Well, here I am, on the road to learning how to engrave jewelry!
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.
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!. I 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! Today, 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.
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 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!