How to Carve Cow Horns

Written by kim blakesley Google
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Sailors carved scrimshaw into whale teeth and ivory, using whatever tools they had (including heavy needles and knives). Elephant, mammoth and walrus tusk are all good media for scrimshanding, but this ivory is rare and usually illegal to buy; cow horn, though, has much the same properties, is plentiful and less expensive. Scrimshanding is meticulous, hard work. Practice on a 2-inch roast bone or other large bone prior to carving on the cow horn.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Cow Horn
  • 400-grit sandpaper
  • 600-grit sandpaper
  • Oil pencil
  • Miniature carving set
  • India ink
  • Soft cloth
  • Awl (optional)

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  1. 1

    Sand the surface of the cow horn with 400-grit sandpaper. Remove any nicks or scratches. Wipe the surface with a clean soft cloth. Repeat the process with 600 grit sandpaper, until the surface is smooth like ivory.

  2. 2

    Draw the design on the surface of the cow horn using an oil pencil. For very intricate designs, poke through the design on a piece of paper, with an awl or needle. Lay the design over the cow horn, then trace over the design with a wax pencil. Connect the dots that remain on the cow horn with the oil pencil.

  3. 3

    Carve the design into the surface with the various tools from a miniature carving set. Use a sharp awl to carve the design if a miniature carving set is unavailable.

  4. 4

    Wipe the dust from the surface of the cow horn periodically with a soft clean cloth.

  5. 5

    Rub a layer of India ink onto the surface of the cow horn, and into the carving. The ink will wipe off of the smooth surface and stay in the carved areas. Repeat the process until the desired colour is achieved.

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