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Gary R

Sealing Mammoth Ivory

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Hello ; a newbie here from New Zealand.

 

Recently, I made a few pieces of jewellery for my wife and our grand-children from a small, long-held stock of FWI.

 

I gained a great deal of enjoyment from this and decided that I would continue this as a hobby. Of course, one cannot obtain FWI freely any more so I have turned to Mammoth Ivory.

 

I bought some scrap pieces ; fine for the work that I wanted to do and created a few pendants and a bracelet for myself. I was especially proud of the bracelet into which I put more than 20 hours work. Then I wore it once, sweated ........ and destroyed it !!! I hadn't sealed it, something I'd not needed to do with FWI.

 

So, a question. What is the best sealing method to use on a piece of Mammoth jewellery, that is going to be worn next to the skin ? Super Glue ? Waterproof Epoxy Resin ? Something else ?

 

The most noticeable difference I have discerned between FWI and MM is the several "layers" in MM. When separated, do all these layers have the same receptiveness to sanding and polishing ?

 

I have lots to learn and would be hugely appreciative of any help / tips that anyone might be kind enough to give me please.

 

Thank you,

 

Gary. West Coast, South Island, NZ

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I use conservators wax on all my BC Coral or Mammoth Ivory pieces. Anything worn next to the skin needs re-application so that the skin oils and sweat don't sneak into the piece and expand the many layers. This seals the piece but does not add a bunch of thickness to the work.

 

Leevalley.com carries it and other waxes etc.

 

My favourite toy store for all my carving needs!!! ssssshhhhh don't tell my wife!! :ph34r:

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Hi Gary,

 

How did you succeed in carving French West Indies? Or Financial Woman International?

Ok, I'm out...but still you had me using google to know what the f.... was FWI ;)

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can wood finishes be used to seal the bone like polyirathane or shellac? they are surface finishes.

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So, what is FWI?

 

Gary, I don't know everything about mammoth tusk ivory, but would guess that if you have tusk that has come from the earth and was dried improperly it will have delaminated or split into layers. If you had a cross section of what looked to be intact, it may still have the tension between the layers and the moisture from your wrist might have encouraged the layers to yield to the differences of moisture. That is my guess.

 

Long ago, Natasha wrote about how she treats mammoth tusk.

http://www.thecarvingpath.net/forum/index.php?/topic/1488-staining-bone/page__view__findpost__p__13174

http://www.thecarvingpath.net/forum/index.php?/topic/688-the-first-breath/page__view__findpost__p__6125

 

Janel

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Hello Janel.

 

FWI is Fossilized Walrus Ivory.

 

Thank you for directing me to Natasha's post. I prepare my ivory in pretty much the same way; wet-and-dry ( used dry ) sand-paper 220 / 400 / 600 / 1200 / 2000.

 

But, the intriguing bit is the way she "water-proofs" her ivory.

 

I think that I have this right ....... mix commercially available paraffin with kerosine .. warm solution .. immerse ivory .. remove and leave to "cure".

 

When the ivory has absorbed the solution and dried off, does one simply buff the ivory with a cloth or must it be polished using a commercial polish ?

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you can do that with any kind of wax the kerosine just makes it so the wax cant bind together easily. when i turn i used finishing wax and mix in some mineral oil then i can sand without it burning my fingers on my lathe and it finishes it a the same times. as an added bonus the sawdust stays in the wax and not in the air so its healther. this is what i do with most of my wax fiisheshes that i have to make i use bees wax since its softer and people like the idea of using natural finishes. the steps to making the bees wax finish is this

 

boil my wax in a double boiler (container of wax siting in a pot of boiling water)

 

take out let set for a few moments to stiffent then dump in baggies and mix in mineral oil (little healther then kerosine)

 

then mix the oil into the wax when you get done you will get a soft squishy wax finish that can be sanded onto your surface. i would still like to know if you can use polyriathane on bone to seal it or not. since that is what i have on hand and most familiar with its use.

 

 

 

here is a thought if a bone carver wants to try this when they start sanding they can see how well it works to help prevent breathing this stuff in.

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Gary, I believe that Natasha refers to "White Sprits" which I interpret to be Mineral Spirits in the USA, or otherwise called "paint thinner". Kerosene is for heating and has an unpleasant smell, in my opinion. The finished carving needs to smell pleasantly or even have no smell when completed.

 

Natasha uses water/alcohol mixture for faster evaporation and less absorption by the tusk, hence less chance for drying cracks. The wax mixture is the final finish, and would be rubbed/buffed/polished with white cotton cloths.

 

I read further in one of the above linked articles, regarding drying of mammoth tusk: http://www.thecarvingpath.net/forum/index.php?/topic/688-the-first-breath/page__view__findpost__p__6140

 

Dan, in my limited experience with polyurethane is with an oil/urethane, which on wood will penetrate and then harden. I rub it on and rub it off before it does its chemical change/hardening thing. On my work I want a finish that protects the wood from hand moisture, but I want the look and feel of the wood to not be covered with a varnish coating. The drawback for my preferences, is that it makes all areas an even gloss or semigloss when I prefer to have matt and gloss contrasts. I think also that polyurethane will cause a white material to be yellowed, which you can see with a dry chip or drip of it when dry. That color shift needs to be considered when you are planning the use of materials and their finishes.

 

On with the day!

 

Janel

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janel i just remembered a conversation recently with someone who uses Crystalac Super Premium it is crystal clear it does not get a amber cast like many finishes. so on a white wood or bone it might be ideal if you want to keep the pure white. Gary you might want to look into buying a can of this and giving it a go. then you can seal your bone and still protect the bone color. so perhaps you can get some cheap bone like beef bone and sand to the stage you want and then seal it. the advice i usualy get is make a test board and try the different finishes till you get something you want. so cut up some small pieces of bone and see what comes of it.

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Hey Gary, you should have access to liquid parafin there, it is used to 'fifnish" jade and shell pieces by many carvers, I had the same problem with ivory and just used baby oil on it, it soaked up a bunch more than I though it would but so far it looks better, I have yet to carve it.

Cheers.

T,E.

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A huge thank you to everybody who helped me with this; not the least to Natasha.

 

Armed with your advice, I decided to experiment. I cut up a section of wax candle, and warmed it with a little white spirits. I have some scrap ivory and selected a piece with an obvious crack in it. Dunked the piece in the wax for a couple of minutes, removed and left for three hours. Wiped the excess wax off and then ran water on the piece. No further cracking and no de-lamination !

 

Hallelujah !!

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try geting some carnooba wax i dont know why but it seeps down deep in wood for finishing so it might work for bone.

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Its been awhile since I have posted anything on the forum. I was just checking threads and saw this, I have a pretty good stash of fossil ivory from small teeth to large pieces of tusk. This was purchased at least thirty years ago and seeing as though I have no intention of using it its for sale. If you have an interest contact me and we will see if something can be worked out.

 

daniel@lopacki.com

 

All my best ...... Danny

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Hey Daniel I did aswell send an email so I hope to here from you.

 

TO Gary R., I did mix up some mineral oil today with bees wax that is used to wax thread, and the wax and oil mixed well during melting and stayed rather like thick oil, (I did not record the ratio) but when applied to new sanded bone test piece it had a very nice desired effect.

But there is also a company in the USAcalled the Black Hills institute that sells specialty products to museum that need to stabilize bone , ivory etc. You maight want to contact them for thier advice.

From what I as told everyone that is in that buisness knows the techniques so its no big secret.

Cheers.

Tom.

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Thank you Tom.

 

I found on a website, a company here in NZ that sells that product, or something similar. The candle wax / white spirits treatment has worked just fine and was inexpensive since I have plenty of candles on hand.

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What little ivory I have had I put into a mineral oil (un-scented) to soak for a couple of weeks, this process works well if your going to be storing ivory for any amount of time. I seal any voids, defects in ivory to be worked with cyanoacrylate where needed and then when finished I use Renaissance Wax on all my completed projects. A small tin goes a long way!

http://www.conservationresources.com/Main/section_39/section39_08.htm

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