An INAKA carving reflects the diversity of plants and animals on earth. Inspiration for some surreal pieces may come from myth, travels, reading—even the clouds and the sunsets. Some ideas are inspired by the raw material itself.
The final piece is created not by working on the material but by working in co-operation with the medium. It is certain that something within the antler cannot be forced and helps to determine its final shape. Each piece is custom designed, whether it is a contemporary antler sculpture or a classical antler flower carving.
My creations are tactile and textural. Most are meant to be handled. Over time, they will develop a rich patina from the oils in your hands. This means they will become more beautiful as they are passed down through the generations.
The bases are of prairie woods executed by my creative partner. Other natural materials are used as accents.
Commissions (residential, corporate, commercial) are accepted to turn a favorite subject into a treasured carving.
I create my art using antler as the medium. Being the second fastest growing thing in nature, antlers are similar to ivory but much harder.
Antler has been referred to as “ethical ivory”. They are shed every year by the male of the deer, elk and moose families. It is a renewable resource and does not require the demise of an animal for its use.
Antler is a rigid material similar in texture to bone and ivory. It is very hard and durable and responds favorably to finely detailed carving and polishing.
Antler varies in color from white, through beige and yellow to brown, often with a purplish tint. It also varies in color between species, between locations on the antler itself and between animals of the same species.
In a few cases such as the flower heads of ladyslippers, tagua nut (also called vegetable ivory) is carved. Tagua nut is hard and slightly yellow in color. It takes a polish similar to antler.
Reg’s Methods of Work
Carving is done primarily with a Foredom or Dremel flex-shaft unit using a multitude of different sized carbide bits. Initially a piece is finished with a diamond grit bit before hand sanding. Many are carved from a single piece of antler. Some are created from two or more solid pieces that are laminated, then carved as if they are one piece.
Other larger creations are made from many pieces of antler that are put together. In this case, once a subject motif is chosen, antler pieces must be picked to suit the purpose. Since antler is very hard and rigid, pieces with the necessary curves must be found and selected if curved areas are to be included in the final piece. I attempt to find antler pieces that most closely approximate the desired final shape.
The thickness of an antler piece is also a consideration to minimize the amount of material that has to be carved away. For example, I would choose a thin piece from the flat part of a moose antler for a carving of a leaf that is relatively flat, but I would select a thicker piece from the stem of an elk antler for a leaf that is curled, and then carve it in a curled shape.
Care must also be given to selecting pieces of similar color. The pieces are often carved separately to allow for a high degree of detail to be included in the piece. After, the pieces are combined using a combination of epoxy glue and antler dust to imitate the color of the pieces being attached. If an attachment site is precarious, wood or metal pins are used to strengthen the joint. After curing, the attachment site is also carved and the detail from the surrounding pieces extended over the epoxied surface.
Most pieces are finished with natural oil which soaks in, giving a nice glow, rather than a shine. In some cases, color is added to the finishing oil. Where a definitive color is required, as in the black side of a chess set, water-based dyes are set into the pieces before finishing.
A beautiful aspect of antler is that it absorbs oils from your skin when handled, similar to pearls and ivory. The oils and handling add highlights to the piece, so feel free to handle my work as much as possible. I am proud of every piece that I offer. I feel that a custom handcrafted antler carving is a reflection of my skill.