Scrimshaw Powder Horn 16; Black Powder Container for Muzzleloading Era Firearms

  • Advertise with us
Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 12-08-2008 03:55 PM 26045 views 5 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This powder horn has been ”SOLD”

To See other Powder Horns that are still FOR SALE visit my Store


UPDATE 5-5-2011:
I have agreed to teach a Powder Horn Building and Scrimshaw Decoration Class at the John Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. The date will be mid-July in 2012, a five day class. We’ll discuss the history, techniques, and build a horn in class with a display stand, and decorate it with your own scrimshaw artwork. So, this class will be a combination of two classes, teaching both parts of historical and contemporary powder horn crafting.

This class size will be small, so if you have interest in this class, contact the school and put your name on a waiting list, as their catalog to the public will be released in early 2012.

Mark DeCou


Click here For more information about how Scrimshaw Artwork is accomplished

click here For more information about how a Powder Horn is constructed

for more information about purchasing this powder horn email me at:
[email protected]

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

Photo 1a:

Project Story:

This is a powder horn that I built a few years ago and used it as my show/teaching demonstration piece for gathering commissions. I’ve decided to retire it and offer it for sale. If you are interested, let me know.

Historically, a powder horn was commonly used to carry black powder for using in a muzzle loading firearm before cartridge ammunition was invented.

I have several muzzle loading guns, and enjoy shooting black powder. Powder horns were used (are) to carry the powder. This requires that the horn be sealed air-tight, and able to be carried with a strap slung over the shoulder.
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

Bear Side Photos

Photo 1b:

Photo 1c:

Photo 1d

Photo 1e

M. DeCou Signature and Date shown on the front
Photo 1f

Photo 1g

Photo 1h

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

Mapside Photos

Photo 2a

Photo 2b

Photo 2c

Photo 2d

Photo 2e

I started building powder horns about 10 years ago, and have built several of them over the years. They start out as a Bovine Horn, that has been cut off of for de-horning, or at the processing plant. These horns are then dried out to remove the inner core, and then boiled to clean the hair, blood, and dirt. The outer layers of the horn are then removed with either sandpaper, or with a scraping action by a knife, or a broken glass shard.

A wooden plug is constructed and fit to the rear of the horn, to seal the end. Small dowels are inserted around the edge to hold the wood in place. Sealant is used in the process, either a mix of lard and bees wax, 2-part epoxy glue, or PVA wood glue.

the tip of the horn is drilled out, and small wooden plug is fitted to the tapered hole for sealing the tip. I used an antique Ebony Wood violin key on this horn for the tip plug. I have also turned tips on my lathe, but violin keys are historically accurate for use.

The shaping of the tip of the horn is done with hand files, in this case, I’ve slabbed the tip into an octagonal shape, which matches the shape of the barrel on my rifle that I use when shooting.

Typically, people haven’t used my powder horns for actual shooting in the field, so several years ago I started making display stands for setting on a Mantle, shelf, credenza, or other display area. However, by simply attaching the carrying strap, this powder horn is ready for use.

The Artwork on the Front of this horn is inspired by Proverbs 17:12. “Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly.” Several people have asked me what this verse means. My interpretation is not to get involved with foolish people trying to do foolish things. In that, it would be better to be between a Mother Bear and her Cub, than to get involved in a fool’s schemes. So, I used a drawing of an angry mother bear is chasing two wolves who are chasing the Bear’s cub, with the verse written in text. There is also a “Don’t Tread on Me” engraved banner. The front also has the head of an American Bald Eagle.

The Back of this horn shows a typical “Hunting Map” showing the various areas to find suitable game, fur, and meat. The end band of this horn horn has a flower motif, done in a reversed back blacked style.

This Horn is one of the featured pieces in the “Contemporary Artist Gallery” section of Jim Stevens’ new book called “Scrimshaw Techniques” published by Schiffer Publishing and available in most book stores.

Here are the Jacket Photos of Mr. Stevens’ Book:

Here is a blog about the book I've written

Here is a blog “Lumberjocks’ Review” of the book: “coming soon, please check back”

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

11 comments so far

View mmh's profile


3682 posts in 4731 days

#1 posted 12-08-2008 04:16 PM

Nicely done. How long does it take you to create the horn? Thanks for the information on the techniques. Very helpful.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5415 days

#2 posted 12-08-2008 04:20 PM

Hard to say, this one was in the range of 150-200 hours I would guess.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View dustygirl's profile


862 posts in 4738 days

#3 posted 12-08-2008 04:42 PM

Beautiful workmanship Mark.

-- Dustygirl..Hastings,Ontario.. How much wood can 1 gal chuck if 1 gal can't cut wood?

View scott shangraw's profile

scott shangraw

514 posts in 5078 days

#4 posted 12-08-2008 06:06 PM

Another stunning peice of work from you!!!!

-- Scott NM,

View mtnwild's profile


3717 posts in 4536 days

#5 posted 12-08-2008 06:06 PM

WOW, really admire your work. Beautiful design throughout. Don’t imagine many are doing this type of work any more. Great you are keeping the art alive.

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5324 days

#6 posted 12-08-2008 06:22 PM

Very nice project. The hunting map is an interesting addition. I like the attention to historical accuracy.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5256 days

#7 posted 12-09-2008 12:05 AM

Amazing Mark, and to get it all in a book finally, fantastic. You’re the Man.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 4776 days

#8 posted 12-09-2008 02:50 PM

Beautiful work of art. Thanks for sharing, Mark.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Joel Tille's profile

Joel Tille

213 posts in 5253 days

#9 posted 12-09-2008 05:57 PM

Mark – I wish for Christmas I would get a box that would have some of your talent in it. Thanks for sharing, it is a wonderfully done piece.

-- Joel Tille

View Betsy's profile


3394 posts in 4905 days

#10 posted 12-09-2008 08:48 PM

Another beauty!

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View BigFoot Products Canada's profile

BigFoot Products Canada

711 posts in 4402 days

#11 posted 02-10-2009 05:58 AM

I just bought a Binnocular Microscope so I can attempt some scrimshaw. Do you use the DOT method or scribe it in?
Very nice work.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics