Johann Fanzoj, the famous Austrian luxury hunting arms making company, has published an article telling about the latest artworks created by the company’s masters. These are series of bolt action rifles that have mammoth ivory forend tips, grip caps and inserts in the stock which are engraved with the Scrimshaw technique – the 18th-century art of engraving on whale bones and ivory.
As you can see, the result of applying the Scrimshaw technique is a set of beautiful photorealistic images of African dangerous game animals. Here is how Johann Fanzoj describes the process of Scrimshaw engraving.
To create scrimshaw, the surface first has to be polished until smooth. The motif is then carved into the material or tiny dots are applied with a fine, needle-sharp tool. The arrangement of the dots, having a broad or fine spacing, coupled with how deeply they are applied creates an impression of depth and relief. The incredible and intricate detail requires this work to be performed under a microscope. To highlight the motif after engraving, the entire surface is rubbed with a pigment and polished off again. Multiple operations are usually required here.
The 10,000-year-old mammoth tusks are harvested in Northern Siberia. The engraved ivory is perfectly matched to the highest grade Circassian walnut stock. The stock insert which has the shape of Africa with a Scrimshaw engraved lion head is probably the most impressive part of these rifles. The engraving is accomplished by master engraver Ritchi Maier.
The technical challenge of this project was the connection of the wood and mammoth ivory. The problem is that the two organic materials could possibly show a non-stable behavior at their points of contact depending on the temperature and humidity changes. They solved this problem by enclosing the Scrimshaw engraved mammoth ivory into metal frames thus eliminating the contact of the ivory and wood.
That’s the story of another set of unique and incredibly beautiful works of art created by Johann Fanzoj.
Images by Johann Fanzooj