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
Weiss says whaling touched
every island, but was centered in Lahaina because port fees were lower than
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.
For more information, visit Lyman Museum and Mission House and Robert Weiss' web site, www.marinearts.com
(Aileen Humphreys / HPR News)