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Deer Antler


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I am guessing here not being an antler carver per se, if the antler is older, having had time in the elements and not fresh off the deer, it may already be stable and not crack further.  That said, oil applications might change permanently the look of the material.  

Natasha Popova described a mixture that she uses on the surface of her extraordinary sculptures, somewhere here on the forum. You might use paraffin for a key word search. It did bring up various hits.  She briefly describes this on the topic "The First Breath".  I will look for a better description for you.

One may also use Renaissance Wax which will dry clear and non sticky. It will even out dull and shiny to some degree but will not smooth uneven surfaces.

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Hi Janel, 

Thanks a lot for the info! I will definitely try the paraffin mix . And also the link shows some absolutely incredible jaw dropping carvings....I will finish some details before applying and let you know how it goes.(great idea to do a test first)

This is such an amazing site .... full of amazing art and ideas. I wonder if there is any way to rekindle the fire ? 

Thank you for keeping this site going. Amazing commitment and dedication to the path . It  was my light in the dark. 😎

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Hi Darren,

Thank you for the very positive comments.  I will now go off your topic of the antler and protective finish.

I, too, wonder if there will be a rekindling of members checking in and helping one another.  The static nature of the forum is not as competitive with the instant gratification of social media, BUT, the archived conversations between artists here on The Carving Path are accessible and educational.  

I have found that the onboard SEARCH is helpful, but limited.  I test internet search engines using The Carving Path and a particular term, such as "paraffin" and various options are presented.  

Keeping it going means $30 per month now, checking in regularly, and updating the software when prompted.  It gets expensive when only a few persons post per month, if one counts and averages the live action.  I am hopeful that others are using the information without also logging in and communicating with others.

Come on folks!  Help keep this forum alive and well!  I miss you!


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  • 2 weeks later...

Keep monitoring the weight of the piece - if the weight is stable then it has lost all its moisture and should not crack any more. A coat of wax should seal the surface and slow down any moisture loss if it is still 'wet'.  Wax is easily removed with white spirits.   

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Hi Andrew, 

Good ideas , thanks . I've not carved a lot of antler before (2nd piece) and wondering if I have been too enthusiastic about boring out the inside materials? Antler is old and should be dry. Decided to stop while I was ahead and not try to carve any more detail... 

I have used paraffin on the finish and am pleased with the feel and look.

Any other tips on carving/prepping antler? 



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Be brave about removing the pith, its completely useless, and you should carve away as much as you dare to. It goes so soft when soaked in water you can even cut it away with a spoon. Also, antler takes the most incredible level of detail and is easily worked with standard wood carving gouges as well as scrapers. 😉

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  • 1 month later...
On ‎12‎/‎27‎/‎2018 at 12:01 PM, DarrenK said:

''Any other tips on carving/prepping antler? ''

Sorry, none concerning the repair of hairline cracks after the fact.

All the antler I've worked has been from raw fresh material that has been stored in a dark, cool non-dry place - the concrete floor in a cardboard box in the corner of an unheated building. None of the finished carvings have developed cracks after 5 or so years in the sun and heated room in this semi-desert area. All are finished with tung oil and paste wax. But fingers crossed, I'll report back in a decade.☺️

The difference working dry antler and fresh is noticeable. Fresh is softer and has a 'buttery' way of releasing chips. Best source in this part of the world is from moose and white-tailed deer. Caribou, elk and mule deer have proportionally less hard material and more soft core, evident in the weight of the full antler with caribou being surprizingly light, even with a 4' long piece.




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