Scrimshaw, the mariners art.

I loved learning about this traditional folk art! Many of you know that I tend to personally lean towards the traditional rural/peasant crafts– what would have been common practice by people living their daily lives. I love to learn about making things in general, but that is what really calls to me.

Scrimshaw seems to find that void between art and craft in my mind, it is hard to say it was anything but art — used to decorate other items– but it was done by the average seaman with very limited tools using what they had on hand. It just seems more of a commoners’ art form than something like painting.

This week I talk with Rich Williams about scrimshaw– everything from choosing material, prepping it, tools and techniques used to engrave it, filling it in, maintenance of pieces, and legal issues you need to be aware of in regards to sourcing material. We also talk about the origins of scrimshaw and its history as a craft up through the present day.

Overall, this was a fascinating conversation and I really enjoyed connecting with Rich. He has a love of history and working with his hands that I could relate to and learn from, hope you all do as well!

Resources Mentioned — Rich’s website, check out the gallery pages to see some of his and his students’ work!

John C. Campbell Folk School

The Henry Ford Greenfield Villiage

William Holland School of Lapidary Arts

Advanced Scrimshaw Techniques by Jim Stevens

The Scrimshaw Connection by Bob Engnath


Micro Brushes

Craft Blades

Tripoli jewelry polish

Optivisor head magnifier

Ink — Doc Martins or FW india ink

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join the mailing list If you're interested in learning all sorts of traditional skills and keeping up to date with what is happening here at Folk Craft RevivalI. . . Promise, I won't spam you. :)

Welcome to the clan!