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Big Island Artist Lectures on Scrimshaw
New England came to Hawaii in the 1800s in the form of missionaries and whalers … and Big Island artist Robert Weiss has been researching the latter.
A graphic artist by trade, Weiss learned scrimshaw --- engraving onto whale teeth and bone --- 25 years ago when a friend sent him a starter kit. He now makes a living at it --- mostly using old mammoth and walrus bone since whale bones are restricted.
He’ll give a lecture tonight at Hilo’s Lyman Museum and Mission House about Yankee whaling in Hawaii and its effects.
Weiss says whaling touched every island, but was centered in Lahaina because port fees were lower than Honolulu.
The art of scrimshaw rose when whale teeth became so plentiful, they lost their trading value. That, and whalers needed something to do during months at sea.
(Aileen Humphreys / HPR News)