Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Range Reviews: Recreating the 18th Century Powder Horn

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

The Range Reviews

After watching me struggle, cuss, and hack my way through two powder horn projects, niether of which is really complete, and fill up my little corner of the living room with sawdust and horn detritus, my wife went and ordered  Recreating the 18th Century Powder Horn by Scott and Cathy Sibley.

I am eagerly anticipating going home next year and reading my new gift! In the mean time, I have to ensconse myself at my desk here in Afghanistan, and be satisfied to look at scans my wife has been sending me.

I was immediately taken by the clear photos and detailed instructions that made it easy to understand what and how to do any number different steps in the creation of an art quality powder horn. And not just one type mind you, but several different types.

The authors, Scott and Cathy Sibley are well known powder horn makers and scrimshaw artists. I Googled them up and found a variety of references to their work, especially at Contemporary Makers. Contemporary Makers is a blog that covers the contemporary artists in period gun work, including accouterments; well worth the visit!

Scott is both a retired soldier, and a retired teacher. Cathy is retired school administrator. They got started making powder horns and quill-work while teaching school in the outer most reaches of Alaska.

I have been diligently working on a powderhorn for one of my friends, and I am very anxious to complete it on my next R&R. I have already picked up quite a few hints and new ideas from the excellent explanations in the book. The clear and well posed pictures make it easy to understand, and the Sibley's skill is obvious. The photography deseves a mention of its own; the quality and clarity is superb!

The book is divided into 21 chapters. It starts off in logical fashion with "Tools and Materials," followed by "Selecting a Horn." Thereafter it explains how you should set up your work area, (Believe me, nothing like mine!) and then starts from the begining in a logical and step by step horn making manner. The photography complements the descriptions very well, and options are presented for different time periods or styles

 Just to be clear, I don't work in any recognized style, period, or era. Shoot, until I started reading about 17th and 18th century blackpowder stuff, I didn't even realize there were different eras! Now I know better...

The scrimshawing section of the book is very well illustrated and explained. My next attempt at scratching away on a powder horn should be more successful than not! Selecting the proper tools for your project and clear, step-by-step directions are given. Something I appreciated was the scrimshaw patterns at the back of the book. It gives you some idea of where you might want to go with your scrimshaw.

The last two chapters have examples of original horns, followed by horns made by Contemporary Makers. It is an excellent reference to guide you to those styles and eras I mentioned earlier!

I have found powder horn making to be a rewarding combination of crafts. Not only are you working with horn, but you will pick out and work with wood, and possibly do some metal shaping should the mood strike you, to complete your horn.There are techniques discussed for using dyes or stains, many types of carving are covered, along with filing and shaping tools. The end result of the mess you are going to make, is a beautiful powder horn for your collection that will merit both artistic and practical praise.

For those of you looking for an entertaining and productive pasttime, maybe an activity to take your mind off of something, working with your hands to make a powder horn will be very rewarding. You will find  Recreating the 18th Century Powder Horn is an incredible reference for the budding horn maker. I would recommend it without reservation!

Recreating the 18th Century Powder Horn

Softcover, $19.95

91 pages, 11" x 8-1/2"

ISBN 0-9765797-0-7

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

Albert Rasch,HunterThough he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com.


Anonymous said...

Albert this is a good post and that sure sounds like a good book to have.
I sure look forward to that one you started for me before you had to leave. It was looking goo by the pictures you had sent.

Take care my friend,

Whitetail Woods Blog / Deer Hunting and Blackpowder Shooting at it’s best.

Albert A Rasch said...


I am looking forward to getting back and finishing it up. I have gotten together with a bunch of Horn Makers at The Horner's Bench. I'm learning a lot, and I think you'll be pleasently surprised when I finally send you that powder horn!

The book is really awesome, and I have ordered several other books on 17th to 18th century gun crafts, I'll be sure to share with everyone as they arive!

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch™
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles: Afghanistan, Permaculture, and Beekeeping

Nebraska Hunting Company said...


I'm looking forward to seeing your work, I'm certain it will be incredible to see!

With respect,
Scott Croner and
Nebraska Hunting Company™