Horn and Bone
We make use of a variety of natural materials to bring you our extensive collection of items and Historical Reproductions. Our raw supplies are sourced ethically from renewable resources, often recycling a ’waste’ product from the meat industry and as a result preventing it from ending up in landfill. The majority of our finished products are biodegradable and/or recyclable, making a truly ecological product.
Our domestic cattle, here in the UK, have been selectively bred so they no longer grow horns, this has been done to prevent the cattle from harming one another and consequently damaging the product they are reared for e.g. hide or meat.
We therefore use horn from Ankole Cattle sourced as a by-product of the meat industry in Nigeria. With more space to roam their horns are left to grow, producing the very large, distinctive horns with both great length and circumference that are ideal for use in horn working.
Horns are the pointed projections, from the forehead of animals such as bison, sheep, goats and cattle, they start to grow soon after birth and continue to grow throughout the life of the animal. Unlike members of the deer family both the male and the female have horns.
Horn consists of two distinct parts: a short inner core of living bone and an outer covering of horn. This outer covering is made of keratin (the same material as our nails and hair) and is more or less hollow except for the very tip.
Cow horn has thermoplastic properties, which means it can be softened and made malleable by heating. It can then be bent, shaped and moulded into various contours to create the wonderful horn products in our range. Un-worked cattle horn has a rough dull surface, however after sanding and polishing the horn takes on a smooth glossy appearance, it is only at this stage that it’s true colours appear. While cattle horn can be nearly any colour, it is generally a light creamy colour, sometimes streaked with white, brown or black patches; take a look at a few of our images to see the range of colours that can be found.
NB. No two pieces will ever be the same and the colours you receive will vary from those pictured.
We use the shinbone of domestic cattle sourced as a by-product of the Chinese meat industry. The bone is already cleaned, bleached and processed before we purchase it.
Bones are the rigid organs that form part of the skeleton of all vertebrates and are composed mainly of Calcium Carbonate. They serve to move, support, and protect the various organs of the body.
Bone is not a uniformly solid material, but has a honeycombed internal structure, this gives it it’s rigidity making it lightweight, yet strong and hard. The hard outer layer of the bone is composed of compact bone tissue, also referred to as dense bone, so-called due to its minimal gaps and spaces. Only the very densest shinbone is used which has the thickest hard outer layer.
Bone looks similar to ivory but it is lighter in weight and usually not as white. A polished bone surface usually has small pits and what appears to be a lightly scratched surface; these are the exposed "tunnels" that permeate the bone.
The soft flowing lines and smooth milky white appearance of a bone spoon is only the start, it is soft and warm to the touch and is more resilient and durable than horn. Over a period of time bone absorbs oils from your skin and changes colour to a very light honey gold.
Water Buffalo horns come mostly from India and Thailand. These horns are from the Asian buffalo, bred for domestic purposes and are widely used because the animal is not a protected species unlike its African counterpart.
Buffalo horn is made up of dense layers of fibres that have a very hard and durable surface, it resembles Cattle Horn greatly in its structure, however the walls are much thicker and more of the tip is solid.
Buffalo horn is nearly always entirely black and quite heavily ridged along the inner side curve; it is flatter and far more rectangular than cow horn. When given a high polish buffalo horn develops an extremely hard surface and has to be one of the toughest natural materials.
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We make use of a variety of natural materials to bring you our extensive collection of items. Our raw supplies are sourced ethically from renewable resources, often recycling a ’waste’ product from the meat industry and as a result preventing it from ending up in landfill. The majority of our finished products are biodegradable and/or recyclable, making a truly ecological product.