Scrimshaw Buttons

The buttons shown below are buttons I have created for button collectors.  Prices for these buttons run from around $25.00 - $100.00+ - Depending on the material used, size, and amount of time used in creating the finished button. 

April, 2010, my right thumb got badly infected, and the PA in the Emergency Room made cuts that have affected the mending process ~ The thumb is still not quite able to work with the scrimshanding tools. Very frustrating!

I will post a note, as soon as I can grasp my tools well enough to begin scrimming once more!! Please have patience...


 Owl on ivory        Cock crowing on ivory

            Thistle on bone

          Mermaid on piano key ivory   





Row 1: Owl on Ivory - Flying Duck on Ivory - Cock Crowing on Ivory

Row 2: Baby Owl Peeking Out of Antler - Sea Turtle on Tagua w/Border of "Bark" -
Beach Scene on Faux Ivory Thistle on Bone

Row 3: Candle on Ivory - Higgins Ink on Ivory - Mermaid on Old Ivory Piano Key - Basket on Tagua

Row 4: Junk on Tagua w/Skin Border - Henry Stanley on Ivory - Rhino on Bone

Row 5: Two Sea Turtles on Tagua - Mermaid on Piano Key

Row 6: Mermaid on Piano Key - Chinese Junk on Tagua - Palm Tree & Moon on Tagua

Row 7: Two Golliwogs on Tagua

~ Most of the buttons above are Large Size ~


If you would like to place a special order for a button, or if you have any questions about my work, please send an email with any specifics, such as the material you prefer, subject matter, size, whatever, to me at


My Scrimshaw Story

Scrimshanding is an art that I truly enjoy.  For years, I had been doing small pen & ink drawings with a lot of detail.  In the early 80's, while window-shopping in Provincetown, I saw some beautiful pieces of scrimshaw.  I noticed that the detail of the scrimshaw was similar to what I had been drawing, so I decided to try my hand at scrimshaw and bought some ivory "blanks".  It was mostly trial and error using a sharpened horse blanket pin to etch the design, but it was a beginning. The work was fun... challenging... and addicting!  Scrimshanding also has a calming effect [on me], as it demands complete concentration.

I don't use the blanket pin any longer, I use scribing tools, Exacto knives, penknives, dentist tools ~ but NO power tools!  I have a great time scrimming.  The process I use isn't exactly the type which is written about in books about the sailors on whaling ships, but it works for me.  A lot of family members and friends received gifts of scrimmed jewelry during the first couple of years, as I learned the skill.  I even sold a few pieces!!  All the while, I was getting better at the art.

In 1982, when I began collecting buttons, it was only a small step to creating scrimshaw buttons... Martha Breen (a fellow member of the Crescent Button Club who was a Button Dealer) saw some of my buttons and suggested I make more for her to sell on consignment.  Oh, was I thrilled!!  I started making more buttons... and found other materials to use - bone, plastics, piano keys, Tagua nuts, old pearl buttons, woods, man-made "ivory"...  It really doesn't matter what you use as long as the finished product works.

I do not condone killing elephants or whales for ivory - I use old ivory that I've bought from antique sales, and ivory scraps that bought from a Master Scrimshander from Cape Cod.

Scrimshanding buttons has resulted in my making many new friends across the United States and Canada... It is difficult for me to make something (most of my work is special order) without getting to know the person who is ordering the piece!

There are many artists making scrimshaw buttons, with more emerging each year, who are exceptionally skilled artisans!!  I hope to someday own an example of each person's work.  I do not have more than a couple of my own pieces in my button collection.  I marvel at all Studio Button Artists and their fine work!

Being a "Studio Artist" is wonderful, and the friendships made with other collectors makes everything so much more delightful!


About Tagua Nuts

The Tagua nuts that I use are specially ordered from One World Projects, an organization that is trying to save the Rain Forests in Ecuador - I have been buying my Tagua from this group since I discovered how well the Tagua works for scrimming. 

I urge anyone with an interest in Tagua, or Vegetable Ivory, to take a look at all the information contained on One World's website!  You will be entranced, as I was, at the amount of information they share about these nuts!!  And, the photographs are really nifty!  You may also purchase many of the Tagua products made by the Ecuadorians (my word) such as - Buttons, Beads, Jewelry, Carvings, Ornaments, Etched Nuts and much more. They do not sell whole nuts in bulk any longer, but they do sell blanks for scrimshanding. Sure am glad that I was able to buy the bunch of nuts, while they were still available!





Click the sign above to return to Kirsti's home page


The sign is obviously not a button... it is part of a wonderful boardwalk in Sandwich, MA. Click picture below to see more of the names on each board ~ Photo taken in 1996...




All of the Images Contained on this page are the Copyright of Kirsti - Please Contact Me for Permission for Use





August 17, 2014

Copyright ⓒ