Scrimshaw miniature

Earlier this year I was given a piece of tagua, which is a slice from a nut about the same size as an avocado seed. Miniaturists like to paint on it as it has a very smooth, creamy surface, rather like ivory which is a traditional support for miniature paintings, although obviously no longer available. I decided to try scrimshaw on it, a form of drypoint etching usually done on bone. It suggested to me that an echidna heading towards me would fit neatly on the shape. The surface is quite hard, so some vigour was needed to get the marks down. Once I had the basic form in place, I rubbed in etching ink, and wiped it away from the smooth surfaces, then did more scratching, more ink, several times. Once I was satisfied with the image, I had to think about presentation, and eventually decided to make a ‘bed’ of pretend echidna quills for it. It’s framed in a deep plain wooden frame. The work is 9 cm diameter.

echidna_Tagua_web

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