Recently a nice gentleman named Robert Chaplin stopped by my blogspace here and dropped me a line. In turn I visited his blogspace and made a new discovery. Robert is an amazing artist and uses his blog to share his newest work. He posted one particular piece that I love...an awesome etched piece of vintage ivory. I have seen such things before, but now I know what this lost artform is called, "Scrimshaw". Usually the pieces I have come across have nautical themes, ships, whales, ect. It all makes sense now... Scrimshaw artistians are usually sea faring people. The artform goes back to neolithic times. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it became the craft of sailors and whalers. Scrimshaw can still be found amoungst the Eskimo people, but otherwise "Scrimshanders" are a dying breed.
One of my favorite sites to visit is Black Sheep and Prodigal Sons, Purveyors of Dark and Uncommon Goods. Founder, Derrick Cruz is a self taught Scrimshander. He offers dark romantic men's jewelry and functional Art Objects...rich with symbolism. And I know that inside every Black Heart beats one passionate and Blood Red! The best things get tarnished over time!
When asked about the significance of the company's name in a recent interview he said "The phrase Black Sheep & Prodigal Sons jumped out at me while reading Kafka was the Rage by Anatole Broyard. I sympathize with this story. When I left Brooklyn to live in the Village, I felt as if I had acquired a new set of relative...uncles I had never met before...men who lived in odd places...who had shunned family life and been shunned in turn, who were somewhere between black sheep and prodigal sons of a paradoxical kind. An aura of scandal, or at least of ambiguity, hovered over these uncles...there was a flaw in their past, some kind of unhealthiness, even a hint of insanity...my favorite writers...i felt them waiting, almost calling out to me...they were all the family I had now, all the family I wanted. With them I could lead a hypothetical life, unencumbered by memory, loyalties, or resentments."
His scrimshaw pieces are carved out of pre-banned vintage ivory piano keys. You really have to visit his site...every collection has a beautiful narrative to accompany it. Each piece is presented in artfully crafted box that looks like an old a book.