Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bone spiral gauge earrings

Bone carving is an ancient art that predates modern civilization and has provided us with windows into the past. Early civilizations worked bone for tools and functional purposes. Many cultures are known today for their bone carvings. In New Zealand, the Maori people developed their own artistic style that is recognized world wide. Tradionally, bone carving was used in New Zealand to tell stories as the Maori had no formal written language.

Today, the majority of reasonably priced bone carvings and bone jewelry such as bone spiral gauge earrings are made in Indonesia, Vietnam or Thailand. Both countries have a rich tradition in artisan wares and their culture is often reflected in their work. In Indonesia, almost all bone carving that is produced for mass markets is made from Water Buffalo bone. Water Buffalo are used as a meat source and all parts of the animal are used. The horn is involved in carving as is the bone.

Techniques for preparing bone can greatly vary. Ultimately, all meat, fat and cartilage is removed and the bone is allowed to dry. Sometimes it is also bleached. Tradional bone carving involved hand tools and polishing by rubbing with fingers or cloth. Modern bone carving involves cut into flattened pieces using a bandsaw or hacksaw. A design template is placed over the bone and stenciled onto the bone creating a pattern. Next the bone is rough cut into the appropriate shape with a jewelers saw, bandsaw or similar device. Once a rough pattern is produced, the item is ground using an electric grinding or sanding wheel to produce the overall shape. Smooth curves are produced by skilled hands which keep the item being carved in continual motion to produce a smooth finish. Final detailing is provided by an electric hand piece and treadle with a revolution of approximately 15,000 RPMs. Various finishing bits are used depending on the desired effect. The item is then sanded with a fine grit sandpaper. The last step involves polishing the item to perfection using a polish such as white rouge and a cotton polishing wheel on the grinder.

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