Rick Bowles

For over thirty-five years I have had the privilege of being the only authorized Scrimshander for world famous Randall Made Knives® of Orlando Florida. My work is available exclusively on Randall Made Knives®. Since beginning my association with the Randall family in 1981, I’ve scrimshawed well over twelve hundred Randall knives and, with few exceptions, each piece is signed and numbered. All Randall knives to be scrimshawed must be sent to the shop for forwarding to me and, on completion, must go back through the Randall shop for cataloging and forwarding to the customer. This process both insures the authenticity of the work and provides valuable information for the Randall archives.

Scrimshaw is the art of “drawing” pictures on polished ivory, with a sharp needle or knife. The scratched (etched or engraved) ivory surface is rubbed with ink and only the scratches hold the ink when the ink is wiped off the smooth ivory. Scrimshaw was born during the golden age of whaling in the 18th and 19th centuries. The whale hunting ships would stay at sea for years. This afforded the whalers an abundance of idle time and plenty of whale bones and teeth on which to practice their craft. Using a jack knife or a sharpened sail canvas needle for a scribe, the sailors would scratch out their renditions of the ship, the whale hunt or the girl they left back in port.

With the exception of Native American folk art, Scrimshaw is said to be the only original American art form. I’ve always believed that Scrimshaw, like anything done by hand, is a craft. The individual craftsman is responsible for using his or her talent, creativity and ability to elevate their work beyond the craft it’s self. In the final analysis, art like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
All images and text on this site, past and present, are protected under copyright. ©2011 Rick Bowles www.RBscrim.com