Adding color to Teton Simulated Bear Claws
Updated: Feb 8
By Craig Jones
At Teton Trade Cloth, we offer 2 types of bear claws. Grizzly bear claw replica sets and "achievable" grizzly sets. Our replica sets are the best, most desired color of claws, the light honey colored claws were the most sought after among Native people. Our sets increase in length gradually as a true bear claw sets would. Other providers only offer claws in several sizes, small, medium and large, which leads to a stepped down look on your necklace. With our set, you will be able to recreate that old style and authentic look to your necklace. Hand cast and painted by professional artists. Our "achievable" Simulated claws come in 3 colors in sets of 40 claws.
Our Simulated Bear Claws are great by themselves, but with some additional effort you can have a really great looking set of claws. We offer 3 base colors, Bone, Honey and Brown. There is significant variation in the coloring of bear claws and we chose these 3 colors to closely replicate the color of natural bear claws. You can choose the color that appeals to you best and provides the best contrast to your final project. If your looking for instructions on how to assemble a plains style necklace, see our blog post on the subject HERE. Also, we have a compilation of great articles on how to assemble and the history behind bear claw necklaces. Check that out HERE.
First start by assembling your materials.
Paint brushes, some water to thin your paint, good artist acrylics (not the cheap paint that comes in the plastic bottles for $.99, it won't stick to the tooth) and various grits of sandpaper IE 60 grit, 80 grit to 120 grit are good for removing any part lines (although they are pretty slight on this product) as well as providing texture and removing the smooth finish to the plastic so the paint sticks well. As for colors of paint, I suggest Raw Sienna and Burnt Umber, you might also consider a light tan/cream color especially if you chose the brown color claw.
Next, sanding the claws. Sand them all over including the knuckle. Try to sand the whole surface of the claw. Course grits can provide deep grooves that will provide a realistic paint effect when we apply the paint. Here is a time lapse video of the sanding of the 3 colors of claws.
Time lapse video of my application of paint to the 3 colors of Teton Simulated Bear Claws. When applying the paint, it is important to use a light touch. Use different mixes of paint, some more dry, some more wet. I like to use a stiff coarse bristle brush. The key is to "layer" the paint so that you achieve complex tones. You will see in the video that I often sand some of the paint off (again with various grits) between coats then reapply. Practice makes perfect and if you don't like the effect you can always sand the paint off and start over until you achieve your desired effect. The import thing is to study photos of real claws so you can know what you are trying to achieve. There are lots of reference photos available if you do a google image search. By doing so, you will also realize the wide scope of variation that exists among the coloring of bear claws.
A bag of 40 Teton Trade Cloth Simulated Bear Claws in the "Bone" color.
Prepping our materials.
Paint applied to the bone colored claws.
The three colors of claws after clear finish has been applied.