Scrimshaw is the art of engraving pictures on polished ivory with a sharp needle or knife. The artist cuts, freehand, thousands of tiny scratches into the ivory to comprise each scene. The scratched ivory surface is rubbed with paint or ink, and only the scratches hold the color when the surface is wiped off. The process takes many hours to complete and results in a piece of art that is both original and unique; no two pieces exactly alike.
Most Alaskan mammoth ivory is 11,000 to 40,000 years old. Colors may range from creamy white to dark brown, blue or green depending on the type of minerals in the surrounding soil in which the ivory has remained frozen for centuries. Mammoth ivory falls into the category of rocks and minerals, so it is legal to buy, sell or trade across state lines. Mammoth ivory is both an authentic, beautiful gift from Alaska as well as a fossilized reminder of the past.
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