyed the local hospitality.
During her visit to the land of the Bible, she bought a Ram’s Horn* that had been made into a blowing horn called a Shofar, or Shophar. She asked if I would do some scrimshaw style artwork on the horn depicting a verse in the Book of Isaiah of the Holy Bible, and some text from the Book of Ezekiel.
I started the project with a few hours of hand sanding and polishing to get the rough surface of the horn smooth, and crack free. I have worked on a lot of different animal parts from deer, elk, big horn sheep, cow, bull, bison, water buffalo, elephant ivory, sea shell, abalone shell, river muscle shell, and others, and this Ram’s Horn was by far the hardest, and the stinkiest.
By “stinky,” I mean that the dust from the horn has a horrible smell. All animal horn, antler, and bone has some bad smell to it, and after a few years of working with it, I’ve gotten to where I hardly notice it. However, just try going to the supper table without changing your clothes at the end of the day after working Ram’s Horn! Doesn’t work, unless you live alone. I don’t. Ha.
Normally, Scrimshaw artwork is done by scratching and cutting with a knife and scribe, and darkened with black India Ink. Any scratches, delaminations, cracks, or porosity in the base material will cause the ink to spread, blurring the picture. So, there is a quite a bit of prep work involved.
After the polishing, I made an original drawing of the Lamb laying down with the Wolf, and transferred the artwork to the horn with carbon paper.
I started the work with a knife and round pointed scribe, and after a couple of hours of hard work I realized that the Ram’s Horn material was just too hard to do an adequate job of scrimshaw artwork. So, I decided that I was going to have to compromise and add some rotary engraving with the scrimshaw lines to develop the dark outlines, and text on the horn. Jim Steven’s is also a Scrimshaw Artist, and I just received his second book called “Advanced Scrimshaw Techniques” where he shows how to do rotary engraving. So, I skimmed through his photos, and went to work.
This is a hard decision for a staunch scrimshaw artist, as myself, and it is probably comparable to doing drawer dovetails with a router for a staunch handtool woodworker. But, I swallowed my pride, and proceeded with the rotary engraving, and used the old style knife/scribe scrimshaw artwork for the details and shadowing.
The white lettering is a process that many artists call “reverse scrimshaw” where white paint is used to highlight artwork on a dark surface. I have done this type of reverse artwork on American Bison Horn before, and so I adapted that concept to this Ram’s Horn.
To give you a sense of scale from the photos, the horn was about 36 inches long measured down it’s length.
|Close up of Scrimshaw Shofar.|
|Example of artist's scrimshaw work on a powder horn made from a cattle horn.|
* Comment from Michael Chusid: The horn appears to be from a kudu bull, an African antelope, not from a male sheep or ram. Kudu horn is much tougher than sheep horn to work.
Copied by permission of the artist. See http://decoustudio.com and http://lumberjocks.com/projects/8972.