Kitten Post Earrings
Kitten Post Earrings handmade by Michelle Tapia out of 20,000 year old fossilized walrus tusk. The scrimshaw or hand etching is created by carving lines into the ivory and adding ink. This adorable kitten face is set in sterling silver. The earring measures 3/8″ of an inch around.
People who are familiar with scrimshaw are often times confused that a Spanish girl from New Mexico is working on fossilized walrus tusk. My designs are all from my heart and my culture. My love of animals and anything of beauty influence me most.” — Michelle Tapia
Scrimshaw is a technique employed by sailors in the 1800s using whale teeth and squid ink to create beautiful pieces of art. Not only was this a way to kill time on their long voyages, but gave the sailors something to barter at port for items they needed. Scrimshaw literally means “to waste time”.
Michelle Tapia uses fossilized walrus tusk and tagua nut, which is the palm seed from Ecuador in her jewelry designs. The walrus tusk is dug up off the coast of St. Lawrence Island, Alaska and can be up to 20,000 years old. All the walrus died of natural causes. The color desponds on what minerals were present where the tusks were found. The Inuit also use this technique in their art. Tapia never uses elephant ivory or fresh walrus tusk.
Care must be taken so that the ink does not fade on her pieces. She recommends that you wipe them with a dry cloth and avoid getting them wet. Over time, especially her rings may slightly fade. In these cases, she will re-ink the pieces at no charge.
Santa Fe Artist: Michelle Tapia
Michelle Tapia is an award-winning jeweler and scrimshaw artist from Los Alamos, New Mexico. Scrimshaw is a technique developed by sailors in the 1800’s using whale teeth and squid ink to create beautiful pieces of art. Tapia uses fossilized walrus tusk and tagua nut, a palm seed from Ecuador. The walrus tusk is dug up off St. Lawrence Island in Alaska and is approximately 20,000 years old. All of the walrus died of natural causes. Tapia never uses elephant ivory or fresh walrus tusk. The tusks she uses are completely legal. Inspired by animals, nature, love, and beauty, she makes each of her designs by hand.
Best of Show 3-Dimensional 2001 Contemporary Hispanic Market 1st Place Precious Metals 2002
Feria Artistica Best of Crafts 2005 Contemporary Hispanic Market Best of Misc. 2005
Contemporary Hispanic Market Best of Show 2007
Contemporary Hispanic Market Best of Fine Jewelry 2007
Contemporary Hispanic Market Purchase Piece “Adam and Eve” Heard Museum permanent collection Best of Jewelry 2009
Contemporary Hispanic Market Best of fine Jewelry 2014
Contemporary Hispanic Market Best of fine Jewelry 2015
Contemporary Hispanic Market
Note: Care must be taken so that the ink does not fade. Wipe with a dry cloth and avoid getting jewelry wet.