Bone carving was one of the earliest forms of art. It is still a fun and profitable hobby, especially if you plan to sell your wares at craft fairs and festivals. Carving bone is easy, once you get used to the process. It is an excellent way to create attractive three-dimensional art from natural materials.
You will need a few materials before you can begin the carving process. Gathering these items ahead of time will help you feel organized and allow you to focus on carving once you begin the process. Tools used for bone carving include a coping saw, engraving chisels, etching knives, scrapers, round files, a hand drill, and sand paper. You will also need your bone pieces.
There are a variety of places you can find bones for carving. Whale bones used to be the most popular type for carving, but environmental protection laws have limited access to the bones of whales and other sea creatures. You will likely have greater luck using bones from animals with unprotected populations. If you hunt, you can use the bones from your prey, such as deer or moose. You can also speak to local hunting groups about collecting their bones or ask your local butcher how they dispose of bones at their shops. Another option is speaking to an area nature center, especially if you live in a rustic area where large game roam.
Once you have your tools and a collection of bones, you can begin carving. Use a few small bones to practice carving, just to get a feel for the process. Once you are comfortable, create a design on paper that you can copy into your carving. You should clean the bone before beginning your carving and use the saw to remove pieces that are extraneous to your project. Wipe the exterior of the bone with a rough cloth and sand or cut away the extra pieces.
After the exterior of the bone is cleaned, remove the marrow from inside the bone. Pour water into a bucket, add a teaspoon of soap, and let the bone soak for at least 24 hours. Let the bone dry naturally in the sun. Once the bone is clean, outline the shape of your design with a pencil because it will make carving easier. You can then begin the process of carving the bone with your chisels and knives. Once the rough carving is complete, sand the edges. It will take some trial and error to shape the bone into a final piece.
Finish the Carving
Once the carving is complete and you have sanded any sharp edges, you can apply a resin to the bone to protect the carving. If you plan to create jewelry from the carving, now is the time to add the hardware. Bone carving can be a tedious process, but it is very rewarding. It allows you to take a natural item and turn it into three-dimensional art. Once you have learned how to carve bone, you can create a variety of attractive, artistic pieces for you, your friends and family, and for selling to fans of handicrafts.