The gilt-edged age for the ship carver had to have been the 17th and 18th centuries. The figureheads were the least of it. There were gilded coats of arms, allegorical figures, swags, and elaborately carved moldings everywhere.
Usable design elements are in plain sight within other designs. Plunder away!
Paint hides a multitude of sins is an old seaman's adage. It also hides all the details,
keep your dollar in your pocket, and never say never.