I like to post videos on Instagram showing the magic of the before and after transformations of a hand engraved piece. Through the quick before and after, a blank metal surface is transformed into something unique in a click, blink or wave of a wand. It's humorous and a fun way to share finished pieces, but my engravings are far from quick magic.
There are several steps from start to finish in my hand engraving process, the main of which is coming up with a unique design. The designs I engrave are from my own hand (unless asked by an individual to replicate their personal logo). I draw my designs to fit the object specifically and enjoy making new designs for specific pieces.
I These small hand planes were a recent commission that were particularly memorable. A father had ordered these planes for his two young girls and asked me to hand engrave a design and their initials onto each plane.
Shown in the video above is a tape measure engraving from start to finish. I've engraved more tape measures than I can count! What I love about them are the variations in shape and size. An ordinary, but useful tool, now has a special and unique design embedded into it, made one little cut at a time.
Have you ever taken time to stare at the tool called a square?
It rarely gets the chance to shine, but is the key to a perfect line.
Without curves it might seem plain, but I ask you to look again.
In between its linear form, is now a design that isn't the norm.
Hand engraved, a design with flare, go ahead, take a stare.
I posted that little poem in the caption of this photo on my Instagram page. A square is an extremely useful tool to craftsmen but is rarely something that is very fancy. A few years back, I had the opportunity to engrave a hand plane made by Tony Rouleau of Hillview Wood & Metal. It was the first I was introduced to Tony's work and I was very impressed. Aside from the hand planes, Tony also makes other tools including these precision squares.
A customer of Tony's asked if I would engrave a large square for him, giving me free reign in design, other than it needed to include an anchor. Included in the shipment of the large square, was a tiny square which Tony gifted to me to hand engrave as I saw fit for my own tool collection.
As I was hand engraving this small square, the swirls of beautiful brass were falling down around me. Looking at them, I pondered the art which I impart to a piece. I wrote about it in the caption of this photo on my Instagram page, "It seems like a bit of an oxymoron that the addition of my art is through subtraction. In the carving out and removing of metal, I add my design to a piece. One tiny line at a time, a picture appears, now permanently carved into an object's surface. What was taken away, now leaves behind something new."
Engraving is more than scratching a surface, its carving out a design that will change the look of something forever. I hope the owner of this tool will treasure his square as much as I treasure mine.
Do you like to barter for things? I sure do (sometimes even in my own household). Last year I hand engraved a set of trammel points that my husband reeeeaaaaalllly wanted. Generally, I'd just hand them over, but instead, I found myself saying, "Find me a book press and you've got a deal." Shortly thereafter, this lovely old book press came into my possession and I decided to give it a little bit of a facelift.
The black, chipped paint showed years of use and the gold toned pinstriping was wearing off. Instead of sand blasting the pieces, or removing all of the old paint, I wanted to keep its aged look by adding a coat of black right over top of the chips and scrapes. Following disassembly of the unit, I scraped away any old paint chips that were significantly loose, cleaned it as well as I could and applied a fresh coat of black paint. There's nothing wrong with a full restoration that takes a piece to bare metal, but I wanted this piece to retain its aged look and unique character. There's a warmth to things that look used, their marks tell a story. I wanted to keep some of that in this piece.
After contemplating whether I should recreate the gold outlines that were on the press when I received it, I decided instead to have it be reflective of my own style. Using a high grade sign paint, I hand painted flourishes on the main components of the press, including the wheel.
In my field of hand engraving, a steady hand is of utmost importance. A slip of the hand can create an unwanted gouge that can sometimes be fixed and sometimes cannot. Calm and steady hands are necessary to execute a clean engraving. They are also a must in the art of pinstriping.
A solidly built tool now has a look that is unique and fresh. Instead of sitting unused on display on an antique store shelf, it is now a focal point in my shop being used for my block printing and hopefully one day a bit of book making.
My name is Jenny. I'm a hand engraver but I also am a creative who has a tough time sitting still. My mind is always swirling with new project ideas. In between engraving, I like to jump in and out of other activities like restoring a vintage camper, redecorating my home, woodworking and print making (just to name a few).