These steps are for a simple scrimshaw product on Corian, a countertop material that was salvaged from a kitchen contractor.

I will also show the Amazon products I used. Sorry I couldn’t get them to ”link”

Here is the final scrimshaw tile I did in preparation for a course I gave to students at the Hampton, NH. Public Library.

step one

I drew some practice lines on a scrap piece of Corian using a fine tip Sharpie. Corian has a shiny side and a dull side. Always work on the shiny side.

Secure the tile to a piece of stiff cardboard slightly larger than the project. This will allow you to rotate the piece easily while you work. I used a piece of laminate flooring. use modeling clay ( the kind that stays soft) to secure the tile. you could also just tape the edges to the cardboard.

The stylus

I used this same stylus for a year when doing scrimshaw. It is a metal etching stylus.

I put a pencil grip on these, although this is not necessary.

rules to help you scribe

  1. use a bright light on your work
  2. hold the scribe as upright as possible
  3. keep the tip of the scribe ON the line.
  4. lightly scratch the surface of the Corian pulling the scribe toward you while holding the Corian securely.
  5. Go over this line again. As a general rule, the deeper the line, the darker it will be be in your final piece. Once it is inked.
  6. practice straight lines , wavy lines and gentle curves.
  7. Use the scribe to make the lines for the grid on the bottom right of the practice piece.


use the top row of the boxes to do crosshatch shading. kind of like tic tac toe. Closer and closer lines will shade darker with ink. You will see this better once we ink this piece.

I use Golden acrylic ink. or Black acrylic paint.

sailors used ”lamp black” a carbon reside found after burning an oil lamp.



using a nitrile ”rubber” glove, rub the ink into your piece. Wipe it off with a rag. It should look like this.

notice how the crosshatching darkens as you put more and more crisscrosses.

The bottom squares are for dots. more and more dots make darker shading areas.

the Project

step one: transferring an image

If you can draw, pencil in the object you wish to scribe. ( flowers, ships, shells) If you want some ideas for a project, use google images and search for ” line drawings” I did this with the scallop shell.

I usually use some sort of a transfer medium. The simplest is

Carbon Paper-

practice on a piece of paper first

  1. image on top
  2. carbon paper ( black side is down next to paper)
  3. paper
  4. use a pencil or the special ball stylus that came with the paper.

Here’s what the transfer looks like on the paper

You can fill in any lines you missed with regular pencil

Transferring to your art tile

Using the same transfer method, use carbon paper again. Note: try to center your work on the tile.

Scribe the lines on the tile.

after securing the tile with tape or clay to heavy cardboard or other material

Use your shading techniques if the subject calls for it

crosshatching is the simplest

Ink the tile

wipe off excess ink-

use fine steel wool if the ink is ”stubborn”

I may ink the piece,

add some more shading

re-ink until happy

sometimes I use a small cuticle instrument to add some character and highlights to the piece.

Don’t forget to sign your piece.

Use a neutral shoe polish in a thin layer to polish the piece.

most scrimshander use Renaissance wax

Of course, one of my students spent the entire time on her piece ( which came out fantastic!)