Here's a basic selfbow that I finished the tiller on at the Missouri Ozarks Selfbow Jamboree in July 2004. I decided to finish her with some stuff that I got as gifts or in trade with folks at the MOJam. First up are some grass carp skins that I got from Tim Ott (Timo). Tim is perhaps the most ingenious man I have ever met. He likes to try different things and from what I've seen, he makes most of them look good.
Tim gave me the skins at MOJam but I couldn't get to them until a business trip the week after MOJam. Here I am in my Dixon, IL hotel room gluing carp skins to a bow.
Don't tell the folks at the Quality Inn and Suites that I used their sink to wash the fish skins :)
All washed up and...
...some place to go. A vise attached to a 2x6 clamped to the work desk transforms any hotel room into your on-the-road bowmaking shop.
Lay down some glue. I used TBII but I would guess hide glue would work well too.
These skins are pretty weird in that the pattern is made up of the little filaments that hold the scales on. They kind of float around so you have to spend a good amount of time making sure they are in the right place. Otherwise, laying them on is just like doing snakeskins. It's pretty easy stuff. Just work it until the air bubbles are out and the glue is starting to set up.
The pattern is striking!
Afterwards just use a sharp knife to trim the excess.
I like to wrap snakeskins with gauze so that's what I did with these.
In the morning I was blessed with this. The yellow from the osage makes a stunningly beautiful backing. I fear for the grass carp population.
Here it is all finished up.