Creative business: making decorative bone products

* The calculations use the average data for the World 10 000 ₽

Minimum starting capital

from 15 000 ₽

Monthly revenue

500 ₽

Min cost is 1 unit. of goods

A business related to the manufacture of various handicrafts with their subsequent sale attracts attention, first of all, of those people who like to do handhelds, have a lot of time, but at the same time they do not have the opportunity to invest a lot of money in developing their business. Often, such a creative business is seen more as a side job, rather than as a source of stable and high incomes.

However, experience shows that more than 80% of start-up entrepreneurs will soon abandon the idea of ​​making money selling hand-made products, without even having time to recoup their initial, albeit small, but certain initial costs for the purchase of materials, creating their own website, advertising and etc. In most cases, the cause of these failures is a frivolous approach to the organization of such activities. If you want to not just engage in your favorite hobby, but to make a profit, then initially consider this area as a business, not an ordinary hobby. Before ordering materials and proceeding with the manufacture of products, study the supply and demand for handmade products of the kind you are interested in on the Russian market.

Conducting a comprehensive analysis in all areas will be quite difficult. This industry is relatively new to our country. Until recently, it developed spontaneously, and most manufacturers of such goods worked illegally, selling their products via the Internet without registering IPs and paying taxes. Now the situation is gradually changing: more and more masters are opening their own online stores, handing over their products to regular stores and retail chains, and taking orders from corporate clients. When analyzing supply and demand, pay attention, first of all, to the assortment of just such design studios.

The success of your future business depends on what you will produce. As mentioned above, the level of competition in the market for handmade products is very high, however, several prevailing areas can be distinguished in it. These include textile toys, felt products, from baked plastic, flowers and floral arrangements from various materials, souvenir-gift products using decoupage technique or scrapbooking. But among the manufacturers of natural wood products or other similar materials, there is practically no competition. This is explained by the fact that the majority of start-up entrepreneurs (and this business is most popular among women) prefer such types of creativity that do not require a lot of time, special skill, or significant expenses for the purchase of materials and training.

The challenges of the bone business

The bone business has its advantages and disadvantages. Some of the disadvantages were mentioned above: this is the high cost of raw materials, the complexity and painstaking work. But there are other difficulties that you may encounter in the process. If you have enough free time and perseverance, you can learn many types of manual work yourself - with the help of educational literature or specialized websites on the Internet. There is very little freely available detailed material on bone carving (although you can find good publications on this subject in libraries). Yes, and self-study can cost in the end much more expensive due to the high cost of raw materials, on which you have to work out your skills by trial and error.

On the other hand, finding a bone carving master to learn from his experience will also be difficult. Currently, craftsmen for this type of craft are found mainly in the regions of the Far North and the Far East. Another difficulty is the search for the material itself for work. Beginners usually use either substitutes for natural material (for example, billiard balls, which in density and weight resemble a mammoth tusk, cut well and do not melt, unlike other types of artificial bone), or cheap types of bone (for example, moose antlers) requiring pre-treatment. With the search for these materials there will be no problems: billiard balls can be purchased at a specialized store where everything is sold for billiards, and moose horns are often sold on flea markets or on message boards on the Internet.

However, it is worth taking into account the peculiarities of working with horns: this material is more “viscous” than other, more expensive types of bones, and is poorly polished. If desired, you can find other cheap types of bone - for example, the tibia of cattle, which can be purchased in meat pavilions or in butcher shops where carcasses of animals are cut. First, such a bone is boiled to remove meat and veins from it, then it is boiled in soda, washed thoroughly, bleached, washed and dried again.

Where to buy raw materials intended for the manufacture of decorative bone products

Products intended for sale are made from better quality raw materials - mammoth tusk, walrus fangs, whale bones, etc. Some types of products can be additionally decorated with elements of natural wood, precious metal, various stones (amber is most often used), and inlaid from mother of pearl. The cost of materials depends on the type of bone, its condition, the presence of defects (microcracks, chips, warping, delamination). Mammoth tusk is one of the most expensive types of material, and finding it on sale is very difficult. A small piece weighing 170 grams (about 17 cm high, and about 4.5-5 cm in diameter) will cost 1000 rubles, about 7000 rubles will have to be paid for a bone weighing 1.5 kg. Walrus fang also refers to expensive raw materials as a result of a sharp reduction in the number of these animals in the second half of the twentieth century. It can be purchased at a price of 4500-5000 rubles per 1 kg. At such prices, bone can be purchased directly in the places of its extraction - in the northern regions. Such raw materials can also be purchased in Moscow, but prices can be significantly higher.

Walrus and mammoth fangs, walrus and sperm whale teeth have a similar bone structure. It consists of three main layers. The top layer is called enamel, the middle is dentin, and the inside is pulp. Since enamel easily exfoliates during processing of bone and is difficult to grind, it is cut off during cutting. Thus, the most valuable material for creating art products is dentin. Even a bone of one species may differ in density, which depends on the content of calcium layers in it. The more calcium salts, the denser the dentin layers and the more malleable this material is. Nevertheless, there are objective limitations in working with him. Single and multi-figure compositions are usually made from animal bone. The most difficult thing is to give them volume, since such a material has a porous structure and thin brittle walls.

Experts recommend purchasing live raw materials so that you can evaluate its condition. There are a lot of nuances. For example, for the storage of raw materials you need a specially equipped room with a given temperature and a certain level of humidity. The fact is that if storage conditions are not observed, all types of bones and horns begin to collapse and deform. However, fresh bones are also not suitable for work. For example, walrus bone and sperm whale tooth should be dry enough to start processing them. Drying is carried out gradually, naturally, without exposure to cold and hot jets of air, so the entire drying process takes up to two years.

The skeletal bone of marine animals is cheaper than animal bone, since it does not have the same good structure and beautiful color. For carving, it is recommended to use whale ribs and jaws, which are a fairly hard material.

Tools and equipment for the manufacture of bone products

There are a large number of different bone processing techniques, which include three-dimensional carving (sculpting), deep engraving, and relief carving. Depending on the type of material and the processing technique used, various tools and special equipment will be required. Walrus fang engraving, for example, is done using a hand tool. Finding on sale a special tool for carving on bone and horn is unlikely to succeed. In most cases, a wood and metal tool is used for these purposes. The most necessary of them are knives with wide blades, chisels, files. You will also need nippers, pliers, scissors, round-nose pliers, compass for marking, surface gage, joiner and ordinary hammer, etc.

But if you are going to engage in carving professionally, you should order specific tools for such work or make them yourself.

To create an engraving on whale ribs, the quality of which does not allow fine carving, a medical drill, milling cutters and cones will be required. A metal hacksaw is used to cut the bone. Rough surface treatment is carried out with a broom file. For more accurate and delicate work, files are required. Perforated drills are suitable for drilling bones, and vtilniki and a machine tool are suitable for performing openwork carvings. Polish the bone on a cotton or felt circle using a special mastic. To prepare the latter, parts of tooth powder, pork fat and turpentine are mixed. However, you can use ready-made polishing pastes, if you do not want to spend time on the independent preparation of mastic. In addition, for large volumes of production, it is worthwhile to purchase a circular saw with various cutting discs, a peeling machine for performing rough processing of bone blanks, a drilling, grinding, polishing, turning, milling and copying machine. Special equipment is needed to work with the horn (at least a muffle furnace and a press).

The process of manufacturing bone and horn products

The manufacturing process of bone products consists of several stages, the content of which may vary somewhat, depending on the material used. First, the bones and horns must undergo pre-treatment. Excess parts (for example, the base at the horn with a closed channel) are cut off. When using ordinary animal bones, they are first boiled to remove the remains of meat, cartilage, bone fat for 2-3 hours in a solution of soda ash at the rate of 7-12 grams of soda per liter of water. Then the boiled bone is washed in warm and then cold water and dried on a wire rack. As mentioned above, drying should be carried out without exposure to cold or hot jets of air. The optimum air temperature for drying is 18-20 degrees, and the relative humidity is not more than 60%.

The material thus prepared is subsequently sawn, sanded, bleached, glued together and polished if necessary. In order to prevent cracks and other defects from appearing on raw materials, the bone is clamped in a vice, a mark is made at the place of cutting with a trihedral file, and then gently sawed with a trihedral file. In the case of large-scale production, manual labor is maximally replaced by automated or semi-automated. Sawing at such enterprises is carried out using circular saws. In one eight-hour shift, this way you can saw about 70-75 kg of bone.

To achieve a flat surface, remove small scratches and defects from it, the workpiece, and then the finished product, is ground - manually and using a special grinding machine.

Since the bone initially has a number of color defects - a yellowish tint, spots, stains, etc., a bleaching procedure is performed to eliminate such a flaw. Only products from the horn do not bleach, since this material initially has a dark shade. To whiten products from animal bone, a 2-3% aqueous solution of caustic soda or a 30% hydrogen peroxide solution is used in which the product is placed, after which the solution is brought to a boil and kept for half an hour at a temperature of no more than 80 degrees or 20 minutes in a cooling peroxide solution. Lime can also be used to whiten bone. For this, the product is laid out in a container, pouring several centimeters thick with layers of lime, where they are aged for a day. After bleaching, the product is washed with water and dried at room temperature.

If necessary, the details of the bone product can be glued with fish glue or PVA and / or painted, polished, tinted with natural materials and paints and undergo other types of processing.

How to choose a room for the production of bone products

Work on the manufacture of bone products is carried out in a non-residential premises equipped with a ventilation and heating system (for the cold season). Exhaust ventilation is needed to remove dust and chips that are inevitable when cutting, grinding and carving material. In addition, it is needed to remove odors. Some raw materials (e.g. raw horn) must be boiled before processing. In this case, the horn is placed in a container, poured with water and put on fire. The boiling process takes several hours with a periodic change of water in the tank, and during cooking there is an extremely unpleasant odor. It is quite difficult to be and even more so work in such a room without a good hood.

At first, you can do without a warehouse. Raw materials can also be stored on shelves in the same room where you work. The main thing is that they should not be located in drafts, near windows or a heating battery, otherwise carved temperature changes will lead to bone damage. In the future, as your business develops and production volumes increase, you should take care of equipping a warehouse for storing materials and finished products.

General recommendations for working with decorative bone products

The following types of bone products are most in demand: knife handles, jewelry, combs and other accessories, figurines and various figures, key rings, elements and whole sets of board games (for example, chess), as well as other souvenir and gift products. The cost of the product depends on many factors: size, complexity, material, the presence of additional finishes, etc. A small product of a simple shape (such as a pendant) from an ordinary animal bone costs about 300-500 rubles, and the same product from a mammoth tusk will cost several times more expensive. Sophisticated sculptural miniatures cost from 1000-1500 rubles. Large sets, which consist of several products and are especially appreciated among collectors, cost several tens and even hundreds of thousands of rubles. But it also takes a lot of time and effort to produce such a kit, not counting the costs of purchasing the necessary materials.

If you do not have much experience in such a craft, you should not immediately purchase a full set of equipment and a batch of raw materials. Try your hand at the simplest small items and use ordinary animal bones and horns for work.

The most difficult thing is to establish a stable sale of such products, especially when it comes to exclusive expensive products. A small souvenir can be sold through gift shops, retail outlets in the markets. With large volumes of production, it is advantageous to cooperate with wholesale and retail companies and retail chains. It is also worth making your own online store, or at least groups on social networks, where you can display photos of your work.

To acquire the necessary minimum for the first time you will need up to ten thousand rubles (raw materials, tools, minimal equipment, training literature). True, one should not count on big profits either. The proceeds of a small workshop will be from 15 thousand rubles a month. In the future, as regular customers and partners appear, increase production, improve their skills, it will be possible to purchase special equipment and hire 2-3 carvers (which, most likely, will first have to be taught all the wisdom of such a craft).

Sysoeva Lilia

(c) www.clogicsecure.com - a portal to business plans and guidelines for starting a small business 08/18/2019


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