Displaying a narwhal tusk

Tim da Prez

True Grumbler
May 12, 2004
Columbus Ohio
Well, this was a new one for me... :eek:

Client has an antique narwhal tusk (acquired before the animal protection laws went into effect), and wants to display it. The frame will not have glazing, so the owner can remove the tusk from time to time to show. We'll cover plywood (or MDF) with fabric as a backing, and attach a frame around the board simply as decoration. We want to create two "hooks" that the tusk will rest in, but the question is what material to use. It has to be strong: this thing is 7-1/2 feet long and heavy, but the client is also concerned that whatever is actually touching the tusk (ivory) won't discolor it, or cause some sort of chemical reaction.

I told my client I'd consult with the experts (that's all of you!) :D ...any comments or suggestions?

Thanks for your input,

Tim O
Reed Arts
Columbus OH
Ivory is chemically sensitive and a sheet of
acrylic or Dibond as the support material makes
more sense than any wood product. You can
carve holders out of Teflon (look on the McMaster-Carr web site), which is non-reactive and those can be screwed to the backing from the verso. Ivory should not be allowed to dry out, so it should be kept away from dry air in the winter.

big puppy hinges but some sort of gravity/hinging to allow access AND protest the tusk would be me choice-----best of all worlds???--protected from dirt/dust, allows access to remove it(what would one do with a 7' tusk???), and , perhaps, provide some sort of help in the dessicant air situation("Ivory should not be allowed to dry out, so it should be kept away from dry air in the winter.") could/would a small shotglass of h2o INSIDE the "enclosed" frame help in this reguard Hugh(assuming it wouldnt messup the entire package)?
I just finish framing a narwhal tusk a few months ago, I used leather straps to hold the tusk into place, one at the tip which did not open you just slide the tip into the loop, one in the mid and one at the large end of the tusk, these two opened and were held together with brass buttons, you need to use a fairly thick leather, one that doen't have much give in it. The straps were held onto the backing board (1/8 hardboard covered with a seude mat) with brass bolts and nuts which I also covered with a softer leather, and this was done to pervent the bolts from scaring the tusk. I did have photo's but at the moment I can't find them in my computer, but if I do I will post them for you. Also a narwhal tusk isn't ivory it is actually a tooth, this so make sure you support the middle of the tusk because they can crack.