Scrimshaw Art: A Timeless Tradition
Traditionally, nature plays an important role in Hawaiian culture. Many Hawaiians believe that nature and art go hand-in-hand and that we should respectfully utilize the gifts given to us by Mother Nature. Examples of natural Hawaii gifts include healing crystals, shark tooth necklaces, wood carvings, scrimshaw art, and so much more.
Scrimshaw art combines the talents of local Hawaii artists with elements that can be found in nature to create stunning pieces that could be used for any occasion. Scrimshaw gifts are unique and beautiful and will show someone you truly care. This art style also offers an interesting look at old traditions, so even the history buff in your life will love it!
What is Scrimshaw Art?Scrimshaw art includes carvings and artwork on different natural elements like bone, ivory, tusks, or even skin. Scrimshaw art originated in the mid-1700s; whalers in New England found themselves with a lot of downtime in the evenings and early mornings because whaling was only done in the daylight. This resulted in whalers essentially inventing their own hobby.
Scrimshaw art started because whalers on ships had byproducts from their work and found they were going to waste. The whalers began carving pictures into old pieces of bones and old whale teeth, creating surprisingly beautiful designs.
Though whaling is a thing of the past, scrimshaw art lives on, especially in Hawaii. Scrimshaw art pieces can be multifunctional. Though many pieces are just for decoration, scrimshaw art can be found on things like lighters, napkin rings, cufflinks, and many other useful items.
In the early stages of scrimshaw art, designs were often very simplistic and somewhat plain. They included renderings of flowers, small boats, or simple ocean creatures. As time went on, scrimshaw art became extremely technical and advanced.
Today, scrimshaw art can be very detailed and depicts intricate scenes and wildlife. Some artists even carve their pieces into dolls with life-like features. Though scrimshaw artists are now few and far between, their designs remain full of extraordinary talent.
How Do I Know if My Scrimshaw Art is Genuine?
Since scrimshaw art is such a commodity, it’s important to understand how to differentiate between legitimate pieces and cheaper alternatives. You should closely examine your scrimshaw and take note of small details.
Legitimate scrimshaw art pieces will have patterns in their materials and will not be completely smooth upon close examination. Counterfeit scrimshaw art might be very smooth with no texture, indicating that it’s likely made with plastic or ceramic.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that many pieces of scrimshaw art are quite old. They may have some bumps, small scratches, or some yellowing. Don’t be alarmed – these are likely signs that your piece of scrimshaw art is legitimate!
Our 5 Favorite Scrimshaw Gifts
Scrimshaw gifts are valuable and unique; we can almost guarantee the recipient won’t have anything quite like it! There are many special scrimshaw gifts available, but these are five of our favorites:
- Scrimshaw Cuff Links
- Scrimshaw Slim Money Clip
- Hand Scrimshawed Lighter
- Scrimshaw Letter Opener
- Scrimshaw Magnifying Glass
Cuff Links for His Special Day
Gifts for the groom are growing in popularity; many weddings now include a sentimental gift from the bride to the groom before the ceremony. Special cuff links are the perfect touch to bring a bit of flair to your groom’s tuxedo. The cuff links above are perfect for a nature lover and make a beautiful scrimshaw gift.
Money Clips for Bar Mitzvah
Since bar mitzvahs are traditional coming-of-age ceremonies, a money clip is a great gift to symbolize the transition to adulthood. A money clip is a classy, unique gift that will be treasured for years to come.
Lighters for Collectors
We all have at least one person in our life who is seemingly impossible to shop for. For the person who has everything and loves collecting knick-knacks, a scrimshaw gift is the answer! Consider gifting them scrimshaw art with a purpose, like a lighter or knife. Practical items with artistic touches are always popular.
A Letter Opener with Style
Letter openers are classic gifts, especially for those who might struggle with their hands and with opening mail. A personalized letter opener with a nautical scene will please just about anyone. Long gone are the days of paper cuts and ripped mail!
Looking Closely with a Scrimshaw Magnifying Glass
Magnifying glasses are useful and interesting to people of all ages. The older crowd finds them helpful for seeing small things, while the little ones might enjoy using them to play spies and detectives. A scrimshaw magnifying glass makes the perfect statement piece for someone’s desk or workspace.
Caring for Your Scrimshaw Gift
Once you give someone a scrimshaw gift, it’s important for them to understand how to take proper care of it. The longevity of these treasures depends on proper cleaning and maintenance. Consider including a small care kit with their scrimshaw gift with the following items:
- A microfiber cloth
- Mineral oil
- Sealing wax
Since scrimshaw art is very delicate, it’s important to use a gentle, dust-free cloth to wipe off any debris or shine it up a bit. Scrubbing should not be necessary, but a small alcohol wipe may be needed for tough stains.
Follow up the cleaning with a coat of moisturizing mineral oil and finish your piece off with some clear wax for protection. With these steps, your scrimshaw art can last a lifetime.
Supporting Local Artists with Scrimshaw Gifts
Scrimshaw has a rich history and is quite a niche hobby. Buying scrimshaw art pieces from legitimate retailers is important to maintain the integrity of the craft and to support local artists.
Since many Hawaii communities are small, purchasing local products is imperative to the success of their economy. Many communities rely heavily on tourism for their income, so you can rest assured that your purchase of scrimshaw art is supporting real humans.
Though the tradition of scrimshaw dates back a few centuries, the artwork is still extremely valuable. Scrimshaw art is the perfect way to marry nature and art, and any gift giver can proudly present it to a friend, significant other, or family member.