My Journey into Learning How to Engrave Jewelry

Well, here I am, on the road to learning how to engrave jewelry! Lynne and Vise

When I decided I really wanted to learn about engraving, I thought that it wouldn’t be that hard. I knew, of course, that there would be a learning curve, but I never understood how much equipment I would need to do it well– and how much skill it would take!

So how did I even get started on this journey? I have always loved the look of engraving on jewelry. I really love to learn new things.

So the first thing I did was to order some DVD’s on how to engrave by Sam Alfano, Master Engraver. This is an example of one of his rings.

engraved ring

His videos are a bit pricey, but if I had to take a class in person, it would cost much more, and of course, no one in my geographical area is teaching it. So I watched the videos, and he made it look pretty easy (experts always do).

What became immediately apparent was that I was going to need a LOT of equipment. I needed a good size air compressor (or so I thought) and got one at my local Home Depot.
I had not anticipated how large this would be–as I ordered it online. When I received it I realized it was HUGE!. air compressorI needed to rearrange my studio to make it fit. I also knew that I needed to buy an air graver machine to hook up to the air compressor.
I had no idea how it worked, as I could find very little information online, including how to set these machines up. I watched videos about air compressors, and tried to figure out which couplings I needed, and how to not blow up my machine. I get nervous when dealing with machinery I don’t understand. It is both scary and exciting!    graver machineToday, I figured it all out and got them hooked up and running! I am so proud of myself!

I also learned that gravers (the steel thing-a-ma-bobs that actually mark the metal), have to be “prepared” and sharpened. So I got some gravers, some handles, and then I had to get a graver sharpening machine, since I didn’t trust myself to do it right by hand.

This is a “lap” machine with diamond disks along with a ceramic disk. Another intimidating machine! I watched a video on sharpening gravers, and realize it is an art unto itself. Another big learning curve and another significant investment!

I learned I needed something that holds the metal and allows you to rotate it freely to make scrolls in the metal, and that required another piece of equipment–a turntable and low profile vise.vice2

So I ordered those, along with a whole lot of graver tools, flat gravers, ongelett, square, 120 degree etc. I have NO IDEA how to use them yet, but I am equipped!

It is a risk, for sure. I have invested a lot of money into equipment for a technique, that I am not even sure I will like. Of course, the purchases have now committed me to learning the process. I know that I will experience frustration, and that I will make several errors, and that I will feel like going over a cliff at times–but I really, really, really, like the outcome of engraving designs. I just found this great website from Tirra Mitchell, who offers engraving help and designs for beginners. I would love to start out by making this beautiful ring Ring engraved which she shows on her site. This ring is elegant, and has a lovely little stone. The engraving has flow and flourish. This adds a feminine and lovely character to the ring. PLEASE WISH ME LUCK–I THINK I WILL NEED IT!



Lynne Patnode is a jewelry artist from Torrington, Connecticut. You can find available jewelry in her Etsy Shop. If you would like jewelry made especially for you, you can request a custom order.

The 800 Pound Gorilla, Let’s Get Him Out of the Jewelry Studio!

Hello again.  This is Part II of “How to Talk to an Artist,” a blog series about wanting a special something custom made just for you.  Last time, we spoke about having the confidence to approach an artist to ask for a custom order.  Today, let’s talk about making that order!

Since I am an artisan jeweler, I am going to use jewelry as my example, but this would be true if you wanted to order anywebmoonscene2 custom art, painting, sculpture, glasswork, pottery, woodwork, any art!

So what is stopping you from asking for that order?  Well there is an 800 pound Gorilla in the room, and that is price.  It seems to be the biggest hurdle for both customer and artist to jump through, and often stops an order before it begins.

webspinnergold2My thought on this, from an artist’s point of view, is to discuss this first and foremost, even before hearing what the custom order is going to be.  Most often, a customer has an idea of what s/he is willing to spend on something for themselves.  For example, I got an order the other day, where the customer says, I really always wanted a gold bracelet, a big cuff that has a flared shape, and is about 2 inches wide, with a pretty wavy pattern on it.  So I asked her, what did she think it would cost for something like that, and she answered that she thought that would be about $200.  Unfortunately, if that were to be made with gold, the material alone would have been approximately $1400 with gold prices the way they are.  But instead of discouraging her, I mentioned brasscuff1some ways she could get the look she wanted, using gold-filled metal or gold plated metal, and perhaps she could be happy if the cuff were 1.5 inches to 1.75 inches wide.  I would make a prototype in brass, and she could see, or maybe she would like it in brass, which is a gold tone.    But because price was out in the open, it became fun to discuss the possibilities!  She made an order, and ended up paying $225.00 for a gold-filled metal bracelet that was 1.5 inches wide, and she couldn’t be happier.

In other words, we found a way to fulfill her desire!  And it wasn’t the least bit uncomfortable!

What do you think about this?  From either an artist’s point of view or from a customer’s perspective?  Are you willing to talk about pricing first?  Let me know in the comments section what you think!

Cheers!  Lynne

SilverSpiral Creations