No. Antler is a natural growth unique to ungulates (deer, moose, and caribou) that begins as cartilage and hardens into bone. It is attached to the skull of the animal and covered with a modified skin called velvet. Antler, unlike horn, is naturally shed and regrown each year.
I use all naturally shed antler. I have lived across the country in places where I could pick it up or have it given to me. The dogs have found it for me. However, now that I live on PEI, where there is no antler, I buy most of my antler from a reindeer sanctuary in Ontario.
No, antler is modified bone and falls off every year (moose, deer, elk, reindeer and caribou) and horn is modified hair and stays on for life (goats, cows, sheep, bison etc ). Horn also smells like burnt hair when it’s carved. I much prefer to work with antler.
I source my bone from a local farmer. It’s marrow bone that I clean and whiten myself. I don’t actually bleach it, as the bleach would make the bone weak and powdery. I degrease it with washing soda and then soak it in a series of peroxide and ammonia solutions before leaving it to dry in the sun.
For the most part, I work with high speed grinders and rotary tools. These are similar to what a dentist uses to drill teeth. In fact when I started out, my first ever bits for these tools were used burrs from my dentists office. I do use files for finishing details.
And I have some great gouges and knives which I still use sometimes when I am working with wood.
No. I use the same (power) tools and burrs that I use for carving wood. Though they do dull at a faster rate. And I use a metal cutting blade on my band saw.
I sand to a very fine grit and then use a cotton buffing wheel on a bench motor to buff to a highly polished finish. I don’t add any varnish.
I stated carving over 30 years ago. My best friend wanted to take an evening decoy carving course and asked me to join her. I loved it and carved decoys and birds for the 10 next years.
When we lived in Yellowknife, NWT, I shared studio space with carvers who were working in antler and ivory, and made the switch to bone and antler then.
I do all the work myself. I create my own designs and do the all of the carving and finishing myself. I listen to a lot of podcasts and books while I work.
I use diluted acrylics to create washes of colour. This allows me to add colour to the pieces without hiding the natural grains of the wood.
Yes, I have done many commissions over the years. I enjoy the challenge of carving items and subject matter that I might not have thought to try myself. See my gallery of commissions to see some of these pieces.
Yes, I ship internationally. Please contact me to discuss options and prices for shipping outside of Canada.