Jump to content

Ivory, horn, bone


Janel

Recommended Posts

Rex Pepper asked in his introduction message: "what do people finish thier ivory/horn/bone pieces with. I use use olive oil, which is probably a bit crude but gives a nice low sheen. I am sure there must be something more suitable."

 

Does anyone have any answers? My only contribution to this would be to advise not using a vegetable oil, which in my opinion, tends to smell rancid after a while.

 

Janel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Janel and Rex,

 

I do a fair amount of ivory (mostly fossil) and antler work, and I use a linseed oil based wood finish (clear) called Watco. It's mostly linseed oil, thinned a bit with some sort of thinner and added driers. I suspect any kind of linseed oil-based wood finish will work as well. If Watco brand isn't available in Kiwiland, you can come pretty close with simple linseed oil thinned 50/50 with odorless paint thinner. Turpentine will work as well, but smells for a long time. Linseed oil is a hardening finish, whereas most vegetable oils aren't and will eventually go nasty, or at least be dust collectors. I haven't tried grapeseed or walnut oils, which are supposedly polymerizing (hardening) oils, but they might be worth a try.

 

Also, if a lot of antler or bone marrow is involved, I'll use a nitrocellulose lacquer wood finish thinned about 50/50 with lacquer thinner. Can give some interesting colors in the marrow areas. Several applications of this stuff sort of fills the voids and adds a little strength. The only drawback with lacquer is it smells for a while, and can get marred should water get on it (somewhat like rings on lacquered wood when you set a drink down on it).

 

I often just use a little wax on ivory or leave it as polished without oil. Liberal amounts of the oil finish on ivory can give a translucent, oily look if allowed to soak in (I happen to like this look, others don't) so try your intended finish on scraps first.

 

Obviously, if you are going to color any of these materials, do it before applying the finishes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Rex,

 

Just plain boiled linseed oil for wood finishing or artist's oil paints. The wood finish version is lots cheaper than the more refined artist's stuff. As I understand it, the boiling is required to make the oil polymerize quickly (like in our lifetimes). I've never seen "raw" linseed oil available as a wood finish. Not saying there's no such thing, just haven't ever run across it.

 

Incidentally, a not often known fact is where linseed oil comes from: flax seed. Linen comes from flax fibers, hence the name "lin"seed oil. Also, linoleum is manufactured from linseed oil. For those of us who attended public schools and worked in older government office buildings, you'll be familiar with the long lasting capacity of practically indestructible linoleum floor tiles. That's what makes linseed oil such a durable wood finish. Plus, there is a many centuries long track record as a wood finish.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use mineral oil and favor baby oil mainly because of the smell. You can get good penetration if you submerge the ivory in mineral oil in a container then place in a double boiler or pan of boiling water. The warm oil really gets into the material.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if you could use warmed oil in a FoodSaver style vacuum container? We've got an attachment to our vacuum sealer that has a container that would then assist in sealing something other than the heat sealing bags. A hose hooks into the lid, connects to the vacuum sealer, and then creates a vacuum when the machine is turned on. I had not thought of that before. For small work it could be handy!

 

Don, baby oil might be a little less thick that mineral oil, but is a mineral oil, right?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Vacuum works great. I have a friend you puts his handles in canning jars to pull a vacuum. I have been looking at those food prep pumps and it seems like an inexpensive way to go.

 

Baby oil is mineral oil yes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 8 months later...
Rex Pepper asked in his introduction message: "what do people finish thier ivory/horn/bone pieces with. I use use olive oil, which is probably a bit crude but gives a nice low sheen. I am sure there must be something more suitable."

 

Does anyone have any answers? My only contribution to this would be to advise not using a vegetable oil, which in my opinion, tends to smell rancid after a while.

 

Janel

 

Try using a very light application of Johnson and Johnson's Baby Oil, it is transparent and leaves no discoloration on ivory,bone or horn. It gives bone a lovely patinated look and enhances the "feel" or "aji"

as they Japanese say. Rub a bit of oil on the fingertips, apply all over the carving and rub it in lightly, then rub off the excess oil with a polishing cloth or fine linen cloth that leaves no scratches. There will be a sheen left behind that is usually pleasing. Repeated applications may be necessary over time. I use this treatment ot restore dead ivory, or ivory which has had all its natural oils leached from sunlight. Never immerse a carving in a jar of oil and leave it overnight...big mistake. It will ruin the carving. Never use linseed oil or any viscous colored oil such as olive oil or even vegetable oil, the oil tends to pool into crevices and can get gummy. Furniture oils are for furniture. Sometimes colorless carnauba pastewax can be used to give a finish to carvings, ivory,bone or wood especially. I recommend Mohawk Blue Label Paste wax. Again, don't over apply, just a light application with a fine sabel brush, allow to dry then buff with a fine cloth. The wax can be used to "set" a stain, that is to seal the surface, so you cannot apply a stain over a waxed surface.I have restored hundreds and hundreds of netsuke and ojime and okimono since 1981 all the while being a full time carver, so I speak from experience through misadventure. Any more questions can be directed to me at blakeart2@earthlink.net. Questions cheerfully answered. Kind regards, Bradford Blakely

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Boiled linseed oil is never used in artists' oil paints. Nor is it boiled. It contains metallic driers to accelerate polymerization and tends to darken more over time than the various linseed oils used in oil paints and mediums. Its primary use is as a furniture finish but most finishers recommend staying away from it too.

 

Boiled linseed oil does more than turn yellower over time. It can actually turn brown. I would stay away from it unless you want that effect. Stick to cold pressed or alkali refined linseed oil from a reputable manufacturer of artists' materials, or a supermarket version that does not contain additives.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...