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Back from Engraving Class

May 25, 2014 3 min read

It feels good being back home after spending a few days in Seattle and taking a 5 day engraving class at The Ranch. Center for Arts & Craft in Snohomish. The class was taught by master engraver Ray Cover. It was a great experience and I feel learned a lot. The class encompassed tips on proper tool use, graver sharpening, design transfer, cutting techniques and of course lots of practice of different engraving styles.


Ray Cover  Class demonstration
Ray Cover demonstration on his traveling bench

I was very happy the equipment used in class was all air assist gravers (GRS and Lindsay). I had the chance to work with a palm control Lindsay Airgraver for a couple days. I certainly can feel the difference between the foot control setup I have and the palm control. Palm control is more intuitive. But unless I get seriously into engraving and it starts making money, I will probably not invest into the palm control upgrade for a while.


First day we spend some time sharpening gravers using the Ray Cover Templates.

Graver sharpening with templates

What a difference a sharpening with a variable speed Power Hone makes instead of the manual way with just the bench stones. That's an equipment I had not bought yet. I am glad Ray told us about a cheaper solution using a simple tool sharpener which can be used with the standard diamond laps. Will set this up next week.


With the square graver we just made we started to practice straight lines, circles and scroll backbones.
Engraving practice plate
Then we made a bright cut graver and practiced lettering.
Script engraving practice
After that some practice with scrolls and flower designs using the square and bright cut graver.
Master vs beginner bright cut engraving
This shows the difference years of engraving practice makes. Top it Ray's demonstration designs and below my meager outcome.
Lot's of practice needed. Controlling the tilt of the bright cut graver is tough. Always looks so easy in videos, but it's certainly not easy.
Over the next days we practiced more engraving like border designs and scrolls.
Scoll work practice
I really liked the circle background texture on the scroll design above. It's done by using a beading tool as a stamp, placing each circle next to each other. It's a fairly quick way to do back ground texture. It's certainly easier than the back ground removal with gravers we practiced later and the stipple texturing like the practice piece below shows (lower left corner). OMG, that background removal takes forever. I have to try the removal with a rotary bur and see if that is any quicker for me.
Scroll design with background removal
A few more practice pieces that need a lot more work and graver control to look halfway good.
This looks more like chicken scratches. But with time and practice  I am sure I will get there.
Engraving practice on steel and brass
I stayed the week with Sarah Hood in Seattle who was an awesome host. I did love the drive  everyday to Snohomish. It was such a treat to see lush green landscape, not something I see in dry Los Angeles areas especially with this years drought. In between class days I got a bit of sightseeing in too. I visited the pier, the Seattle library building, Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery and the sculpture garden. The weather was actually pretty nice, some rain, sure, but lot's of sunshine too. Seattle this time of the year seems to be an amazing destination. Not sure if I could survive the gray rainy winter there. But I hope to get a chance to come back in the future again.

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