Get Into Custom Knife Engraving

Get Into Custom Knife Engraving

Rick Eaton makes custom knives, but he doesn’t stop there. He also engraves his custom knives, adding flush gold inlay and fine line shading. But he doesn’t stop there either — he also teaches other engravers how to do the same.

As an instructor at the GRS Training Center in Emporia, Kansas, Eaton has passed his knowledge on to dozens of students. The 2010 training year, though, brings a new course for intermediate engravers who are ready to work on a custom, high-quality knife. This course with Rick Eaton will allow students to transition to achieving a higher level of work on professional stainless steel knives.

Here are just a few examples of the fine custom knifemaking and engraving work done by Eaton. If you are interested in elevating your skills, join Rick Eaton this year at GRSTC for a course in custom knife engraving. Visit the GRSTC website today for more information on Rick and the courses he will teach.

Art Student Gets 2-For-1

Art Student Gets 2-For-1

College art students are famous for running low on time and money. Mitchell Lurth, a student in the Engraving Arts program at Emporia State University, cleverly designed one of his graded college art projects so it could also be his mother’s Christmas present.

Mitch’s mother, Molly, had seen one of his earlier engravings of a nice stylized “M” which she really liked it. Mitch decided to shrink the pattern and use it on a nickel silver pendant. The result is what you see here, and several things are worth noting.

First, Mitchell was challenged by the much smaller scale compared to his earlier work. Next, with the price of gold and silver up substantially, he saved a lot of money working in nickel silver. It looks great, engraves cleanly and is quite durable. Last, he got college credit for making his mom’s gift which is brilliantly efficient especially since he was already familiar with that particular “M” design.

In case you’re wondering, the blank pendant Mitch used is available from GRS as a practice workpiece (#003-303).

If you have been inspired by work you have seen featured here, or have a creative piece you would like GRS to consider for Featured Photos, send an email with your photos to featured@grstools.com.

Practice is Valuable

Practice is Valuable

A stainless steel key fob is a great way to practice your skills — especially before executing a technique on an expensive piece.

Jeff Parke, who sharpened his engraving skills with a Sam Alfano lettering class at GRSTC, decided to try out gold inlay with background removal on this steel fob. Parke is anticipating a job engraving a Joe Kious knife, but he needed something to practice on first.

He hadn’t tried this technique before, and it is the first time he has attempted to shade gold like this. “It’s like cutting flour….I did learn a lot though,” Parke commented. Although he says it is “far from perfect”, Parke whipped this practice piece out in about 10 hours or so. With such little time invested in this piece, it served as an efficient way to practice AND create a nice little key fob.

A Trompe L’oeil in Miniature

A Trompe L’oeil in Miniature

A technique dating back many centuries, trompe l’oeil or “fool the eye” is a creative method for making two-dimensional artwork appear as if tangible and three-dimensional.

Mitch Moschetti, inventor of the fixtures seen in the new Cylinder Blocks™ Kit (#023-510), is a talented engraver who spent quite a few hours over the course of three years to complete this engraving of a bolt-action rifle. The receiver ring and integral scope mount shown in the photos are just a small portion of this extensive project. Although it has the appearance of sculpted work, it is composed of thousands (or perhaps even millions) of tiny engraved dots.

It is done entirely with flush inlaid 24K gold. Moschetti used these tiny dots to form the look of sculpted scrolls and leaves with shadows in the gold and the surrounding steel. The background is not relieved nor is there measurable depth to the work. Quite a stunning example of dot technique using inlaid metal!

If you have been inspired by work you have seen featured here, or have a creative piece you would like GRS to consider for Featured Photos, send an email with your photos to featured@grstools.com.

The Lumenesque Scroll

The Lumenesque Scroll

Sam Alfano has a treasure of knowledge stored up from his many years as a hand engraving artist. One beautiful design technique that he uses is his lumenesque scroll.

This scroll technique has a beautiful and bright finish. It can be used for a variety of jewelry pieces, as you can see here with Sam’s use of the lumenesque on a cross pendant and a couple of rings. The bold cuts are created with a polished 120 degree C-Max Graver from GRS (#022-619) and are actually three-dimensional. These cuts provide a durable and nice-looking sculpted scroll design that works perfectly for engraved jewelry applications such as rings.

Want to learn just how to create this scroll for your engraved jewelry? Sam Alfano teaches this technique step-by-step with clear instructions on his new Successful Jewelry Engraving DVD (#022-855). You can buy this DVD online today and start engraving this pattern in no time. For a more hands-on approach, join Sam for a five-day course at the GRS Training Center in 2010.

If you have been inspired by work you have seen featured here, or have a creative piece you would like GRS to consider for Featured Photos, send an email with your photos to featured@grstools.com.

Musical “Lip” Service

Musical “Lip” Service

Using bright cut techniques, engraver Brian Powley finishes out the sparkling surface of these high-quality flutes with engraved designs.

Unlike a bracelet, where you engrave and then curve the metal, the lip plate of flutes like these are already curved. “The curved surface is a bit tricky,” says Powley, “but I have a custom fixture that allows me to turn the piece while it’s being rotated in the vise.”

Since the metal of the flute lip plate is quite thin in places (around 0.014″) — unlike guns and knives — the possibility of cutting completely through the metal while engraving is always a concern. The custom fixture and experience helps reduce this risk, as well as working only with professional quality instruments. Brian says, “I won’t engrave any plated metals–too much can (and usually does) go wrong.” He always works with solid alloys of gold, silver, and platinum.

To do the beautiful bright cuts, Brian uses special high-speed steel flat graver and 120 degree gravers with a polished, mirror-like finish to the face. After polishing with a ceramic lap, he goes one step further and uses 2500-3000 grit wet/dry automotive paper adhered to a blank wheel, giving a slight radius to the heel.

Powley has engraved over 8,000 of these lip plates over the last 10 years, and gets them from manufacturers, importers, dealers, and repair shops as well as individual artists from all over the U.S., Canada, South America and China.”

It’s always great to see the variety of applications for the engraving arts. If you have been inspired by work you have seen featured here, or have a creative piece you would like GRS to consider for Featured Photos, send an email with your photos to featured@grstools.com.

A Gentleman’s Knife

A Gentleman’s Knife

Ralph Bone was a man with an excellent and remarkably broad skill set.

He made knives, engraved and customized firearms, and taught many people what he had learned. He passed away in 2006. This stainless steel Buck knife is about 2.8″ long (blade closed). Ralph engraved it as a gift. He put a nicely styled gold line inlay around the outside to frame the scrollwork, which is nice but not overdone.

Ralph’s shading technique is worthy of some study. It is fine shading, but doesn’t go too far. He makes good use of all his shade lines and their placement is quite strategic. Also note the small engraver’s signature “R. BONE” in simple block letters. These five letters mean almost everything to the owner of this knife especially since 2006.

If you have been inspired by work you have seen featured here, or have a creative piece you would like GRS to consider for Featured Photos, send an email with your photos to featured@grstools.com.

Embellishing Handcrafted Furniture

Embellishing Handcrafted Furniture

Sometimes engraving is the focus of a career. In John Cameron’s case, it’s the “icing” on his handcrafted woodwork.

Working with wood for nearly two decades, John Cameron of Gloucester, Massachusetts, developed a curiosity about adding metalwork like this to his furniture pieces while he attended woodworking school in California during the early 1990s. Engraver Rod Cameron showed John the basics, so he started with traditional tools on soft metals.

About five years ago, John upgraded to pneumatic tools at the suggestion of John “Jock” Gifford. This master craftsman now uses his GraverMax, his microscope, hand gravers, and what he says is “most important”– his GRS Power Hone.

Last summer, Fine Woodworking Magazine featured John on the back cover (issue #206). Read more about John Cameron on his website johncameroncabinetmaker.com and check out his Master page on the New Hampshire Furniture Masters Association website.

Decorative metalwork like these knobs are a great way to increase the value of your woodwork and add style or complete a design. If you have been inspired by work you have seen featured here, or have a creative piece you would like GRS to consider for Featured Photos, send an email with your photos to featured@grstools.com.

Aquamarine and White Gold, Cathedral-Style

Aquamarine and White Gold, Cathedral-Style

Creating a custom piece for a client using existing stones is a great way to turn out beautiful pieces of jewelry.

This ring by jeweler Ron Finch is a piece he created for a customer using a large aquamarine stone. The stone, which measure approximately 18mm x 14mm, was provided to Finch by the customer. She purchased the gemstone while on vacation and brought it to Finch to create a a custom ring.

After consulting the client on what she wanted, and taking into consideration the large size of the gem, Finch and his customer decided on this modern and elegant cathedral style. The thirty-eight round diamonds accent the sides of the 14k white gold, with a total weight of 0.52 carats. This ring is a beautiful example of custom-created work.

Finding Inspiration

Finding Inspiration

One of the goals of the Featured Photos section of the GRS site is to provide pieces of engraving, stone setting, and similar works so that another artist may be inspired.

This copper bracelet, which may look familiar if you check out Featured Photos every Tuesday and Friday, is based on a bracelet by Sam Alfano previously featured. Seth Becker of Conrad, Montana, saw this bracelet here and was inspired to try it himself. The style is a Transition Flare Cut, which is a technique that produces beautiful results using sculpting-like methods.

Becker continues to work on the execution of the transition style, with help from inspirational pieces like Alfano’s original bracelet, as well as engravers Ron Smith and Roger Bleile. If you have been inspired by work you have seen featured here, or have a creative piece you would like GRS to consider for Featured Photos, send an email with your photos to featured@grstools.com.

What A “Purdey” Gun

What A “Purdey” Gun

Alain Lovenberg is a master of many styles. Whether he is working with lines or sculpting, his work is astonishing to say the least.

For the detailed work Lovenberg engraved on the Quails Gun, he describes it here: “On this Purdey shotgun, the six American species of quails are depicted: the gambles, the bobwhites, the mountain quails, the Montezuma quails, the scaled quails and the California quails. The scenes are carved in low relief, the backgrounds are gold inlaid and there are accents in gold, copper, silver and platinum on the plumage of the birds. It was a long work but what is unusual with this composition it is the absence of the traditional scrolls of acanthus leaves as ornamental motif.”

“I have chosen some trees and plants which generally grow in the natural environment of these various species of quails such as the pine, the mesquite, the white oak etc… and I used their stylized foliage as decorative elements on the different parts of the gun.”

Works such as these are an excellent source of inspiration for engravers both advanced and amateur, professional and hobbyist. If you want to add to your skills with a learning experience from a master engraver like Lovenberg, make sure you check out the GRS Training Center website on December 1, 2009 for the release of the 2010 Course Schedule.

Custom Engraved Electric Guitar: Part 3

Custom Engraved Electric Guitar: Part 3

It’s finally done; Mitchell Lurth has now completed his first custom engraved electric guitar during fall 2009. Previously, in Part 1 and Part 2, you saw Mitch develop the design and then start engraving.

After he completed the pick guard, Mitchell decided to add a copper accent piece to the headstock. It is made from the same 2mm thick copper sheet; and of course, it’s engraved. At this point, the project got even more creative. The stock knobs and pickups just didn’t look right. So, the plastic volume, tone and pickup selector knobs were replaced with custom machined copper knobs. Lastly, Mitch replaced the stock pickups with an upgraded set by Seymour Duncan.

The result is stunning as you can see…and amazing since this is Mitchell’s first try at customizing a guitar. It’s now a wonderful part of the display in the GRS Training Center. If you are ever near Emporia, Kansas, please visit and see it yourself. Mitchell Lurth is an Emporia State University student enrolled in the Engraving Arts discipline, which is a part of the ESU Fine Arts program.

In case you are wondering what guitar Mitch is now playing (since this one is fastened to a wall), he has a new one which he plans to customize and engrave. It will certainly be a future Featured Photos, so check back and see.

Tools used: all hand engraving was done with a 901 pneumatic handpiece connected to GRS GraverMach with Airtact hand control. No feet were used in the engraving of this terrific piece except when Mitch walked to his workbench.

A Masterful Progression

A Masterful Progression

Recently, Martin Strolz of Austria traveled to the United States to instruct his 5-day Grand Masters course at the GRS Training Center.

His advanced course allowed experienced students to learn some of his techniques for designing layouts and engraving firearms. This demonstration piece is a “finished” example of the techniques. Strolz has purposely left the plate progressively unfinished. The plate shows various stages of execution so that it is easy to see the steps in between a blank plate and a finished work.

The work here goes from outline cuts on the left to background cutting and modeling to the final stage on the right side of the plate. Strolz has taken a silicone mold of this very special progressive plate that will be available as plastic castings from FEGA.

Strolz graciously gave this plate to GRS to be added to the extensive collection of masterful works such as this. Read more about Grand Masters on www.grandmastersprogram.com and learn how you can be part of the exclusive 2-week masters course in 2010.

Flippin’ Out

Flippin’ Out

This knife by Tira Mitchell, who teaches engraving at the GRS Training Center, shows just how you can use less and get more.

Although the design may look complex to beginners, it demonstrates a great way to utilize design elements when planning a design. Comparing the ends, the design is basically the same. Each section contains a basic three scroll design that fills the space properly. However, Tira has taken this basic plan and flipped it to create a nice balance.

The larger section, of course, needs additional scrolls to look correct and balanced. Tira added two intertwined scrolls at the base of the backbone of the scroll. The same style of leaves and even the same placement of the leaves can be used on both the smaller and larger space.

If you are interested in learning engraving and don’t know where to start, call the GRS Training Center today for advice on how to get started. You can learn directly from Tira and other professional engravers at the GRSTC. Watch for the 2010 course schedule coming December 1, 2009.

Engraffiti™ by Weldon Lister

Engraffiti™ by Weldon Lister

Engravers seem to be by nature artistic, creative, and innovative. Most engravers enjoy finding new ways of going about their business, whether it is a time-saving technique or a new tool geometry.

Weldon Lister is an engraver who likes to use the traditional tools of the trade for most of his engraved work. Although he creates engraved pieces most often, Lister has started making bracelets using a “super-secret” embossing method that he developed. The method enables him to continue his handmade approach with a vintage-cool result.

Here are a few of his Engraffiti™ bracelets with styles such as “Rayskin”, “Ostrich”, and “Scroll”. These, although handmade, are different from his usual wholly engraved works. These bracelets are available in copper or sterling silver, and some are even made as a “bimetal”, as Weldon calls it. These are made from two cuts of metal soldered together to make one complete bracelet, though it is a time-consuming process. The final product is a contemporary and modern look that has great style.

View more of Weldon’s beautiful handcrafted and engraved jewelry and other works on his website www.weldonlister.com.

Michelangelo’s Bird of Prey

Michelangelo’s Bird of Prey

Luciano Bosis makes firearms, and he makes them well. A beautiful, well-made gun like this Michelangelo model is perfect and complete when paired with engraving.

The model shown here, which is the Michelangelo Model by the Luciano Bosis Gunmakers (Fabbrica Armi Luciano Bosis), is “a result of the dedicated skill and unerring eye of the master craftsmen in achieving perfection at all stages of the process” (bosis.com). At Luciano Bosis Gunmakers, the engraver works with the gunsmith and client to create a unique, custom firearm like this one.

This firearm features copious scrollwork with inlaid metals. The engraving, done by G.S. Pedretti of Brescia, Italy, shows off highlights with the tones of the lighter metal and the regal wings of the eagle with brilliant gold. Pedretti uses hammer and chisel as well a burin techniques to execute his engravings.

Advanced engraving like this starts with knowledge and practice. Take the first step to reaching this high-level of artistic engraving by calling the GRS Training Center about learning advanced techniques. Visit the GRSTC online at www.grstrainingcenter.com for course information and more.