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How hard is engraving to do?

Hi all:

Books to get and devour for the metalsmith / aspiring engraver:
"The Art of Engraving", by James B. Meek (any relation to Brian
Meek, aka Alberic?) absolutely the first book you need. 

Regrettably, James Meek is no relation that I know of. Although I do
engrave. (Meek’s a rare enough name that I’m sure he’s related
somehow, but no link that I know anything about.) Even more
regrettably, someone seems to have wandered off with my copy of his
book, so I’m going to have to pony up again… (sigh)

I heartily recommend his book: I paid bucks for it once, and I’m
about to pay even more bucks for it again. That should tell you what
I think of it.

Regards,
Brian Meek

May I suggest a book for anyone interested in learning the
technique of hand engraving, it is published by NAG press which is
apart of Robert Hale books, soon be my publisher. The book is also
available via Amazon for 23 dollarsin the USA or 16 poundsin the
UK. This book is called: "Engraving on Precious Metals" by A.
Brittain and P. Morton 

I would like to join Mr. Miller in recommending this book. I have
been reading this thread with interest because I had been running
engraving shop from 1979 to 1986. Myself, my partner, and 6 full time
engravers. Each was hired as apprentice and trained inside. So I
think I know a few things about engraving.

The book is the best source on the subject. I simply go over few
points.

  1. Start with the engraving bench. Jeweler’s bench is not suitable
    for engraving. I also never saw an engraving bench for sale. You
    going to have to make one or hire a carpenter to make one.

  2. One must have an engraving block. I know it is expensive. Nothing
    can be done without it.

  3. It is impossible to over-emphasize importance of graver
    sharpening. Beginner should expect to spend 15 to 20 minutes to
    sharpen a graver, or even longer. One must invest in high quality
    sharpening stones. All stones must be 8 inches long and mounted at
    the same level. ( The same mean the same. Approximately is not good
    enough ) Arkansas stone 8 inches long could be difficult to find, but
    there is no substitute.

  4. Allow yourself at least 6 month of daily practice of no less then
    4 hours a day. Only then some progress will be made.

The book will acquaint you with all the details required to start
practicing. Do not succumb to siren songs expounding the benefits of
power assisted gravers. What ever results from application of these
tools have nothing to do with engraving. Engraving does not require
physical strength. If cutting is hard, it means that graver is not
prepared correctly.

One last point. Some stone-setters are very good in using gravers,
but they are not engravers. It is distinctly different techniques.
What works in stone-setting does not necessarily works in engraving
and vice-verse. I have seen stone- setters teaching engraving with
less than acceptable results.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com

All of you interested in engraving, especially using hand gravers,
need to join this group: HandEngravers at groups.msn.com

There is a wealth of there!

This book is called: "Engraving on Precious Metals" by A. Brittain
and P. Morton I purchased my copy of this book back in 1964 

I’m afraid James was much ahead of me - I got mine in around 1970.
Good, solid, traditional methods, and affordable, too.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com

http://www.lindsayengraving.com 

Yes, and also http://www.igraver.com
And Steve’s other site, http://www.handgravers.com

Make sure to check out the forums, where there is much good advise
and many pics of some of the finest engraving the world has ever
known…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com

I own the GRS Gravermach and I decided I needed to learn engraving
since I have the power. I took a course at Catalog-in-motion in
Tucson this past February. It is a great introduction and a great
way to learn. Yes, power from your own hands is “hard”.

So, my suggestion is if you want to learn either go to Glendo corp.
in Kansas (they make the Gravermach system) or try to get to Tucson,
AZ in Feb. 2009.

It is fun once you know how.

jennifer friedman
http://www.jenniferfriedmanstudio.com

Hi Dave and others,

When I said I’d got the engraving bug, I didn’t necessarily mean I
wanted to BE an engraver by trade and I certainly did NOT think it
would easy, just that I enjoyed my initial excursion into the art
and intend to have a go, practice lots and see where it takes me. I
can draw, I was good at calligraphy so I can do lettering at least on
paper and have put the mileage in with respect to miles and miles of
lines in ink so I’m not afraid to do exactly the same in metal with
a graver. No it won’t be easy but challenges by their nature are not
easy, but I do love a challenge. I want to have a go at pretty much
every aspect this gold/silversmithing trade has to offer, and I
don’t just mean dipping my toe into the water and then moving onto
something else. Every new thing I learn, I make mistakes with, just
like everyone else, but that’s what teaches me more about it all. I’m
a firm believer in mistakes being one of the greatest teachers of
all. You learn more by the mistakes than you do from getting things
right. When things go wrong, you have to analyse why they went wrong
and then work out how you would change things the next time you try
it.

I’m still building on my stone setting “skills” and of course will
be for the duration of how ever long I work metal for. BTW I do know
that engraving and using gravers in stone setting are different
animals - I’m just having a go at both techniques and will continue
to practice, practice, practice and hopefully at some stage I’ll be
able to incorporate them into the work I’m producing.

It’s all good fun along the way. Many thanks to all those offering
advice. I’m sure I’ll be back for more!

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk

Hi Kevin,

but if you're looking for quick results it's not going to happen. I
spend a couple of hours practicing most days. I'm a slow learner but
I learn a little bit each session. 

I never said I was looking for quick results and I’m not afraid of a
bit of hard work. I do tend to be a fast learner though and by that
I don’t mean that I’ll pick it up quickly, just that I tend to get a
feel for things quickly and make mistakes that I learn from fairly
quickly and so I can make progress in things I try. I also go at
things with the attitude that NOTHING is impossible if you want to
achieve something (what some have called my gung ho attitude), so
yes I’ll make loads of mistakes and come up against lots of
frustrations and you’ll probably see a few engraving questions from
me from time to time, but I’ll have a go and see where it goes. I’m
going to buy a couple of the recommended books and some copper sheet
for practicing and see if it’s a technique that I can eventually
incorporate into my work.

Thanks for all the advice.

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk

Hi Gary,

If you are anywhere close to the Midlands I'm certain that he would
be willing to give you a few lessons. 

Thanks very much! Funnily enough as I type this, we are actually on
the motorway driving down to the Midlands to take my youngest three
to their Aunt’s for a holiday. I’m not driving obviously, hubby is!
Sadly I’m not in a position to take any lessons - the budget is too
tight and any pennies I do have are spent on silver, stones and
tools. There’s always something I need that swallows up the funds,
but thank you very much for the recommendation, I’ll keep it in
mind.

Helen
UK

Hi Helen,

Like I said, he’s retired and certainly wouldn’t be averse to some
starter lessons for free. I wouldn’t either.

Regards, Gary Wooding

When I said I'd got the engraving bug, I didn't necessarily mean I
wanted to BE an engraver by trade and I certainly did NOT think it
would easy 

I pretty much took up engraving with the same atttude Helen has, and
still have it. I’m a pretty bunk engraver in the world of engravers,
but I can do what I want and need to do with a fair confidence, too.
I do consider it the most difficult skill to master - the simplist
of tools and your hand and nowhere to hide. It doesn’t take so long
to be able to do some lines on a shank and interesting decorative
stuff, though. Little by little, it sinks in…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com

Thanks to everyone for all of the amazing advice that has been given
in the thread (my first thanks go to Helen Hill for starting the
initial thread which made me get up off my duff and ask my question
about shortening the gravers :slight_smile:

As for taking on a new technique, I am not worried about becoming
the best engraver ever but I do look forward to the challenge of
learning a new skill. I have used them for adding some pattern lines
to a dogwood pendant, so I have taken that first leap!

Every technique I have learned so far over the last 16 years has
been self taught. Yes, I have taken a class here or there along the
way, but for all intents and purposes, I have just had to jump in and
read, read, read and try, try, try. So far I have done quite well
going about things this way and I figure adding a bit of engraving
skills to my technique list is just another notch in my bench, so to
speak!

Thanks again to all!
Laney

Like I said, he's retired and certainly wouldn't be averse to some
starter lessons for free. I wouldn't either. 

Thanks SO much for your very kind offer Gary. I’ll definitely keep
it in mind and contact you if I can manage to get to the Midlands
some time.

Helen
UK

Thanks John for a practical, no nonsense, realistic view to learning
the basics of engraving. It’s not at all helpful when people assume
that I and others are just looking for quick results and they send
messages of the doom and gloom of it being really difficult, with
the suggestion that it is not possible.

I will have a go and practice and may be able to use it after a
while. Thanks again.

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk

Hi Helen,

There is also a pretty nice article in this month’s Art Jewelry
magazine (if you can’t get it there, e-mail me privately and I’ll
post a copy to you) for really basic engraving which I think was a
nice, helpful piece. I hope you have a wonderful time with it, and
enjoy the learning process!

Jennie

Hi Lane,

my first thanks go to Helen Hill for starting the initial thread
which made me get up off my duff and ask my question about
shortening the gravers :) 

Thanks again!

I have just had to jump in and read, read, read and try, try, try. 

That’s the spirit! It’s great to see someone else with the same
learning ethos as myself. Anything is possible if you’re determined
enough and put in the many hours of work and experimentation and
keep building on the skills you acquire.

Helen
UK

Hmmm…

Start with the engraving bench. Jeweler's bench is not suitable for
engraving. I also never saw an engraving bench for sale. You going
to have to make one or hire a carpenter to make one. 

What do these engraving benches look like? I am currently using a
GRS shelf for my engraving block, which lowers it into the right
range to work on.

M’lou

What do these engraving benches look like? I am currently using a
GRS shelf for my engraving block, which lowers it into the right
range to work on. 

Nothing special. It is a sturdy table. It must be rock solid. The
height must be when you sit at the table with engraving block on the
table, the work must be at the level, so you neck and back is not
strained while wearing optivisor.

Engraving is done using whole body. Right hand (if you are right
handed) is for holding only. Movement is imparted by left hand
stabilized by the whole body. Bench is the link which makes it
possible. Two of the most critical elements is the sturdiness and the
height.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com

I’ve been practicing (I’m still a student) engraving for some time
and have never seen an engraver’s bench.

Glendo (GRS) has well laid out class rooms for their engraving
classes but use regular jeweler’s benches. Designing and producing a
dedicated engraver’s bench might be a profitable thing for them.

There have been some articles recently in “The Engraver”, FEGA’a
publication, about engraving in Europe and engravers in Belgium
engrave standing.

Anyone ever seen a bench designed specifically for engraving?

KPK

There have been some articles recently in "The Engraver", FEGA'a
publication, about engraving in Europe and engravers in Belgium
engrave standing. 

Once I took a few lessons in classical guitar. I was shown to hold
guitar on the left knee, wrist straight down, and thumb on the back
and never showing. I pointed out to the instructor that it is not how
Beetles were doing it. I still remember his answer. He said " I teach
to play guitar. If you want to be a clown with guitar, check the
circus"

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com