Custom Handmade Powder Horn Fine Silver Decoration Hardware Curly Mulberry Wood Cow Scrimshaw

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 10-10-2012 02:00 PM 5993 views 3 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Powder Horn with Fine Silver Decoration:
Horn Size: 14.25” end to end along curve
Twist: Right Hand
Hardware: Fine Silver
Wood Butt End: Curly Mulberry
Tip Plug: Cow Horn Tip with Fine Silver Rain Shield
Display Stand: Black finished Pine & Dark Patina Brass

This Powder Horn is FOR SALE in my Store

More INFO?:
I have blogged and posted about powder horns and scrimshaw for several years, so if you’d like to read more start by clicking here and it’ll take you to some other places about this subject that I’ve written and work that I’ve done in the past.

Here is another Blog on Powder Horn Building


Project Story:
Tying some ends together…...

I was little boy, maybe about 8 years old when I bought my first Powder Horn. It was a simple thing, built quickly and sold in the gift shop of “Cow Town”, a historical village in Wichita, KS. Our school class went there on a field trip, and while the other kids “wasted” their parent’s money on candy, I came home with a powder horn. I used that first horn to carry my Daisy BB’s for my Daisy Special Edition Buffalo Bill BB Gun (quite a valuable little thing today), which I still have. And, I still have that first powder horn, it hangs on the wall in my little wood shop.

I was also a little boy about 10 years old when I would go stay with my grandparents on their Farm for several days at a time and “help” my granddad with the farming and ranching operation. I just loved hanging out with him, he would talk and tell me stories, teach me all sorts of things, point out the deer and pheasants when he saw them, driving around the countryside doing chores. I loved him so much, it makes me cry just thinking about those care free days in the early 1970’s spending time with my grandparents. My grandmother was a great wife to my granddad, a great cook, loved kids, kept the house, and did crafts. She had a neighbor lady that lived about a mile East of their place that also liked doing crafts, and she painted landscapes on canvas and started doing silver jewelry. One day during lunch, the neighbor lady was over at my grandparent’s house showing off the silver jewelry she had just made. I didn’t know people could make such a thing, and I was memorized with the shiny silver. I set my mind that day that I would learn to make silver jewelry just like her…...

Well, as plans change for kids, I was distracted by other things, grew up, went to college, got a job I hated, quit, got another job I hated, and just settled into life, debts, and the rest of it, maybe you know the story?

But, I never forgot those two early influences, the Powder Horn and the Silver Jewelry.

Many years later I bought my first black powder rifle and needed a powder horn for it. A local friend gave me some cow horns and a couple of books on how to turn them into a powder container, and off I went. I finished my first horn and went to a competition shoot the next morning. I took 2nd in the Shoot, and everyone saw my new powder horn. They all encouraged me with offers for trade goods for powder horns, and so I went home and started making more. I learned more and more with practice, and started to build up the hand strength to do the scrimshaw artwork, and my work improved a little over time. So, I’ve been making Powder Horns ever since.

Back a few years ago, I ran onto another silversmith, who told me they learned how do it at afternoon classes down in Wichita at the City Arts building. It’s a City Government function, and the classes are great and not all that expensive. The hard part for me is driving the 90 miles down there, and taking one day per week for 10 weeks to do it. But I did sign up for the class, despite my wife’s complaints and her waving the stack of Bills to be paid at me. She got the first silver ring, my mom got the second silver ring, and I’m glad to have learned to manipulate silver and solder it together, at least well enough to accomplish what I want to do at this point in my learning.

So, during the City Arts Silversmithing class, I had to make the common bezel/hoop ring, and a couple more required projects, and then they turned me loose to do what I wanted. So, brought down to Wichita this raw cow horn, and asked the teacher to show me how to complete my vision for it. I had a lot of fun learning, but I never finished the horn at that time.

So a few years passes, and the John Campbell Folk School asks me to come and teach a week long class on Powder Horn making and Scrimshaw decoration. That was the motivation to get back to work and finish my Powder Horn with Silver work, so that I could show it to the students in the class. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun, and I’m happy it is finished now.

So, when you are a kid, and you are inspired by the crafts people and things they make… just never know where that will lead you. This is specifically the reason that I stop my schedule and encourage and teach kids things they want to know about. Maybe they can’t “buy” an item they see of mine in a store, but I can motivate them to take their own journey into craft work someday, and I take that task eagerly and very seriously.

Thanks for reading along,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

8 comments so far

View IndianJoe's profile


425 posts in 3411 days

#1 posted 10-10-2012 02:49 PM

Vary nice work I do all kinds of old art but silver is one thing I never have tryed to work with my be someday I* will try T talked to one man along time a go and he showed me some of what you got to do so I know it’s alot of work what you have made is a true piece of art something that some one will love and pass on in there family thats if you let it go it is one of a kind I would be thanking of keeping it my family if I was you.
take care till next time
Love your story

-- Nimkee** Joe

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5567 days

#2 posted 10-10-2012 03:32 PM

Thanks IndianJoe for the kind words and advice. I would like to keep it, but one kid has braces on her teeth now, the other needs shoes again, the wife wants her bedroom project completed, the vehicles are both worn out… never ends.

Several years ago I had to come to the conclusion that if I wanted to do the craft work full time, I was going to have to let the things go to support my habit, since I don’t play the Lottery. Shortly after that, I started to really get enjoyment out of letting others have the things, knowing that they enjoy having it as much as I did, and they share the story, and I get their money to pay bills so that I can continue creating other things.

Many years ago someone gave me the advice that I needed to keep something back every year for a “savings” account for my kids, or retirement. That really sounded like great advice, but the constant drone of attacking bills has made me sell nearly everything I’ve made over the past 15 years. I do have my High School woodworking projects in my house, but there’s not much else.

A gallery owner once told me that the problem with most craft artists is that they are not prolific enough, doing a few pieces as a hobby, but not enough to really start a collecting group like what a guy needs to really have a long term crafts business. He said that the constant problem he has with selling an artist’s work, was the lack of any product to sell. So, since then, I’ve tried to put my name on everything and be as prolific as I can be, with the hope that it would make a difference some day…....being old didn’t sound so close 15 years ago when I started though. Ha.

thanks for your comment,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 4095 days

#3 posted 10-10-2012 05:47 PM


This is a magnificient piece.
It’s fine art by many standards…

The story is facinating as well.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4464 days

#4 posted 10-10-2012 06:35 PM

what a great read, you almost want to make me cry thinking of you with your grandpa and grandma, those days your speaking of were the greatest fr me, just with different memories…but great times, i dont think to many kids today get to have that kind of thing, but i hope some still do, your silver work is very beautiful to me, my hand strength wont handle that now, but ill enjoy yours, keep up the great work mark, i hope the best for your business and hope you get that room done soon, if you dont, it will be a home office by the time you finish, and your kids will be gone…LOL…...get it in gear buddy…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Karson's profile


35276 posts in 5562 days

#5 posted 10-10-2012 09:49 PM

Mark: A great looking project. And a great story to go along with it.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 4647 days

#6 posted 10-11-2012 12:56 AM

ditto on the fine art. the market is niche, but given your craftsmanship, and the world at your internet fingertips, they should fetch a considerable price. There are still folks out there that value craftsmanship and willing to pay for quality hand crafted pieces. I know this is not the subject of your blog, but really, that is beautiful work, not seen every day. There is probably a bigger market for silver inlaid horn, bone, and wood, and you definitely have the skill set to produce some amazing work. Your story really touched me. Except for my meager skill sets, your childhood and path in life sounds very familiar to me.

Edit – I just saw your etsy site, so this isn’t your first rodeo!

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 3350 days

#7 posted 10-11-2012 03:51 AM

Looks beautifully made !

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Napaman's profile


5535 posts in 5238 days

#8 posted 10-23-2012 04:49 AM

i am a fan…always have been…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

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