Archive for the ‘Powderhorns and More News’ Category

Rick Froehlich, Powder Horns and More, Builder of the Month

January 3, 2015

The business, PowderHorns and More, is adding a new feature to their website.  Gerry Messmer is starting off the year with a long time friend and customer, Rick Froehlich.

1976 was a life changing year for many of us who are still in the powder horn making business. Everywhere we turned, people were talking about the 200th birthday of the United States of America.  Muzzleloading shoots and rendezvous were being held all over the West.  Living History and any thing to do with the Revolutionary War received a big boost on the East Coast.

Rick Froehlich, now of Omaha, Nebraska, started making powder horns during this wonderful time. Walt Disney and Fess Parker in the old 50’s TV show, Davey Crockett, first sparked his interest in shooting muzzleloaders.  In the early 70’s, he bought his first real muzzleloading rifle and started to make all of the things needed from shooting to shelter.

Around 1975, he made his first powder horn, and as they say, the rest is history.

Traditional and Contemporary Horns by Rick Froelich

Traditional and Contemporary Horns by Rick Froehlich 

Discription of the these three horns. Top: From art called “Duck hunters”.  With man, son and dog in marsh.  (M) Settler man being attack by bear and this three dogs attacking bear.  (B) Winged Death Skull,  18th century tombstone and accutrement  symbol design.

Today, Rick is a custom powder horn maker who has horns in just about every state and a few other countries.

He enjoys making the engraved horns of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War.

Revolutionary War style by Rick

Revolutionary War style by Rick

Interesting horns with copper at the base.

Interesting horns with copper at the base.

Detail of Rick's engraving

Settler man being attack by bear and this three dogs attacking bear.

Eagles are always a popular motif

Eagles are always a popular motif. Look at the scroll work

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Hudsons Bay Traders with Indian

 

Rick loves to make flat horns.

Rick loves to make flat horns.

Horn cup by Rick Froehlich

Horn Mug (commissioned) by Rick Froehlich

Portrait

Seneca Chief Corn Planter  (18th century)

Learning from other craftsmen in the trade is a big part of his journey.  The best part about our friend, Rick is that he loves to help new craftsmen get started in this fun and interesting hobby of powder horn making.

 

The horn making craft has come a long way in the last 40 years.  Today we are lucky to have a vast array of supplies and materials available. Also research resources to study so we can accurately learn and practice the craft.

The best way to contact rick is; rfroehlich1948@cox.net

Edited by Linda Shorb

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French and Indian Style Horn by Carl Dumke,

September 15, 2014

Carl Dumke just finished a large F&I horn that he was commission to produce. Carl is doing business under the name of Grinning Fox Studios.   Many of Carl’s horns are on his Facebook page.

This horn has the name of the owner in the style of John Bush with some chip carving between the lines of text.

French and Indian Horn  by Carl Dumke

French and Indian Horn by Carl Dumke

This is what Carl wrote: The owner is from Maryland, so I included the original name of the state as Queen Mary’s Land. I also included a few florals to represent the stylized state flower (Black-Eyed Susan).

Queen's Land

Queen’s Land

The spout is carved to represent a tulip flower and flares to a finely-detailed engrailed shoulder.

The spout is carved to represent a tulip flower.

The spout is carved to represent a tulip flower.

On the reverse is a map of the Allegheny Valley with various forts depicted on the map of Braddock’s Road I found in an old book.

The forts

The forts

The plug is made from a piece of tiger maple–you can just see the stripes and it has a turned antler finial. The plug is attached to the body with 5 square steel pins I forged in the shop.

Base Plug

Base Plug of tiger maple and turned antler

The whole horn is just over 19″ long and has been slightly aged. This black, red, and white woven horn strap from my friend Kris Polizzi to finish off the whole look of the horn to give it an authentic 1750s feel.

Finished Horn with strap.

Finished Horn with strap.

Presentation Military Power Horn from an Original by Rick Froehlech

September 1, 2014

Rick Froehlich was commissioned to make a similar powder horn from this museum photo.

Presentation Military Horn

Presentation Military Horn Photo from a museum

 

Horn by Rick Froehlich based on the original

Horn by Rick Froehlich based on the original photos

This is what he produced.  Every cow horn is different, so it was difficult to find the right one.  Rick did a fantastic job on this Military style horn.

Kevin Hart of Oregon, Featured Artist

August 30, 2014

Kevin Hart writes:
As a young boy, I remember two things that interested me most. One was movies or television that had something to do with flintlock rifles and the frontier. The other was listening to my parent’s records. Two of my favorite movies to this day were ones that I saw when very young.Tansel  b
They are “Across the Wide Missouri” staring Clark Gable and “The Big Sky” with a young Kirk Douglas, Dewey Martin & Arthur Hunnicutt as the wise old free trapper. At that time Arthur Hunnicutt was my favorite actor and still is to this day. Of course, spending time in front of the television with my brothers watching “Davy Crockett” and “Daniel Boone” also played a major influence on me later in life as well. Westerns were always a favorite, but the movies that dealt with trappers, Native Americans, flintlocks rifles and black powder were what I always wanted to watch.

Detail on the Hart Ledger Horn

Detail on the Hart Ledger Horn

I grew up smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles which is not very ideal for a young man wanting to explore the outdoors and experience what’s beyond the next mountain range. Following high school, I attended Los Angeles City College for two years, then moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico and finished college with a Communications Degree. My chosen field at the time was Radio and over that time period worked as an announcer for 3 different stations. It just so happened that I walked into a small gun store and was surprised to see that all they sold were black powder rifles and related accoutrements of the fur trade. This greenhorn couldn’t get enough stories and spent many hours sitting around the pot belly stove in that store listening to the many windies those boys could tell. Well, my passion was reborn. I bought my first black powder rifle then and haven’t looked back since. I eventually moved back to the Los Angeles area and went back to school two separate times and got in on the ground floor of the Telecommunications boom in the 1980s.

Hart Tansel 13 05 A

Cup that goes with the Tansel Horn

Cup that goes with the Tansel Horn

I met my wife Debbie during this time period and after a few years living in Santa Monica, CA we were able to purchase a nice mountain home located about an hour north of Valencia, CA. Two great kids came along but unfortunately the two hour drive down from paradise to work each day and back was difficult so after 6 years on the mountain, we moved back down in amongst them again. I had always had the dream of living in Oregon, and was finally able to transfer north in the mid 1990s and in 2003 I retired.

04 Top White

While living in New Mexico I attended local rendezvous and the same was true in California. One of my favorite rendezvous was 1982’s NMLRA/NAPR rendezvous held in the Uinta Mountains of Utah. Daily work and family commitments for many years superseded time at rendezvous so we were limited to smaller weekend events. Since the 2000’s I have had the great pleasure of attending with my brother Allen, many PPR (Pacific Primitive Rendezvous) events in Washington, Utah, Idaho, California and of course my home state of Oregon.

05 Eagle stained

In addition to the fur trade, one of my other passions is antique furniture from the Arts & Crafts period. In my late teens, I restored my first of many tiger oak pieces and eventually I began crafting and selling Arts & Craft recreations such as clocks, framed tiles and small furniture pieces. It seemed that I was always in need of some added accouterments for my persona, which led me to start making cases for black powder firearms, powder horns and other items.

Pistol Box and accessories by Keven Hart

Pistol Box and accessories by Keven Hart

The many great books and videos available today really helped me believe I could make the items I needed instead of purchasing them which helped improve my art greatly. My thanks go out to all the many artists who through personal instruction, books and videos shared their knowledge with me and others so that our American Tradition can continue.

You can reach him at

Keven Hart

Keven Hart

harts.athome@frontier.com

“Freemason Horn, Problems and All” by Kevin Hart

March 13, 2014

Guest Artist Kevin Hart is a good friend of ours from Oregon.  He plans to attend The West Coast Horn Fair this coming April.

Free Mason Horn by Keven Hart

Free Mason Horn by Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart writes: “Have you ever made a horn that from the very beginning and all the way to completion it went smoothly?

You know, from the moment you pick up the raw cow horn, it tells you what it wants to become, from design, to shaping, scrimshawing and staining.
You and the horn form a single creative instrument!
For many of my horns this is what happens. . .
EXCEPT IN THIS CASE!

For this horn, from the very beginning, it was a match of wills, wits, and staying the course.

In the end, who would emerge victorious?
I’m still not sure who won, perhaps it was a split decision?
The battle began after purchasing another fine raw horn on eBay from our friends at Powderhornsandmore.

eBay horn 1260

eBay horn 1260

It all began innocently at first, the symbiotic forces were flowing between the horn and me.
I started with an initial design layout and since the horn was thick, I decided on a lobed horn.

Raw horn cut and wing (lobe) installed.

Raw horn cut and wing (lobe) installed.

The horn was very oval with a noticeable sharp bend along the bottom butt.
It was also very thick from the tip to the butt.
Having worked oval horns in the past, I have a couple of oval forming blocks to allow for some conformity, with the goal of smoothly out the crease along the bottom.
The trouble began when trying to install the forming block.
After a minute in the hot oil bath (Mr. Fry Daddy), the horn was soft enough and I inserted the block.
After a few stern taps, the block was seated nicely and I set it down to dry and cool.
After an appropriate waiting period, I picked up the horn to view its progress.
That’s when I noticed the 1 ½ inch crack along the bottom.
#@&*^$#$#@ Strike 1
Well, there goes my lobed horn and about 1 ½ inches of nice white scrimshaw palate from the butt area.

I tend to appreciate horns that present longer throats. Since this horn was going to reflect symbols associated with the Freemasons, in particular the two-headed eagle, I decided to add a double layer of eagle feathers on the throat right after the engrailing, followed by octagonal flats all the way up to the small rounded tip, interrupted by two small wedding bands.

Throat with eagle feathers, engrailing, octagonal flats rounded tip,  and two small wedding bands

Throat with eagle feathers, engrailing, octagonal flats rounded tip, and two small wedding bands

While doing some final scraping on the bottom edge of the octagon throat, I noticed a small 1/8 inch speck appear.
What in the world??? Can it be that I have scraped and sanding through a 3/16 inch thick horn to the cavity?
@#@$%$$*#@ Strike 2
Quick. . . . Fire up the Mustang, put the top down, and blow away the cobwebs.
So, after half a tank of gas and a few layers of epoxy blended with horn shavings, the small hole was repaired.

At this point I’m pleased to say, the horn and I came to an understanding.
If it wouldn’t present any more challenges, I wouldn’t leave it in the fry daddy overnight.
On the positive side, the horn had lots of soft white surface area allowing me to scrim to my heart’s delight.

In the White

In the White

Titled: The Freemason Horn
Time period: Revolutionary War 1777
Horn length: 14 ½ inches
Throat: 6 inches stained black/dark brown (beginning at the engrailing area, the throat has two sections of what I call eagle tail feathers, then transitions to octagonal to the rounded tip interrupted by two small wedding bands.
Worn: Left side
Body: Stained light/medium yellow with brown undertones
Inscriptions: Within cartouche. Blank area for owner’s name, His horn at Fort Trumbull, January ye 30th AD 1777
“Live upon the level, park upon the square”
Butt plug: Tiger maple (Oval in shape)
Tip: Antique fiddle peg (black)
Finial: Turned & aged copper
Carvings: Freemason Symbols
Top: Sun, Moon with 7 stars, compass & square, parked cannon with 1st American flag (coiled snake) and 13 Stars & Stripes with various standards, trumpets, cannon balls and helmet.

image022

Top: Sun, Moon with 7 stars, compass & square, with parked cannon

Left side:

In the white

In the white

Left side: All seeing eye over cartouche with inscription, & level

Left side: All seeing eye over cartouche with inscription, & level

Right Side:

Right Side In the White

Right Side In the White

Hour glass, two headed Eagle with Freemasons banner, Masonic handshake, checker board with sprig of Acacia plant and Maker’s Mark.

Hour glass, two headed Eagle with Freemasons banner, Masonic handshake, checker board with sprig of Acacia plant and Maker’s Mark.

Detail of the Base plug:

Base plug with an aged turned copper finial

Base plug with an aged turned copper finial

This horn with the owner’s name engraved is available from Kevin Hart.

Cheyenne Ledger Book Powder Horn by Kevin Hart

June 11, 2013

Kevin Hart of Hillsboro Oregon bought this horn from me on eBay last month. He sent me pictures and details on how he made the horn:

“I completed the smaller horn, and figured you might wish to have a look.

Large Cow horn that was listed on eBay

Large Cow horn that was listed on eBay

“Initially I was concerned that the horn might not work.  It had a lot of dark area’s throughout the body but I decided to give it a go and the horn worked perfectly.

Horn after sanding.

Horn after sanding.

Horn before staining.  It looks great just like it is.

Horn just about done, ready for staining. Sometimes I think about not staining a horn because at times they look so good in the white.

This powderhorn is titled, “Cheyenne Ledger Book Horn”.  It depicts a horn made by either a Cheyenne warrior or a trapper of the period who camped around Bent’s Fort or worked at the fort in South-Eastern Colorado around 1837.

CHEYENE LEDGER BOOK HORN by Kevin Hart Done and ready for shining times Top View

CHEYENNE LEDGER BOOK HORN by Kevin Hart
Done and ready for shining times Top View

The Scrimshaw art on it reflects the style found in many period Cheyenne ledger books.

Inside curve of the finished Horn by Kevin Hart

Inside curve of the finished Horn by Kevin Hart

Left side view. This Cheyenne Indian is celebrating another horse stealing raid as a seasoned warrior as depicted by the length of his head dress.

Left side view.
This Cheyenne Indian is celebrating another horse stealing raid as a seasoned warrior as depicted by the length of his head-dress.

I have a great fondness for Ledger Book Art.  Bent’s Fort was a fur trading post on the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail where traders, trappers, travelers, and the Cheyenne & Arapaho tribes came together in peaceful terms for trade. A wonderful place to see and explore.

Verse found on horns of the F & I, and Revolutionary war periods.  I took artistic license and used it on a 1837 horn. "Importance of dry powder still applied. Yes, it is so."

Verse found on horns of the F & I, and Revolutionary war periods. I took artistic license and used it on a 1837 horn.
“Importance of dry powder still applied.
Yes, it is so.”

This horn is about 16” long from tip to the back finial.

It features an aged medium yellow body, black throat & high distressed black turned pine base plug.

Banner cartouche showing where horn was made/year and room for owner’s name

Banner cartouche showing where horn was made/year and room for owner’s name

Scene shows Bent’s Fort as it looked from 1833 into the early 1840s.  Many tribes set up their lodges around the fort during trading season .

Also shown is an Indian on a Buffalo hunt, where they would run the Buffalo and bring their horse dangerously close to the animal they were hunting.

My Maker’s mark, where it usually sits these days on the back/bottom of the horn.

Bent’s Fort. Indian on a Buffalo hunt,  My Maker’s mark, where it usually sits these days on the back/bottom of the horn.

Bent’s Fort. Indian on a Buffalo hunt,
My Maker’s mark, where it usually sits these days on the back/bottom of the horn.

The finial is a turned antler horn that’s been highly aged, and the tip is also turned antler horn that I’ve stained and aged as well.

Detail look at the aged antler horn spout & tip.

Detail look at the aged antler horn spout & tip.

The base plug is held in place with brass pins/tacks that have also been aged and the tip is held in place using small thin pins.

Detail look at the aged butt plug and antler horn finial.

Detail look at the aged base plug and antler horn finial.

It features a high degree of engrailing design and scrimshawed art.

The horn can be worn either left or right, but is truly a left side horn.

For more information on this horn an others, contact Kevin Hart, harts.athome@frontier.com

WCHF 2013 Report

May 31, 2013

WEST COAST HORN FAIR Little Rock Washington, April 26 27 28 2013

The West Coast Horn Fair for 2013 was held at the Capitol City Rifle and Pistol Club in Little Rock, Washington, just south of Olympia.  We were eager to learn more about horn work, display our horn items that we made, gather supplies for future projects, and to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow craftsmen.

Many of the Participants for the WCHF 2013

Many of the Participants for the WCHF 2013

On Friday, April 26th, we attended a great class on horn engraving.  Some

people brought current engraving projects and worked on them during the class.

Kieth Beard and Chip Kormas working on their scrimshaw projects.

Kieth Beard and Chip Kormas working on their scrimshaw projects.

Steve Vance Scrimshaw Artist

Steve Vance Scrimshaw Artist

Scrimshw Tools brought by Steve Vance

Scrimshw Tools brought by Steve Vance

Harold Moore was honored this year for his contribution to horn making.  He was a pioneer horn maker from the 1970’s . Many of his customers brought in their “Harold Moore” horn to add to his display table.

Harold Moore Pioneer Horn Maker

Harold Moore Pioneer Horn Maker

A discussion on shop safety and horn selection was led by John Shorb. After a talk about horn design and the Golden Mean by Scott Morrison, the participants gathered around the equipment to watch the horns take shape.

John Shorb Teaching one of the many classes.

John Shorb Teaching one of the many classes.

On Saturday, the real fun began.  Our classes expanded by offering live demonstrations of horn building.  Three competent Horners, Glen Sutt, Steve Skillman and Scott Morrison, volunteered to build three powder horns which would later be auctioned.

Glen Sutt making a horn in one day to be auctioned off that evening.

Glen Sutt making a horn in one day to be auctioned off that evening.

Scott Morrison showing Jim Smith and Don Nissen the finer points of horn making.

Scott Morrison showing Jim Smith and Don Nissen the finer points of horn making.

Steve Skillman working on his horn for Saturday.

Steve Skillman working on his horn for Saturday.

All three craftsmen had to hustle to finish their projects by dinnertime on Saturday.  Six meals were included in  the $55.00 registration fee,  Dinner on Friday was provided by Glen Sutt.  Our banquet on Saturday was  prepared by Jim and Laura Smith.  Breakfast  and lunch were prepared by Bo Brown and Don Kerr.  A big thank you to all the people who helped with the food and all the things that had to happen to put on this event.

After the banquet, we had an auction and two different raffles. The main raffle was for everyone who bought a ticket.  Online and mail in ticket sales were brisk. Once we saw the prizes in person, we bought even more tickets. Some prizes were made just for the Horn Fair and others would have been hard to ship. Those items were raffled separately to the Saturday night attendees. We want to thank everyone who donated a raffle prize for this event.  The selection and quality of the prizes were fantastic. We do appreciate the generosity of everyone involved.  Without the raffle prizes, there would be no horn fair.

It is time for the raffle and the auction!

It is time for the raffle and the auction!

The raffle prizes and the winners will be posted in a different area.

HORN COMPETITION

And then there was the horn competition.  The table was full of submissions that challenged the judges’ ability to pick out winners.   Steve Vance took first place in the “Engraved Powder Horn” section, but it wasn’t an easy victory.  Harold Moore won “non-engraved powder horn “and Dave Rase won the “horn item” category.  Glen Sutt won the People’s Choice award with his banded powder horn. Good job to all who entered.

Engraved Powder Horn 1-Steve Vance 2-Henry Frank (Crawdad) 3- Chip Kormas

Engraved Powder Horn Competition. 1st 2nd 3rd

Engraved Powder Horn Competition. 1st 2nd 3rd

Engraved Horn Contest Winners Steve Vance, Henry Frank (Crawdad), Chip Kormas

Engraved Horn Contest Winners
Steve Vance, Henry Frank (Crawdad), Chip Kormas

Non-engraved Powder Horn 1-David Rase 2-Harold Moore 3- Richard Downs

Non Engraved Powder Horn Competition. 1st 2nd 3rd

Non Engraved Powder Horn Competition. 1st 2nd 3rd

Non-engraved Powder Horn 2-Harold Moore 1-David Rase  3- Richard Downs

Non-engraved Powder Horn 2-Harold Moore 1-David Rase 3- Richard Downs

Horn Object Blowing Horn, Spoon and Fork, Salt Horn

Non Horn Competition. 1st 2nd 3rd

Non Horn Competition. 1st 2nd 3rd

1-   Dave Rase 2-  Glenn Sutt 3-   Richard Downs

Non Powder Horn competition Dave Rase , Glenn Sutt, Richard Downs

Non Powder Horn competition
Dave Rase , Glenn Sutt, Richard Downs

People Choice  1-   Glenn Sutt

Glenn Sutt and People's Choice Award

Glenn Sutt and People’s Choice Award

People's Choice Award for best Horn item

People’s Choice Award for best Horn item

On Sunday, there were  three more classes: one by Scott Morrison who talked about installing leather ends on woven horn straps, Steve Vance discussed horn coloration and Jim Hayden talked on books available on horn work.

I will post another article on the Raffle and the Auction.  More pictures coming.

The Capitol City Rifle and Pistol Club is a good venue for this event.  The West Coast Horn Fair for 2014 will be held there next May. We will build on the success of this event with better classes, demonstrations, hands on mentoring and another outstanding raffle.

Scott and Cathy Sibley Featured Artists

May 29, 2013

Scott and Cathy are featured on the Contemporary Makers Blog by Art and Jan Riser.

They were also featured on my email and on my website.

Scott Sibley at his ranch

Scott Sibley at his ranch

Scott writes for the website Kentucky Longrifles:

I had a great interest in History as a youngster. Living on a dairy farm there was the occasional de-horning of cows and bulls. This gave me a few small horns in with to make BB horns and Pellet horns. I carved myself a flintlock rifle out of a pine board and spent many hours entertaining myself with that and a horn to go with it.

Cathy Sibley

Cathy Sibley

In 1969 I met Cathy, we graduated from high school.  In 1971 we married and I joined the service. While in the service I got my hands on a Green River Rifle Works Leman kit. I assembled it and I needed a horn. A trip to a slaughter house in Boise Idaho provided me with several. I made the horn and one day was scratching on it when Cathy said, “that looks like fun” I handed her a horn and said “sand it down and try it” From that day on my partner became my horn engraver. We fooled and fiddled with a few horns and in 1976. We discovered Rendezvous  We went to one and were told “You kids should make those things and sell them” We were on our way.

Early 1998  horn by Scott and Kathy Sibley

Early 1998 horn by Scott and Kathy Sibley

Horns and scrimshawed Jewelry, as well as my hunting skills, put food on the table and helped pay the bills during my 5 years of college. Upon graduation I had a job in a long away, remote Eskimo village on the west coast of Alaska. My partner and I prepared for our departure to the Last frontier. In our “stuff”, there was my limited supply of tools and a box of horns.

Scott Sibley at his work table

Scott Sibley at his work table in Wyoming

“Strange things are done in the Midnight sun” Cathy and I wanted no part of that and so we stayed at home. I worked on horns and Cathy decorated them for me. We sent completed horns to a friend in Kentucky who was heavily involved in muzzleloading and he found new homes for them.

Kathy Sibley at her work table

Kathy Sibley at her work table in Wyoming

Life in an Eskimo village was unlike anything either of us had experienced. It brought us face to face into the pages of “National Geographics LIVE” We adapted and thrived. Living in our semi truck trailer stacked on 55 gallon oil barrels we made horns, carved fossilized Ivory and I found a new hobby, Selling furs to the Eskimos. I became “The White Whale fur man” “Ithpuk Gusiak”  While walking down the frozen tundra one day I had a revelation, Here in 1979, I was living as close as I could to the 18th century without leaving the country for Asia or Africa.. After that living there, surviving and prospering became a badge of honor for both of us.

Nathan Perry (ancestor) and his discharge papers. Auctioned at the CLA Show 2012

Nathan Perry (ancestor) and his discharge papers. Auctioned at the CLA Show 2012

We stayed for 10 years, leaving in the summers to briefly attend a rendezvous along the way to visit our families in Michigan. All this time our interested in history never ceased and I got into genealogy  I discovered my Great Grand father had been at Gettysburg on Little Round Top and was wounded. I found his Grand Father, Nathan Perry, had served for 8 years in the Continental Army. I found that just under 100 Sibley men had fought for freedom and Liberty during the American Revolution. My horn making took on new dimensions and a new meaning to me. With every one I was making a “tribute” to those who served. To me ,being a DAV, this is especially meaningful.

Wyoming sunset

Wyoming sunset

After the Civil War, my great grandfather didn’t go home, he sat off on a journey of the American West that went on till he died in 1915. His son and his ex wife had went on their separate ways several years earlier. “The old Captain was a hard and bitter man” My Great Grand Mother died, and then my grandfather died in 1917. The only 2 boys to be heirs to this history became step children with no idea of their real family name. I am glad to have dug it up and in finding my Grand fathers grave in central Wyoming I myself have found a home.

I look at my horn making and can rationalize that I am involved in it for a reason.

For the 2013 West Coast Horn Fair, Scott donated an “antiqued” Southern Banded Horn.

Southern Banded Horn by Scott Sibley

Southern Banded Horn by Scott Sibley

Scott and Cathy are the authors of two Best Sellers. The were one of the first to publish a book on building powder horns. Their second book is Building The Southern Banded Horn.

Building the Southern Banded Horn

Building the Southern Banded Horn

Recreating the 18th Century Powder Horn

Recreating the 18th Century Powder Horn

Sow’s Ear to be Auctioned at the 2013 WCHF in Washington

March 27, 2013

It all started at the West Coast Horn Fair last year in Morro Bay, California, Scott Morrison was given the challenge of starting with a bad cow horn (Sow’s Ear) and turning it into a “Silk Purse”.

Finished Banded Horn by Scott Morrison

Finished Banded Horn by Scott Morrison

John (Bigsmoke) Shorb gave a talk on “choosing your horn”. He had several examples of horns with defects that would lend a person to pass when choosing. One example that he recommended passing up was a thin, translucent, misshapened horn that had a severe delamination at the tip.

Scott Morrison recalls, “I was sitting in the back of the room with Steve Skillman in “Heckler’s” row and I just couldn’t let this go by. I told John something to the effect that this was nonsense and that there was a lot that one cold do with the horn. John came right back and said that when the horn came to me (it was being passed around the room) to go ahead and keep it. The gauntlet had been taken off and the challenge issued;  John was pretty much telling me to put up or shut up.”

“Well now honor was at stake and I could not back down. So I took up the challenge and not only would I take this “Sow’s Ear” and make some sort of “Silk Purse” with it, but it would come back to the West Coast Horn Fair in 2013 to be  auctioned off.”

“The horn sat in my to do box until recently when I decided that I needed to “get-r-done”. When I got back from the WCHF last year, all I had done with it was to cut off the tip and drill the spout. I had originally thought that the horn would be good for a Southern banded horn with an applied tip and when I cut and drilled it, I saw that there was plenty of material for such a horn.”

The de-lamination in this tip was sanded off.

The de-lamination in this tip was sanded off.

“As you can see in the photo, there is approximately 1/2 inch at the tip, which would be plenty for an applied tip or even threaded for a screw tip. The discoloration at the tip is where the internal separation of the horn layers occurred. I decided on a horn with an applied antler tip.”

“I had turned a base plug and fitted a rear ring to the horn and when I did a trial fit of an antler tip the horn looked too long to my eye. I ended up taking about 3/4 inch more off of the tip which improved the proportion. There was still plenty of material at the tip so I had no problem fitting the antler.”

Applied Tip made from antler repair the defective tip.

Applied Tip made from antler repair the defective tip. 

“Of greater concern to me wasn’t the tip but the thinness of the horn. When the horn was cleaned and polished, there was left humps and hollows from the sander that was used. One side of the horn was also pretty flat. Normally, there is enough wall thickness on a horn that I can work it to some semblance of round. However, since this horn was to thin, I was afraid that if I tried to round it I might break through the wall. The best I could hope for was to remove the humps and hollows and have a smooth body. The flat spot would have to remain.”

Scott Morrison Horn before staining.

Scott Morrison Horn before staining.

“I first thought of having just one band on the horn, but decided that this would be too uninteresting so I went with three bands. I heated the bands so they were pliable and they slipped around the oblong shape of the body easily, leaving no gaps. The base plug is walnut. The button finial is turned horn and tapered to slip fit into the base.”

Banded horn By Scott Morrison

Banded horn By Scott Morrison

Two of the Three bands

Two of the Three bands. Scott says the flat spot is in the picture.

“I heated the bands so they were pliable and they slipped around the oblong shape of the body easily, leaving no gaps.”

Base Plug with WCHF for West Coast Horn Fair.

Base Plug with WCHF for West Coast Horn Fair.

“The base plug is walnut. The button finial is turned horn and tapered to slip fit into the base.”

Stained with aqua fortis, then added a patina

Stained with aqua fortis, then added a patina

“The horn was stained with aqua fortis, then a patina applied with a combination of shoe polish and black powdered tempura paint.”

The horn is translucent and light as a feather.

The horn is translucent and light as a feather.

“It measures 15 inches along the outside curve and 2 1/4 inches across at the base. The horn is nice and translucent and light as a feather.”

“I think it is an acceptable “Silk Purse” made from the “Sow’s Ear” that was the original horn.”

The Lady Washington and The Hawaian Chieftan

February 20, 2013

Over President’s Weekend these two tall ships were in port here in Morro Bay. On Saturday, Sunday and Monday, they were giving 3 hour “Battle Cruises”. Well, that had to be something to be experienced, so Mrs. Smoke and I went online, got our tickets, and Monday afternoon, there we were, anxiously awaiting permission to board. Finally, about 10 till 2 we were allowed on board and a little after two, we set out. Going out of the harbor, it was all diesel power, but once we got into deep water, the deck hands got to really show off. Man, those guys hit the rigging like a bunch of monkeys. I would imagine a prerequisite for the job is no fear of heights.

Crew going up to set the sails to come down!

Crew going up to set the sails!

Finally, with the sails all set and the diesel turned off, we commenced the battle. Now, there is only one gunner’s mate, so the rate of fire is pretty slow. He only has two 3 pounder cannons on the main deck (one port and one starboard) and two swivel guns on the quarter deck. No long thundering barrages like in the movies.

Anyway, here is the swivel gun letting loose with a 700 grain charge.

John was the only one on the ship to catch the muzzle flash of the 3 pounder cannon.

John was the only one on the ship to catch the muzzle flash of the swivel gun.

A little later in the day, I got this photo of the Chieftain taking a shot at us. I just missed the muzzle flash on this one. From what I could figure out, they are using about 1,200 grains in the 3 pounders to make it go boom.

Cannon fire for the Hawaiian Chiefton

Cannon fire from the Hawaiian Chieftain

This was a very interesting way to spend an afternoon. I will probably be back on board next year.

John