Author Topic: Engraving A Powder Horn  (Read 34077 times)

seesbirds

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Engraving A Powder Horn
« on: October 02, 2009, 06:28:19 AM »
I am taking photos of the horn I have underway for a client who ordered it as a Christmas gift for her husband.  His intitials are RBM and I've engraved them in a monogram of my design in to a piece of micarta which I will inlay in the base plug.  The next step is to fix the finished medallion into the base plug.  I've sanded the horn up to 320 so far and will go to 1200 before I begin to engrave it.  I 'm going to work on a sketch for the border work tomorrow and should have it engraved on the horn by the weekend.



Here is a photo of the spout of the horn.  I've still got some finish sanding to do which I use various emery boards for.  I went from octagonal to round at the tip



Here's the base plug turned in elm and already fitted and pinned



Here's a look at the whole thing without the medallion in the base plug



Here's the base plug with the medallion in it but not glued yet



and another shot



 If you guys are interested I will keep posting as I go along. I only get to work on this for 2 to 3 hours at night and not every night at that so bear with me it is going to be slow going, but maybe you'll find it entertaining or at least distracting.



Regards,

Mark Preston
www.shinintimespowderhorns.com
« Last Edit: February 26, 2013, 09:28:07 PM by rich pierce »

seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2009, 06:05:53 AM »
So I spent most of the weekend frustrated over my lack of artistic ability; drawing 4 or 5 different border treatments for around the base of the horn and searching a bunch of my books for inspiration.  I finally settled on doing some relatively traditional scroll work.  I think it will go nicely with what I am going to  put on the body of the horn.

First however, I have to define the space the scroll work will fill.  Here is a shot of the scroll work with the base of the horn in front of my sketch book. 

The blue line is a piece of vinyl tape I have put around the horn to guide the cut.  Another look at the tape around the base of the horn.

Once both lines have been cut and inked, I am ready to start penciling on the scroll work.  Here we go.   

And it continues around the horn to meet opposite the top center of the horn where the staple is going to go. 

At this point I had to quit for the evening.  I will finish the scroll tomorrow (I hope), making adjustments for symmetry and size so the last two scrolls meet.  Once it is penciled on I will spray it with a fixative which will keep it from rubbing off when I am working on it.  I'm anxious to get started doing the scrimshaw.

Stay tuned...

Mark Preston
www.shinintimespowderhorns.com

seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2009, 05:40:50 AM »
I didn't get to work very much in the border work over the last ten days and frankly it took longer than I thought it would to do.  Here's how it came out:







(My engraving teacher would shudder at how poorly this is executed  :-[, but it's done now and I can't fix it so...moving on...)

Next I will engrail the throat of the horn and then add something simple beneath the engrailing.  It will look something like this:



When I have all the scrimshaw work done I will dye the throat of the horn dark which will help the engrailing stand out.  Here I've started to lay it out and I'll adjust for size and spacing as I go along before I do any cutting.


I need to keep this part sort of simple because I've already spent too much time on the scroll work around the base and I can't afford to spend as much time on the border around the throat of the horn.  The illustrations I am going to put on the sides of the horn I am estimating will take 65 to 75 hours to complete so this next phase has to complement the border work around the bottom and yet be elegant in its own right and add to the overall impression.

Next up, transferring the image and beginning the illustrations.

As always, comments, critiques, observations, or insights are gratefully received.

regards,

Mark

seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2009, 07:45:05 AM »
I finished the engrailing and the small scroll work around the throat of the horn tonight.  Here's how it came out.





After I am all finshed with the scrimshaw I will dye the neck of the horn with potassium permanganate to turn it a dark brown.  That will help the engrailing stand out and provide counterpoint to the delicate scroll work.  Here there is some stray ink in the engrail .  I'll wipe all that away before I dye it.

Gary mentioned that there had been a suggestion that you do engrailing before you remove any material from the throat/neck of the horn incase you slip with your gouge or veiner.  That's excellent advice however, I use a dremel to do the engrailing and so I have to remove the material to make an edge I can get at.  Not a lot of margin for error but if you take it slow and be careful you can usually get a decent result.

Here's what I am going to start on tomorrow



It may not look exactly like this and of course it will be in black and white.  Down in the lower left hand "corner" of this illustration will be a cameo window with a suitable frame in which will be either this:



or something similar.  Most likely it will be an image of the bird standing on the ground since they are mostly in flight in the first illustration, but you get the idea.

I will take photos of how I transfer the image when I get started tomorrow.

stay tuned...


Mark

seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2009, 05:49:01 AM »

I got the potassium permanganate that I have from Mike Small.  He gave me a small pill bottle about half full of the crystals 3 years or so ago.  I haven't used very much of it so far.  I put a little of the crystals into another pill bottle and mixed it with water.  After I paint on the stuff I cap that bottle and invariably it has dried out by the time I get around to using it again so I just add more water, shake it up really good and use it again.  I'm still using the first teaspoon or so of what Mike gave me.

Here's how I was told to use it.  Using a heat gun, slightly warm the area on the horn where you are going to paint.  Using a small artists paintbrush, paint it on.  The liquid will be purple but will dry brown.  Leave it on for maybe 30 seconds and then rub it off with a soft cloth.  Repeat (including the warming part) until you get the depth of color you want.  So, it's warm, paint, rub, warm, paint, rub, etc.

Words to the wise.  This stuff dyes skin and you can't get it off so wear gloves unless you don't care about having dark brown sploches on your fingers.  Also, only use synthetic brushes.  for some reason this stuff eats hair brushes pretty fast.

As far as what it does to the horn I have to assume that it is slightly corrosive since it eats away hair brushes.  However, the density of horn being so much greater than the density of a brush, there is no discernable degradation of the horn surface.  The stuff sinks in only a little and seems to be set with a little heat.  I always wait until I have finished everything before I dye because with handling it will show wear and it's hard to touch it up and achieve an even color.  You can sand it off and start over if you want to but who wants to do that?

Hope this helps.  When I get to that point  I will try to remember to take photos so you can see the process.

Mark
« Last Edit: December 16, 2009, 08:24:53 PM by Tim Crosby »

seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2009, 06:29:04 AM »

Here is today's work with notes:

I am going to put quail on one side of the horn and pheasants on the other with a cameo on each "side" containing a sort of close up of the bird(s) in it.  So first I laid out a line down the center of the horn to divide it lengthwise in approximately half with one illustration going on the outside, facing away from the wearers body and the other illustration on the inside against the body.  The quail are going on the inside and since that is the hardest curve to scrim (for me anyway) that's where I have started.



In this photo you can see the "ghost of the other cameo on the left hand side down near the bottom of the horn.  I penciled that one on and didn't cover it with fixative so it has mostly rubbed off now.  That's OK, I can draw it back on there when I am ready to cut it.


So I penciled on the cameo, sprayed it with fixative and began to cut.  The ovals require a steady patient hand and a lot of concentration.  They're not perfect but there is not enough wiggle for the eye to readily discern and with a little shading you'll never notice.  Those lines were cut with a xacto knife.



I've got about half of the oak leaves and acorns outlined.  For that I stippled the edges of the leaves and the acorns and used a very tiny cutter shaped like a skew chisel to cut the center lines of the leaves.  The rest of the design in still only penciled on so far.

Here is a closer look



Once I get the outline complete I will shade the whole thing which (I hope) will bring the design to life.

here's a long shot of the work so far



Since both of these cameos will be drawn on you'll have to stay tuned for a while to see how I transfer an image.

Thanks for watching.

Mark
« Last Edit: December 16, 2009, 08:25:50 PM by Tim Crosby »

seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2009, 07:21:45 AM »
I finished detailing the oak leaves and acorns around the first cameo window. There will eventually be an image of a quail or quails (I haven't decided yet) inside this one.

I will draw the other one on tomorrow.





Hmmm, these photos show me I have to smooth out the shading of the ovals, they look a little lumpy...

stay tuned

Mark

Offline Randy Hedden

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2009, 08:25:30 PM »
Randy,

you are right about it wearing off but even when it wears off it still looks pretty cool.  Do you have an alternate suggestion which would wear better?

Mark

Mark,

You can color the throat and spout of the horn in near boiling Rit dye, which is a vegetable dye.  The only problem with this is that you would have to dye the throat/spout area first before doing any scrimshaw because some of the dye will get on the white body of the horn and will have to be scraped or sanded off.  You can keep most of the dye from coloring the body of the horn by wrapping the body by the engrailing with duct tape that goes over, but not in the engrailing.  Then take a heavy duty zip lock freezer bag and poke a hole in one bottom corner and fit it over the body of the horn and duct tape it in place.  This will minimize the dye that gets on the body of the horn.  Using the same process with walnut dye will produce a fairly permanent color.  Probably the best for dying the throat/spout on a horn would be a nitric acid solution with silver dissolved in the acid. Much like Aqua Fortis only with silver rather than iron in the solution.  The acid/silver solution will only produce a black color.   I believe an acid/nickel solution will also give a black color to the horn. If using an acid solution you would just brush it on and heat the horn,  much like using aqua fortis on the body of a horn.  For a brown color you will have to try the Rit dye or one of the other aforementioned vegetable dyes.  I use the Rit dye process on all of my horns that need dying of the throat/spout area.

Any dying process that requires the boiling of the horn spout/throat area will get some dye on the body of the horn and need to be scraped off, so you will have to dye first and scrimshaw after.  The dye that gets on the white body of the horn will penetrate the white part of the horn fairly deep and require some vigorous scraping to remove it.  If you intend to leave the body of the horn white, you will still see some slight tell tale darkening of the white near the engrailing, so you would want to dye the body of the horn to cover up the slight discoloring.

I experimented with hair dye many years ago and found that it did not produce a very permanent color or sometimes any color at all.  Maybe hair dye has changed over the years?  In fact, I have tried many different things to dye horns, but I found the best/easiest process is to use a boiling process with any of the vegetable dyes.

Randy Hedden

 
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seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2009, 07:29:39 AM »
I spent a few days doodling and  trying to decide what I was going to do around the second cameo window which will have the image of a pheasant inside it.  Finally inspiration hit and I decided to do maple leaves and feathers. 

Once I had drawn it in my sketch book and refined the image, I drew it on the horn and then scrimshawed it.  Here is the result:






After I had finished scrimshawing that cameo window on, I returned to the first cameo window and started to do the quail inside of it.


This is the image I selected to emulate. 




I always print out a full sized copy of the image I am going to do to use so I can use it as a reference when I am filling it in.


I then had to re-size the image to fit inside the cameo and once that was done, I printed it on a Mylar  transfer sheet which is backed by adhesive.  Here's what it looked like:



Draw the oval around it and cut it out



peel off the backing and apply the Mylar to the horn:



I had to make a couple of small cuts to make it fit smoothly on the compound curve of the horn and you'll notice that the image is reversed in this shot.  That's the way I wanted it so I'm fine.

Now I "map" the image by poking holes in it around the edge and at important milestones on the image.  I made the job more difficult this time because after doing about half of the first bird I had trouble seeing exactly where the lines were due to the fact that I had somehow smudged the ink on the Mylar.  Since I had already done some of the first bird, I couldn't take the Mylar off and make a new one because there is absolutely no way to make the image line up with what had already been mapped so I  soldiered on and mapped the birds the best I could.




Once you peel off the Mylar and ink the image, you can just barely see the outline of the birds. 

Now that the birds are mapped on the horn it is a simple matter of looking at the picture and filling in the inside of the outline.  I finished one quail and did the head of another before I quit for the evening.



Tomorrow I should be able to finish the quail and then I am going to use a different transfer technique to put the pheasant in the other cameo.  Stay tuned for that.

Regards,

Mark

seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2009, 06:32:58 AM »
The quail are finished. 




Tomorrow the Pheasant.

Stay Tuned

Mark

seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2009, 07:48:30 AM »
The image of the pheasant that I am using is a photograph so to transfer it, I had to re size it and then print it on a piece of photo paper. 

Once you have the image on the photo paper, you cut it out and then carefully peel the paper backing off of the photo paper so mostly what you are left with is the glossy part of the paper which contains the image.  This stuff is kind of rubbery and will stretch  a little bit so you don't have to make cuts to make it lay smooth on the surface.  Using a water soluble glue stick I glue it to the horn as show here.



Then, just like before,  I "map" the image onto the horn, remove the photographand wash off the glue residue.  After that it is simply a matter of filling in the image.

Here's the image I used



and here's how the engraved Pheasant came out.



I shot this using ambient light which accounts for the sepia tones.  It's really in black and white but the photos I took using a flash weren't as sharp so I used this one.  I'm trying to decide if I should put some vegetation around the bird but since the shot is so small I am concerned that it might just "muddy" the cameo too much.  Maybe tomorrow I will pencil some in and see what it looks like....

Here is another look at the quail I finished a couple of days ago.



Next up I am going to begin putting the larger images of pheasants in flight and quail in flight on the horn.

stay tuned.

Mark

seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2009, 07:57:04 AM »
Today I started scrimming the pheasants in flight.

The images were transferred using the photo paper technique I showed you above.  This time will be a little different since I am using a combination of three images to make the scene so I am putting them on one by one, beginning with the largest image.

I've got the first one about 2/3 done so far and here's what it looks like at this point.





If you look closely at the second picture you will see the outline I made using the photo.  I still have to make some adjustments to the shading but so far it looks pretty good.  Tomorrow I will finish this one and hopefully start on the second bird in flight.  After that I will add the background to complete the scene.

Stay tuned.

Mark

seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2009, 07:21:50 AM »
I finished the first of the two pheasants in flight and started on the second.  I used the photo paper method to transfer both of these images.

So far so good, I think. 

After I get these two done I will add a fence line and some background to complete the scene.  Should be able to start on that tomorrow.

Here's today's work:






This is actually going a little faster than I expected but I still have around 50 hours in this horn so far and I'm a little more than half finished with the whole project.

Let me know if you all are tired of looking at this...


Mark

Offline omark west cen colo

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2009, 09:49:23 PM »
i enjoy lookin' and learnin'.       thank you    very nice    mark
on the 4th of julypeople should fire their guns into the air to show the government who does have the power,,,b franklin!   on these walks make your gun your constant companion,,,t jefferson!   those that will give up freedom for security deserve neither freedom or security,,,b franklin!   west colo

seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2009, 08:01:45 AM »
I think I'm finished with the pheasant scene.  I added a fence line in the foreground with some grass growing around it and off in the distance a barn and silo another fence line and a lone tree.  All of the additional elements were simply drawn on to the horn then engraved.  I didn't use a pattern for them.  Hope they don't look too primitive.












Keep in mind now that the surface curves in several directions so it is nearly impossible to get a good close up shot of the whole horn and show you any detail.

This weekend I will start on the other side.  I expect that scene to take about 25 to 30 hours to do.

Thanks for watching...

Mark

seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2009, 07:39:00 AM »
Well, I figured since I had already shown you the transferring of images I'd just go ahead and get started on the flying quail.  these are the first two that I did.



The one at the bottom of the picture kind of sucks up this close but when you look at the overall horn it will look fine.  Besides I have the background and foreground to fill in yet so it will be a little camouflaged anyway.

I see by the photos that there are a few places I will have to darken still but you'll get the idea of what it looks like. 
Here are the rest of them





There will be trees in the background eventually and I think it will look a lot better with them since it will give some context to the various positions of the quail.  I'll post again when I am completely finished with this scene so you can see the difference.

Still striving for perfection....nowhere close to achieving it...

Thanks for watching.  Questions and critiques cheerfully entertained.

Regards,

Mark

Offline davec2

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2009, 02:45:53 AM »
Mark,

Beautiful work !!!  I am interested in the mylar transfer sheet material you mentioned.  What is it and where do you get it?

Thanks

Dave C
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seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2009, 06:53:30 AM »
Everybody,

Thanks for the nice words of encouragement.  I've been out of town for a few days so didn't get back to the forum until tonight.  I'm glad you're enjoying watching this come together. 

Dave C.  I got the Mylar sheet from GRS.  They make engraving equipment and you can buy the sheets they sell but they're a little pricey.  I've seen other scrimshanders use clear labels like you can buy anywhere and they'd probably work just as well but you'd be limited by the size of the label.  For small stuff like these birds, you could probably use a label if you could print the birds off one by one but I haven't learned photoshop yet so I had to use the large image I had and cut it up into little pieces to get the birds and position them where I wanted them. 

Regards,

Mark

seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #18 on: November 19, 2009, 08:41:08 AM »
I'm almost finished with the horn and other than going back over a few places to darken them, I am finished with the scrimshaw.

Here's how the flying quail look with a few trees in the background, and a little grass in the foreground.









I ran into an interesting problem with perspective with this project...due to the compound curve of the horn I had to slant the trees in toward an imaginary center point in the middle of the picture.  When you pick up the horn and look at the flying quail the trees look fine.  However when you look at the trees in relation to the border work you can clearly see that they are slanted.  It didn't occur to me that I would have this problem but I think I resolved it adequately. 

Next step is to dye the throat.  Then I will put on the staple and affix the medallion I showed in an early post.

Thanks for watching.

Mark

seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2009, 08:11:15 AM »
I have finished the horn I've been working on and posting here for the last couple of months.  Here's how the finished product came out.















All I have left to do now is make a stand for it.  I've got some rosewood and purple heart that I think will do nicely.

Hope you all enjoyed the project as much as I did.


Regards,

Mark



seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2009, 03:52:51 AM »
My client asked me where she could buy a stand so I had to make a stand befitting the horn I made.  The base is made of purpleheart on which I did silverwire inlay echoing the scrollwork beneath the engrailing on the horn.  The holders are rosewood which I've lined with deer skin.



One of my friends is a master gilder and he taught me how to gild so I did the bottom of the holders. 



I know it is a bit over the top but, hey, I got carried away.



 It's going to be a nice Christmas for this guy.





Happy Holidays everyone!!!

Mark

Offline D. Taylor Sapergia

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2009, 08:51:21 AM »
The horn looks fabulous!  So, how did you dye the neck of the horn?
D. Taylor Sapergia
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Art is not an object.  It is the excitement inspired by the object.

seesbirds

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #22 on: December 23, 2009, 05:17:17 PM »
I used potassium permanganate on it as I usually do but there was a thread on dyeing and they were talking about using Gallic Acid and then dilute nitric acid with iron filings in it to make a very permanent black dye.  I will have to try that.

Mark

Scott Brush

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #23 on: December 25, 2009, 06:44:05 AM »
Very nice, Mark!

Offline Dr. Tim-Boone

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Re: Engraving A Powder Horn
« Reply #24 on: December 29, 2009, 10:01:52 PM »
Mark,
do you use a power graver for this work?  What do you use to cut by hand??
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