Quality and Grades of Artistic Ivory
The main sources of Mammoth Ivory are the regions of Siberia and Alaska. Although the average age of mammoth ivory that is sourced is 10,000 years but there are many instances when anthropologists have dated mammoth ivory to be over 50,000 years old. Many mammoth ivory tusks have been found to be over 14 feet long and male tusks are bigger than the female ones. One of the rare finds is the baby tusks without any damage.
The extinct Mammoth ivory known to be harvested from Woolly Mammoths that perished at least 10,000 years ago, has become rare to find and has become a bigger trade proposition in the last few decades, especially after the ban on the elephant ivory. The excavated mammoth ivory is legally dug and is segregated in a variety of grading and many specific ivory categorizations. There are many forms of ivory which do not make the grade for artistic endeavors, amongst other varieties. Broadly classified into Grade ‘A’ Ivory which comprises of complete tusks, though the length and weight may differ. There is Bark Ivory which does not have complete inner ivory and 3 grades of ivory for artists.
When artists are looking for workable ivory, there are innumerable reputable dealers to source your working ivory sheets or plates. Usually the excavated raw ivory tusks have bluish tinge due to chemical reactions with the minerals in the soil over thousands of years. Good quality ivory chunks, tusks are utilized by sculptors who need the complete ivory not just the thin sheets to carve unimaginable scenes and designs to add value to any place.
While the artists who paint on ivory require think sheets that are created by cutting or slicing chunks of ivory into very fine sheets. These can be small and circular or even rectangular depending upon the requirement. The prices are high and vary according to the size and shape of ivory sheets. Watercolors are the best medium to use for painting on ivory as they enhance the natural sheen and translucence of ivory.
Before you can begin painting on ivory, very good care is to be taken while storing and handling ivory sheets. Ivory needs to be kept in optimum temperature at a specific humidity level, covered by soft cloth to preserve it at its best. In case, ivory starts drying, it quickly turns to splinters and chips away fast.
Only one of the best artists use this medium of painting as it is rare and valuable both before painting and even more after the picture is completed.
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