I'll probably have to give up on this idea

Randy F

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More correctly, I should say that I'll likely have to give up on this idea unless one of you has a suggestion that could solve the problem.

Before I moved again for work I had a little set up playing around with a little coal forge making a few blades. I wasn't really any good at it but it was a fun pastime and someday will likely start up again. The biggest reason I started doing that was because I like to shed hunt with my dog for whitetail antlers and had a whole pile laying around that I wanted to do something with them.
For lack of a better idea at the time, I thought I'd start off with knife handles and the like. Not so original but something different for me. However, I sort of wanted to do something besides just chopping them up and gluing them to my inferior blades. So I decided to try using a wood burner on the antlers for small drawings. Since some of these little "decorations" were no bigger than a dime, I had quite the hilarious concoction of magnifying equipment set up to aid my aging eyes. You would have been amused. I started out with small things like pine bows, leaves, feathers and the like for practice. My wife discovered my secret new hobby and claimed she was impressed. (heard that before, what does she want now?) At her behest, I started making a bunch of small pendants, pins, necklaces and crap like that for her to add to her craft show table addiction that she had going. It was good practice for me and surprisingly enough, sold like gangbusters. Enough that I was relieved when her "craft season" was done.

With the craft thing done I started working on knife handles and sometimes just a shed by itself. Some of them turned out ok and I was satisfied with my progress even though I have a long way to go. The challenge with wood burning antlers is the texture. You can't just draw a line, it really ends up being just a series of a thousand dots and color is achieved by the length of time the tip is held on that dot. Pixels, if you will.

So now the problem...they fade over time. :Bored: I did not see that coming. Crap. Although I can't help an evil grin when I think of a bunch of ladies whose deer horn pendants with a feathers burned into them now being blank, (I know, not nice) the handles and horns were a bigger project.

I have tried UV spray and brush on barriers in case it's a UV issue. I've tried spray and brush-on clear coats in case it was a moisture on atmospheric thing. And both.

I could be wrong (my way better half is very prudent in providing frequent reminders of such instances), but I think the darkening of the burning is just being naturally absorbed into the antler. So I don't know what to do about it and am open to any and all suggestions to try. I hate to give it up because it's a rather fun challenge but it's a bit pointless if it just disappears over time...don't ya think?

I'm going to show you a couple of very early examples of a couple of handles and one shed. Keep your expectations low. Very low. Low like my (now) wife did back in the dating days, she's the queen of keeping expectations low...obviously.

The first pics are of a knife I gave to my buddy in SA when he and his wife came here to visit a couple of years ago. On the side is a drawing of an antler shed lying in the grass and on the end is a fawn also lying in the grass. I tell you this because when you witness it for yourself you may not recognize what it's supposed to be. What is in my head does not always transfer completely to the hot end of the stick. The fawn is about the size of a quarter.

The next pics are of a stand alone antler (3/4 completed when they were taken) of three American Buffalo. Again made for a friend who worked on a Buffalo ranch.

I have not seen what these two items look like now. I hate to. But the last pics are of a little knife handle with a bear cub in a tree that is about dime-sized. They look better at a distance, unfortunately I need you to see close-ups if anything is to be resolved. Here you will see what it looked like when finished 4 years ago and what it looks like now. Ignore the blade on this, it was just stuck in the handle as a holder in the vise.


copy kn4 (2).PNG
kn3.PNG

buf2.jpg
buf1.jpg
kn2 (2).PNG
kn5.jpg
kn1.PNG
 

Randy F

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This is pretty cool!
I think with any hobby the first goal is to take one’s mind off of life’s difficulties. After that: getting good at something. It looks like you are accomplishing both.

My favorite is the fawn.
Thank you.
I just don’t know what to do about the fading. If that’s what’s going happen then I’ll have to pick another hobby. It’s like writing with disappearing ink.
 

Randy F

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I wonder what type of clear seal coat will stop the fading? I bet one of the folks that do restoration work in a museum could give some guidance.
I hope so. I’ve researched it some but I’ll keep at until I’ve exhausted the options. I still have UV stuck in my head.
 

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Have you tried any of the Cerakote clear coatings?
They are air cured, have a closed surface once cured (keeps the atmosphere out) and are UV stable (slow to no fade).
I have sprayed them on with an air brush to colour case hardening and fine engraving on firearms.
Some of these parts I coated years ago and today they look like the day I applied them.
I used the MC-160 gloss and is available in a small 4oz (118mls) bottle direct from Cerakote.
They have a matte version as well.
Just a thought.
 

Randy F

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Could you rub them with ink, wipe off the extra-kinda like a tattoo? Love your work, I see why they were in such demand
I tried that with a scrap piece. It doesn’t work as well as one would think as it tends to blur the lines and sink into the surrounding material...it’s too porous. In short, it’s a mess.
 
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Randy F

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Have you tried any of the Cerakote clear coatings?
They are air cured, have a closed surface once cured (keeps the atmosphere out) and are UV stable (slow to no fade).
I have sprayed them on with an air brush to colour case hardening and fine engraving on firearms.
Some of these parts I coated years ago and today they look like the day I applied them.
I used the MC-160 gloss and is available in a small 4oz (118mls) bottle direct from Cerakote.
They have a matte version as well.
Just a thought.

Hadn’t thought of that one and will definitely try it. Thank you!
I’ll let you know in a couple of years if it works. :)
 

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Pyrographic
Thank you.
I just don’t know what to do about the fading. If that’s what’s going happen then I’ll have to pick another hobby. It’s like writing with disappearing ink.

Many artists abandon the medium for the exact reason you state.
Look up "Pyrographic" and you will see what many artists say on the subject.
woodburnerdotcom has some folks in the know.

Good luck.
 

Randy F

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Pyrographic


Many artists abandon the medium for the exact reason you state.
Look up "Pyrographic" and you will see what many artists say on the subject.
woodburnerdotcom has some folks in the know.

Good luck.
Thanks!
 

mikecatt13

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I unfortunately dont have any idea why that would happen and it's kind of crazy to me that it does. Sorry I'm of no help, but that's some pretty darn cool work you've done!
 

Randy F

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Thanks. I kinda sucks. I'm no artist by any means but it's fun to make them....they're all for gifts. I don't sell anything other than the few trinkets my bride wanted.
 

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Man @Randy F you are talented individual my friend, very very nice work. The fawn and buffalo are my favorite. I hope you can find a way. Keep at it.
 
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More correctly, I should say that I'll likely have to give up on this idea unless one of you has a suggestion that could solve the problem.

Before I moved again for work I had a little set up playing around with a little coal forge making a few blades. I wasn't really any good at it but it was a fun pastime and someday will likely start up again. The biggest reason I started doing that was because I like to shed hunt with my dog for whitetail antlers and had a whole pile laying around that I wanted to do something with them.
For lack of a better idea at the time, I thought I'd start off with knife handles and the like. Not so original but something different for me. However, I sort of wanted to do something besides just chopping them up and gluing them to my inferior blades. So I decided to try using a wood burner on the antlers for small drawings. Since some of these little "decorations" were no bigger than a dime, I had quite the hilarious concoction of magnifying equipment set up to aid my aging eyes. You would have been amused. I started out with small things like pine bows, leaves, feathers and the like for practice. My wife discovered my secret new hobby and claimed she was impressed. (heard that before, what does she want now?) At her behest, I started making a bunch of small pendants, pins, necklaces and crap like that for her to add to her craft show table addiction that she had going. It was good practice for me and surprisingly enough, sold like gangbusters. Enough that I was relieved when her "craft season" was done.

With the craft thing done I started working on knife handles and sometimes just a shed by itself. Some of them turned out ok and I was satisfied with my progress even though I have a long way to go. The challenge with wood burning antlers is the texture. You can't just draw a line, it really ends up being just a series of a thousand dots and color is achieved by the length of time the tip is held on that dot. Pixels, if you will.

So now the problem...they fade over time. :Bored: I did not see that coming. Crap. Although I can't help an evil grin when I think of a bunch of ladies whose deer horn pendants with a feathers burned into them now being blank, (I know, not nice) the handles and horns were a bigger project.

I have tried UV spray and brush on barriers in case it's a UV issue. I've tried spray and brush-on clear coats in case it was a moisture on atmospheric thing. And both.

I could be wrong (my way better half is very prudent in providing frequent reminders of such instances), but I think the darkening of the burning is just being naturally absorbed into the antler. So I don't know what to do about it and am open to any and all suggestions to try. I hate to give it up because it's a rather fun challenge but it's a bit pointless if it just disappears over time...don't ya think?

I'm going to show you a couple of very early examples of a couple of handles and one shed. Keep your expectations low. Very low. Low like my (now) wife did back in the dating days, she's the queen of keeping expectations low...obviously.

The first pics are of a knife I gave to my buddy in SA when he and his wife came here to visit a couple of years ago. On the side is a drawing of an antler shed lying in the grass and on the end is a fawn also lying in the grass. I tell you this because when you witness it for yourself you may not recognize what it's supposed to be. What is in my head does not always transfer completely to the hot end of the stick. The fawn is about the size of a quarter.

The next pics are of a stand alone antler (3/4 completed when they were taken) of three American Buffalo. Again made for a friend who worked on a Buffalo ranch.

I have not seen what these two items look like now. I hate to. But the last pics are of a little knife handle with a bear cub in a tree that is about dime-sized. They look better at a distance, unfortunately I need you to see close-ups if anything is to be resolved. Here you will see what it looked like when finished 4 years ago and what it looks like now. Ignore the blade on this, it was just stuck in the handle as a holder in the vise.


View attachment 379441View attachment 379442
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@RandyF
Nice work my friend it's a pity it fades with time.
Unfortunately beauty does fade with time , get a photo of yourself at 20 then look in the mirror while holding the photo. You will see what I mean but to your problem I have no ideas.
Bob
 

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Reading your OP my feelings were neutral.....until I saw the photos! Those renditions are really nice. It is a shame about the fading. I had a friend that used a flex shaft with dental burs to carve scenes into antler. The bud, with the crown around it, made a nice half dollar sized piece. Maybe move that direction if you have some kind of dremel tool or die grinder. Just a thought.
 

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Those look great!! Very cool idea. I have an idea with no clue if it will work or not so some experiments may be at hand. Some parts grow and live off of the proteins within that keep them healthy from the host...hair and nails come to mind on us...but antlers I have no clue. It could be due to the long term evaporation of proteins left within the antlers after they fell off. If that is the cause then you could try speeding up the process by dehydration till the colors have changed then burning designs after they’re done. Maybe try a low controlled temp for a few days and see if the dehydration causes the fading color change before you burn them? Kinda curious now I may try dehydrating a set too now
 

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Reading your OP my feelings were neutral.....until I saw the photos! Those renditions are really nice. It is a shame about the fading. I had a friend that used a flex shaft with dental burs to carve scenes into antler. The bud, with the crown around it, made a nice half dollar sized piece. Maybe move that direction if you have some kind of dremel tool or die grinder. Just a thought.
Actually I do have a dremel with a flex shaft and fiddle around some with carving. It's tedious work but I can see another addiction coming. The thing with doing either project is that in neither case can you use an eraser of any kind. If you screw up you start over with a new blank no matter how far into it you are. So when you finally achieve the end result after a snail-paced marathon, it's pretty disheartening to see it fade away after a few years.

Thank you for the compliments and the ideas. Much appreciated.
 

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