"Shiloh Prairie" - Hand Carved Panoramic Scene Featuring an 1874 Shiloh Sharps Rifle

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Project by Eric M. Saperstein posted 07-05-2009 03:01 PM 4815 views 3 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Scanning through this site it seems there’s a good mix of pro’s, hobbyists, and somewhere in between … all are covered quite well. Those who do things as a hobby can take their time, often excessive time – which means some of you “amateurs” produce a level of quality and detail that those in a business may be capable of, but simply can not make a living if they fall pray to the urge to be excessive about their perfectionism.

Another scenario emerges when we have projects for ourselves that are constantly interrupted by those annoying “paying jobs.” I happen to fall into this category, thus, this particular project covers a span of about a decade, plus almost five years waiting for the rifle! Lucky for me (yeah, fun times huh?) things slowed down to a crawl with new projects coming in for the latter part of 2008 into the first two months or so of 2009.

Entitled “Shiloh Prairie” – The title made sense seeing as though there happens to be an 1874 Shiloh Sharp’s 45-70 bench rest match grade target rifle embedded into a panoramic view of a heard of buffalo grazing in the open prairie.

The Sharps rifles gained notoriety in their 1859/1863 models as the preferred skirmish rifle of the USSS (United States Sharpshooters – the Union’s “Green Coats” ... IE snipers) in a form that allowed loading a paper cartridge through the breach. Moving on to the 1874, this became known as the Buffalo Rifle; sadly being responsible for the slaughter of tens of thousands of these majestic creatures. Later – the 50-110 version found fame in the hands of Tom Selleck in the movie “Quiggly Down Under.”

Anyway – I ordered one in college back around 1995 – it arrived with haste in 1999; you just have to wait sometimes for a truly unique work of art be it a rifle, knife, or piece of furniture. I laid out, another composite using Lora S. Irish’s wagon and various buffalo … yada yada yada – about ten years going by … renovated a house, several hundred projects for customers … and here you have it I finally finished the piece earlier this year … last step being apply the name plaque which was 2 months after I finished carving it!

This project shows an example of incorporating entirely unique items into a carving to create an environment in which to display not just an object, but the story behind it. Anyone can hang a rifle or shotgun on the wall – including us of course – but this just seems to have a better delivery. Even a gun collector can walk past a rifle on the wall (well maybe not a Shiloh) but nobody walks past this panel without stopping and asking questions.

The only mistake I made in my marketing plan was revealed last December – we were invited to put a display in the NJ State House for ””Made in NJ Day.” Not that we didn’t have pieces to put on display, but most of our best work is long gone, off with our clients. The only wildlife carvings other than this panel I have in hand are neatly and permanently encapsulated in my bar. I had to ask – and in case any of you are just dying to know if you are allowed to bring a rifle into your state’s capital building to perch yourself outside the governor’s door … the answer is “No.”

More on Made in NJ Day ... check out our First qtr newsletter from 2009.

One of these days I have to get in touch with Tom Selleck and see if he’d like one – I just have to pull it off in just a little less time!

For the full article (story) of this project and more detailed images:

Don’t forget to stop by Lora S. Irish’s site: Yes I pitch this site a lot, no there’s no kickback … she’s a fantastic artist and to be honest I can’t draw to save my own a$$ beyond a few trees and some landscape so without her projects like this just wouldn’t happen! Lora described this very well one day, in my own words from this conversation she described how she enjoys providing the means for carvers to create their art, and loves to hear when someone like me bases a project like this with her work. Even if you can draw – her efforts will save you a ton of time!

The carving is on basswood – about 6/4” thick – with a walnut frame in 12/4 … the frame has a rope carving around the full perimeter. Corner blocks seemed logical – well – they made it easier and carving a huge rope into end grain is just a pain; so I creatively covered them up instead. Paints are acrylics with a Waterlox tung oil finish.

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

10 comments so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5367 days

#1 posted 07-05-2009 03:09 PM

Nice presentation! I’ll add this to my favorites.

View bowyer's profile


340 posts in 4449 days

#2 posted 07-05-2009 03:27 PM

Looks like the wait was worth it. The finished project looks great.


-- If at first you don't succeed...Don't try skydiving

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5300 days

#3 posted 07-05-2009 04:32 PM

Very cool work. Love the panarama.

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

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4630 days

#4 posted 07-06-2009 01:08 AM

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


20631 posts in 4729 days

#5 posted 07-06-2009 01:57 AM

Nice display for a Sharps. Have you shot it?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View studiousmatt's profile


43 posts in 4403 days

#6 posted 07-06-2009 02:52 AM

I can not think of a nicer way to display such a fine rifle. any luck with it in the range? If I get a sharps, I will display it like this. stunning.

View ND2ELK's profile


13494 posts in 4827 days

#7 posted 07-06-2009 09:37 AM

One piece complements the other. Beautiful gun and display. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Eric M. Saperstein's profile

Eric M. Saperstein

766 posts in 4301 days

#8 posted 07-06-2009 10:35 AM

Thanks for the feedback!

We brought the rifle out to the range once so far, planning on taking it out for another run this summer. Only got to shoot at 100 yards with it so far. Curious what it can do at a distance. The weight absorbs a lot of the shock of the round. I picked up second set of sites I have to have mounted, I just went with the rear peep site which was a mistake, at close range I really can’t alight that well, it needs a traditional iron site on the barrel.

Once I get that set I may try a resting boar hunt with it one day. If I ever have the wall space to mount it, I’d consider going for a buffalo just given the history of the rife. At this point, we have nowhere in the house for the mount and I wouldn’t want it to go to waste. Also coming home with 800lbs of meat on top of freezers already full of venison and boar – would be a waste. Someday!

One of my next personal projects is to design and build/carve a display frame for the piece featured in the link above. I would love to do a hunt scene with a female archer, just not sure it won’t either look like a cartoon or if I can capture the young female form properly in a carving. Another challenge to overcome!

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


20631 posts in 4729 days

#9 posted 07-06-2009 09:09 PM

What caliber? 45-70?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Eric M. Saperstein's profile

Eric M. Saperstein

766 posts in 4301 days

#10 posted 07-06-2009 09:13 PM

Yes – this one is 45-70

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

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