About Fossil, Mammoth, and Walrus Ivory


Oak Leaf, Fossil Walrus Tusk

Fossil Ivories:  The fossil ivories I usually use are either walrus, whale or seal teeth, and sometimes walrus tusk. In the examples pictured here, the leaf to the left is fossil walrus tusk, and the two bottom photos are both walrus teeth. They are between 10,000 and 50,000 years old, and are dug up out of the permafrost in Alaska. They are not fossilized; that process involves millions of years. They are called fossil ivories to differentiate them from ivory that is obtained from animals living in the present day. They have a beautiful range of color from pale cream through golds and browns, into very deep brown, almost black. Rarely, you will see oranges, pinks or greens in the tones of the teeth.



Mother and Child, Fossil Walrus Tooth

Mammoth Ivory:  Mammoth ivory is from tusks found in Alaska that are around 3,000 to about 5,000 years old. It has a cross-hatched grain similar to elephant ivory but tends to be a deeper color than elephant. It tends to be more delicate than the fossil teeth so I don’t have many pieces carved from it. When I do carve it I stabilize it to avoid cracks and chips.


Walrus Ivory:  Walrus Ivory is from tusks that were acquired before the marine mammal protection acts in the early 70s. Certification paperwork is required to authenticate its legality, and we have that on file. Walrus tusk is a pale white, and is what I use for my larger and flatter pieces of work. It has a core that is mottled in appearance, translucent white with opaque white. It is more difficult to carve the core, and details don’t show up as nicely, so I tend to avoid using it when possible.


Otter Ring, Mammoth Tusk


Dragonfly, Walrus Tusk