Tortoise Shell Blanks

Discussion in 'Brush Making and Restorations' started by bobfarvour, Jul 13, 2012.

  1. Does anyone know where to get Tortoise Shell turning blanks big enough to make brush handles ?

    I've found one place in Europe. I'd like to find a stateside location though. I don't even know if the European place will ship to USA yet.
  2. Real tortoise blanks Bob? Or acrylic? I have a brush that was made by plisson that looks like tortoise shell but I didn't figure you could get a blank big enough to turn a handle out of out of a shell.
  3. Snargle

    Snargle Contributor

    Hopefully you're talking a synthetic tortoise shell look-alike product. Real tortoise shell is a big no-no. I wouldn't even touch so-called antique or vintage tortoise shell unless it had a very complete history and came from a reliable, trustworthy seller. Most sea turtles are critically endangered and protected under international treaties prohibiting trading in products made from them.
  4. Larry I think the tortoise wheels are the giant land tortoises not sea turtles. But I would assume both are highly protected though.
  5. I keep wondering about that. Down here in New Orleans you can get a bowl of turtle soup at any restaurant. What do they do with all those empty shells?

    Perhaps he is looking for "Mock" Turtle Shell turning blanks after all.
  6. Yes, I think Bob is referring to faux tortoise shell.
  7. Snargle

    Snargle Contributor

  8. Huh didn't know that thanks for the info Larry.
  9. So does this mean real tortoise can't be had? Or is it like ivory, available, just costly?
  10. Snargle

    Snargle Contributor

    It looks like you can purchase items that were manufactured from tortoise shell before the bans and restrictions, but I'm pretty sure you can't buy new material. There's a lot of old items (combs, hairbrushes, decorative items, etc.) from the 1800s and early 1900s still around, but yes, you're going to pay a premium price. I don't think you could find anything thick enough to use as a shaving brush handle. Tortoise shell is fairly thin. Maybe you could glue sheets together to make a large enough blank, but it'd be expensive as hell and I doubt if it would look very good. Synthetic materials (acrylic, etc.) are the way to go and would probably look better anyway.
  11. Real tortoise shell is expensive and rare, since it can't be harvested any more. Guitar players love real tortoise picks, and just one can cost $50 and up. I don't think real tortoise shell could ever be thick enough for a brush handle. It comes in sheets, not blocks.

  12. Used in the soup then trashed.

    They're too thin for anything you'd make. Maybe a freaklishly large one could get scales cut from it but I'd doubt even that. They're about the size of a very small frozen turkey.

    I don't know about NO, but up here tortoises are bought typically ripped up, cleaned, practically folded back together in a mass that resembles a brick as much as an animal (until thawed and unfolded). We always tossed the whole thing in the water to boil. Fished it out and picked it and returned the meat (turtle meat resembles really ugly-greasy-greyish shredded chicken when cooked like this).
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012

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