How This Artist Is Reinventing Scrimshaw with Old Surfboards
by Owen James Burke
Peter Spacek‘s contemporary scrimshaw on surfboard fiberglass (Photo: Rob Gilley)
Many people shudder at the idea of scrimshaw and find it to be a nostalgic art form that takes seat on the bones of what are now vehemently protected species mostly considered to be endangered. But, there was a time when–for sailors far away at sea at least–a whale bone might have been the best available substitute for a canvas.
Whalebone art may be a relic of the past now, but Peter Spacek has stumbled upon a novel idea for rejuvenating the dying art form without any environmental controversy. In fact, it may even help clean up a few beaches. He’s using old surfboards (and pieces of old surfboards):
For days I was stressing about how I was going to create an archival piece of art for a Surfrider event. Then one morning, while sitting in bed staring across the room at the board I was given to draw on, the word “scrimshaw” just kind of popped in my head. I got up, ran into the garage in my underwear, grabbed a nail, an old board, and tested out my idea. I scratched a cartoon head into the fiberglass, poured ink over it, and…nothing. But then I poured more and wiped the excess ink away, and the image came to life and I knew it was going to work. The ink had seeped deep into the scratches and became part of the board.