Cafe Interview with Ron Smith


~ Elite 1000 Member ~
Nov 9, 2006
Doylestown, PA
The Engraver's Cafe is very pleased that so many people share with the forum. One of our great contributors and holders of vast engraving knowledge is Ron Smith. We're so pleased that he has agreed to an interview to share his history and knowledge with us.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Ron Smith.

Q. What's your name?
A. Ronald K. Smith

Q. Where are you from?
A. Ft. Worth, Texas

Q. How long have you been engraving?
A. Since 1962

Q. What made you want to become an engraver?
A. I didn’t have aspirations to be an engraver, it just seemed destiny had that planned for me. I saw beautiful work in Italy, commenting about that one day when I returned to the military post from a down town excursion. I was stationed In Verona. I had seen some beautiful engravings on guns in shop windows and said to the supervisor of the craft shop I spent a lot of time in, that would be something very interesting to do. I like crafts, leather work, working with wood, the outdoors, hunting, fishing etc. Never realized I would ever get exposed to it back home, but the first job interview after my military tour was to learn jewelry manufacturing. I went on that interview discouraged about how much they would pay me, but something kept tugging me toward it, so I went. For the $60.00 a week pay I remained discouraged as I took the tour of the jewelry shop until the proprietor took me to this dark corner where there was a desk. As he opened one of the drawers he said “and in your spare time, You can practice on copper plates “ as he placed a burin in my hand. I don’t know what happened in that brief moment, but it was like an electric spark, goose bumps, or something. I knew instantly that was what I was going to do with the rest of my life. It was as if that tool was an old friend, and I knew it some how. From that day on, I spent every spare moment aside from my normal duties as shop gopher, polisher, learning jewelry manufacturing, diamond setting, using a torch, and over in that now lit corner, cutting on copper learning to control that hand tool. I was beginning to engrave flat pieces for the jewelry store along with operating a pantograph machine. In two years, I was capable of doing fairly nice work at which time, still being disappointed in my pay, I went looking for a better opportunity.

Q. Are you a hobbyist or professional engraver?
A. Occupational, Professional

Q. How did you learn engraving?
A. Self taught. The old man who was proprietor of the store only corrected my drawings of some lettering and monogramming. That is what I started learning first. I had to learn to sharpen and handle my tools myself, along with all of the other needed experience.

Q. What was your biggest obstacle when you first started?
A. I don’t know. Sharpening was an ongoing challenge even after I was engraving for a number of years. I don’t let obstacles get in my way when I make up my mind to do something. It was also just struggle enough trying to gain control of the tool. It took intense focus and determination like I had never experienced before, but then I was only twenty one. I was however, quite disciplined for my age.

Q. Are you a hammer & chisel and/or push engraver, or do you use
Pneumatic tools, or a combination of hand and power?
A. I use them all now, but until only a few years ago, I only used the hand tools. I love those old tools. I find it hard to abandon them. They brought me here.

Q. What are your favorite books pertaining to engraving?
A. There weren’t many when I started, but the “Jewelry engravers manual and J.M. Bergling’s series gave me good examples of design and lettering to follow. About ten years into my career, I bought Mr. Prudhommes “engraving review†and had good examples of firearms engraving to look at. Engraving was a very solitary occupation or past time in those days, and information didn’t get around easily like today until we formed the guild (FEGA). I was interested right from the start in firearms engraving and such, and was studying anything I could get my hands on. All of the engravers of my time were. We were hungry for any information we could get. I give a lot of credit to LD Nimschke. That was more or less my bible. I admired that man’s designing skills. He knew how to use negative space and had many interesting ideas on design. That book came along later however. I was well into engraving by then, doing my own thing which wasn’t too good I’m afraid. James Meek also contributed to my success. My lettering was very good, my scroll knowledge was terrible, but being an occupational engraver, I found it necessary to be able to do anything and everything in the engraving trade and the other trades to stay busy. I got most of my experience with a four year stint with a local major jewelry store. Haltoms, here in Ft. Worth

Q. Of the old engraving masters, who's work is among your favorite?
A. ........R. J. Kornbrath

Q. What's the worst engraving mistake you ever made, and how did you
fix it?
A. Wow!, I made a lot of mistakes over the years, but one of the needs of a professional is to know how to get out of trouble. That is a science of its own, and one must know many finishing techniques, plating, polishing, burnishing, removing engraving without a sign that a mistake had taken place. Takes a lot of skill in itself.
B. One thing sticks in my mind but I didn’t fix it exactly. I burnt it to a flaming crisp with a torch. I still feel pretty good about that. If you would like to know the story, a very good longstanding wholesale client sent this bud vase to be engraved. Well, I had never done one of those and went to work on it to find it was paper thin. It takes just so much pressure to cut metal by hand. That cannot be avoided and at the first touch of the graver, went right through the metal. Of course I tried to “fix†it, but I would have to solder another piece of silver over that, sand and polish it down to the original surface and try again. It wasn’t in the cards, because when I applied the torch to solder the little piece covering the hole, the hole just got bigger. Well, by now I was getting pretty desperate. It was a sterling bud vase and quite expensive, not to mention having to tell my client that I had messed it up. Ego you know, so I made an even bigger piece to go over that now gaping hole and put the torch to it again. You guessed it, and that really set me off. I turned that torch up and burned that flaming thing to a crisp. Felt pretty good too. I then calmly called my client and explained what had happened and that these bud vases were not engrave able. I bought her a new one and went about my business with my newly earned knowledge.

Q. What are the majority of your engraving jobs (guns, jewelry, etc)?
A. Most and much of my career was jewelry engraving. I then developed a firearms reputation, then knives, but jewelry engraving was my bread and butter. I could only pursue ornamental work in my spare time, which often went on after business hours. I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with it compared to the other work. I also repaired jewelry, made custom jewelry, set diamonds, and any other thing I could work in to keep a volume of work. I scrimshaw, wood carve, fabricate, did a few bronzes, Intaglio prints, make knives, make guns (muzzle loaders), and buckles. My last and proud creation was a swivel breach, 54 cal. over 28 gauge, all hand made except for the barrel. Many of my engraving friends have seen it. Another was a hand made double barrel flintlock shotgun (that one got stolen). I engraved for years for the wholesale trade and later for the retail trade. I really haven’t done a lot of guns. I did quite a few knives for a while before and after I was forced to move my shop. The highway dept. wanted my location and forced me out. You know, imminent domain. I never quite recovered from that move and had to move home. I then did mostly guns and knives.

Q. What type of magnification do you use (microscope, Optivisor, etc)?
A. Roughly a 3 ½ power optivisor and 10 power bridge loop, (optics ground by a local optometrist). I made frames for them and mounted them on glasses frames. They are for my close up work. They are ten power.

Q. What part of engraving do you find the most challenging or
A. The accuracy required to do excellent lettering, but the tediousness of long winded jobs is extremely taxing to the nerves and endurance, particularly with the hand tools. I find great relief in using the pneumatic tools. Takes a lot of strain off of you. That is worth a lot, particularly when you get older and are plugging away ten or twelve hours a day, but I don’t do that any more.

Q. What part of an engraving job do you dislike the most, and why?
A. Doing the same thing over and over, but I avoided that situation as much as I could. I did do a lot of silverware in my day, however. It helped pay the bills.

Q. What's your favorite part of an engraving job, and why?
A. The idea or concept and the designing. The anticipation of what the thing will look like is exciting to me. Doing the engraving is ordinary, in that once you learn how to cut, you just cut cut cut. I am kind of an explorer. I like new territory and designing fulfills that attitude of searching the unknown and the excitement of discovery.

Q. Do you like or dislike lettering, and why?
A. Lettering gave me a good foundation for accuracy. It gave me life, I cannot dislike it.

Q. What kinds of engraving do you refuse to do?
A. I didn’t refuse much. I was known for doing things that other people wouldn’t try, but I haven't decided if that was wisdom or stupidity. Couldn’t afford to turn work down. It takes a tremendous amount of work to produce an income when that is all you do for a living.

Q. How do you rate the quality of engraving done today as opposed to
50 or 100 years ago?
A. This is a new and golden age of engraving. The average competent engraver is far better than almost all of the last generation engravers with an exception of the few “Masters†that were going out as I was coming in. The foreign masters that immigrated to America were the best, as they were trained in Europe. American engravers that were lucky enough to get attention by those men excelled. The others winged it, forced to learn it on their own and not much chance to catch up.

Q. Do you perceive any part of hand engraving as a dying art?
A. It was becoming that, but it is thriving now. When I came into the trade, most engravers were involved in the jewelry aspect of engraving and there weren’t many doing it as an occupation. There were a cluster of them being successful engraving guns. Most were hobbyist or doing it after getting a good retirement from doing something else. After the advent of the camera, many engravers had to look elsewhere to stay in the business. Banknote engravers were in demand until the camera replaced the need for them. Jewelry was the viable alternative. It got pretty lonely after that.

Q. What country or countries impress you with their highly skilled
A. there are highly skilled engravers in almost every country, but I guess Italy would be my greatest inspiration, as much as I don’t follow their techniques to closely, as I feel that art work should be enjoyed at arms length. If you have to look at a piece of work through a magnifying glass, I feel you are defeating the purpose of art.

Q. What affect has the internet had on your hand engraving?
A. Almost none. I have only just recently gotten on the internet and wouldn’t miss it much if I didn’t have it. I have too many other things that I can do. I rarely get bored. I am spending more time on it now than I will be in the near future, getting over the learning curve.

Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn engraving?
A. I would say if you don ‘t do it because you enjoy it, you are likely not to have the discipline for it. It takes a big commitment. It is very rewarding if you don’t intend to make a lot of money. Now days however, I think engravers are able to get back into competition with today’s economy, as our culture is becoming educated as to the value of the touch of the human hand and the heart of dedication and caring for quality that is behind it.

::: Personal :::

Q. How many children do you have?
A. none of my own, but I always loved children and took boys when I was younger fishing and hunting. They are like my own boys and they keep in touch with me. I sort of silently adopted them. They send me father’s day cards. A couple of them stayed at our house a lot. I always was doing interesting things, making things that attracted the boys in the neighborhood and Liz loves children too. I think they can detect honesty and genuiness better than adults. I think I am pretty important with my sister’s kids too. I taught one of my nephews what I know about the outdoors. You know, about eating weeds and things. How to survive in the wilderness alone, that sort of thing.

Q. What's the occupation of your wife/husband?
A. Housewife and engravers assistant. Ha Ha.............and emotional support. She is a better PR person than me. She and I both worked for the money we made. I think we make a good pair. Me the grouch, and her the sweetie. I recall a picture sent to me by Sam Welch of her between him and me with an inscription by his hand "a rose between two thorns" That is one of my favorite pictures, and probably pretty appropriate, although Sam is a super guy and good friend and not a thorn at all.......That picture is one of my treasures and I smile every time I look t it.

Q. If you have traveled, what was the most exciting country you
visited and what did you enjoy most?
A. I thought Italy was beautiful and wish I had known what I know now when I was there. I could have taken advantage of the beautiful art and would have known what I was looking at and understood it.

Q. Do you have an interesting experience while traveling that you'd
like to share?
A. Most of my interesting experiences have to do with hunting and fishing. I am not a great traveler. It is OK, but the older I get the less of it I like to do. One experience was coming across the Atlantic ocean when I was being mustered out of the army. It was the longest ten days of my life on a troop ship. I had been gone for three years and seeing the statue of Liberty coming into port brought tears to my eyes and a pride that I can’t explain. This was during the Cuban crises, but I saw no action. I was a radio operator and liked that job. Wasn’t cut out to be military though. Didn’t like being ordered around, particularly to do petty things, but would go back if I needed to, to keep freedom alive for the people here at home. I know a little of how those boys feel away from home and some people don't have a clue. That sixties movement nearly destroyed us as a nation and it is still having influence.

Q. What's the most interesting experience you had when meeting people?
A. I meet so many interesting people I would have to give that a lot of thought. I like to joke and enjoy people. It seems like the world is just too serious. Can’t take a joke anymore. I have a good friend that is a thirty five year client who I like to associate with some, as he can make the earth fly. He restores old houses and makes parks out of wildernesses. That has been interesting knowing him. There would just be too many interesting folks to have the time to talk about them on this forum. The greatest thing is that they shared their lives with me in friendship and I gained something from them all. I take the best parts from everyone and attach that to myself. I carry them with me wherever I go. I try to give that good part of them to others, but that makes me a better person doesn’t it?

Q. Besides engraving, what are your hobbies and interests?
A. My wife, Hunting, fishing, outdoors, Models, bow making. Herbs, gardening, creating, fabricating, fixing things to make them last, writing, discussing the universe. Blah blah

Q. Where is your favorite place to be?
A. I love the woods and streams. I can sit in the aspens on a stump and be perfectly content. I love the mountains and God’s creation. It also helped me keep my sanity in this careless world.

Q. What's one thing of which you are most proud?
A. How far I have come from nothing. From a stupid, human animal at birth, to an intelligent, creative, perceptive being.

Q. When you were a child, who was your hero?
A. My daddy and Jesus. I always figured that if I could ever measure up to my worldly dad, I would have accomplished something. I sometimes think he thought I would amount to nothing. He was stern, honest, and sincere. What you saw was what you got. He was not pretentious and spoke the truth. He was the best father a boy could have. He stayed in the reality of things. I think he would be very proud of me now. That makes me happy, as I want to honor his fine name. He was not liked by everyone, but he was respected by everyone that knew him. He had an authority about him that was undeniable. He never had to raise his voice. When he spoke, our ears perked up. We listened. If we didn’t, the next thing coming was the consequences. My parents taught us how to think for ourselves by showing us the consequences of our decisions and choices. He taught us, he didn’t just let us learn by trial and error which is abandonment. He never let his own desires over ride the truth. He was a fine Dad. I love him very much and could never find another human I looked up to over him, except Jesus. Isn’t that they way it is supposed to be? If your children have to go outside of your home for a roll model, you might not have done so good as a parent. My daddy was my hero. He took his job as husband and father very seriously. My mother and father didn’t run away from their problems they faced them and worked it out. They were courageous and durable people, but that was common in their generation and my parents passed it on to me and my sister. Unlike so many others, we didn't think our parents were mean because they made us observe some standards. He loved us before we were born by choosing a good wife. He loved us after we were born by sacrificing some of the things that were important to him for things that were more important for us. He was our protector. He tried to be sure he was correct. He leaned to his father in heaven for guidance, though he was not a religious man per se’. He didn’t let cultural peer pressure lead him around by the nose. He did what he had to do to raise his children properly. He would have laid his life down for his family, but not by giving us everything. He taught us the value of things and life, so that we would not take them for granted. We (my sister and I) were becoming adults about the time the sixties tore his child rearing principals to shreds. He gave us values that made us strong and durable. They want to think they changed the world and they did, but I am not sure for the better. Time will tell the truth of that matter. I just hope we figure it out before we have to learn it by pain because that I'm afraid is coming. Pain is a good teacher however when good judgment is missing. I thank God for my dad every day. He was my hero.

Q. Tell us something few people know about you.
A. I am a pretty private person, and don’t like crowds too much. I am pretty much a loner and free spirit, not a follower, and I really don’t know what to say about that. I’m pretty much what you see is what you get, and pretty transparent I think, but that is my own opinion. I don’t know if everyone would agree. I’m sure I sound pretty stupid sometimes. I think there is a depth about me that others don’t understand, but it wasn’t always that way. I searched and grew.

Q. Where were you on September 11, 2001?
A. I am not sure, I was so blown away by what I was witnessing it wiped out everything that was going on around me physically. I can only remember those terrible pictures and anger and sorrow. The impression left me void of any physical experience as it didn’t matter where I was at the time. It sort of struck me blind, deaf and dumb and numb, so to speak. I would have to ask my wife, but I am not even sure she was with me. I think she was, however because we are almost always together. My wife just now said we were in Colorado, visiting my sister. We were fixing to leave for home. I vaguely remember that now, as she reminded me, but I was sort of in a fog of disbelief.

Q. Do you have any pet peeves?
A. Ignorance and pride of that ignorance. Opinions that don’t coincide with truth I guess.

Q. What is your favorite thing to do in your home town?
A. I would really like to get out of my home town. The economy always stayed far enough ahead of me that I couldn’t afford to get out, but when I have spare time; I go fishing, hunting, and get out of town. I stay home a lot. As I said, I don’t get bored, but can always find things to do. I am the Jack of all trades type, and a maybe a master one Ha Ha, but not too sure of that. I have a lot to learn yet.

Q. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?
A. I have never had anyone that I admired like a celebrity if that is what you are asking. I like everyone and live in the moment, but in that moment try to improve myself for the future. I understand we can bring the past into the present for our benefit. We can also bring the future or potential into the present. I haven’t really thought about that much. I am perfectly happy to be alone, but at the same time, I enjoy eating out with any and all of my friends. I could come closer to telling you who I would not like to have dinner with, but I don ‘t find many of those either. I don’t see one person as more important than another and pompousness doesn’t impress me. In fact when I see humility, I am attracted to it provided it is genuine. It is hard to find that in this insecure, me me me culture today.

Q. What one person was most influential in your life?
A. My parents, My mother and dad, early on, and Jesus when I understood what he did for me.

Q. Who (living or deceased) would you most liked to have met?
A. Jesus, Nostradamas, Edgar Casey, Albert Einstein, the prophets, or men with great minds. The prophets had an insight into the best conditions for human evolution according to eternal principals. We now promote ideas of extinction. Our focus now is so close to our own noses, we do not see the effects that will occur in the future as a result. There is an awful lot of self- centeredness and narrow mindedness today, with no concern for the laws of cause and effect. Not too good for the future of those who do that, but the bible says that “they will think they are doing goodâ€. If human culture could understand that the attitudes and spirits in the human animal void of any universal truths, are the causes of generational deterioration, I think we would have a big turn around in the direction of our culture. These things are the negative, destructive, aspects of being human. It is the hardest thing in the world to correct things that have already been created. It is easier in the long run to do it right in the first place. My parents were adamant about making mistakes and making good choices, because they made us aware that we aren’t the only ones that will suffer for it and there are two possible consequences: Personal effect, and/or cultural effect. We are suffering the cultural effect of individuals making bad choices and the law must run its course after it has once entered material existence, or in otherwords, a transformation from thought to word or deed. We all have great potential to be wiser, we are just awful busy, but if we are going to create chaos, that is what the universe will return to us. We are running the world on emotions while universal law runs it on principal.

Q. Describe what you would think of as a perfect day.
A. You asked me and so here goes. It probably isn’t going to be what you would normally expect, and I don’t intend to offend anyone, but my perfect day would be a day of honesty, a day without ego, a day of truth, peace and quite, and out of this chaos, where you can hear the sound of creation. There is no place left to run anymore where you are really free from the pursuit of people seeking power, and someone trying to tell you what to do all the way down to local government. It seems you cannot even mind your own business and be left alone these days, but many of us in this culture haven’t governed ourselves too well, and this is the result. Peace and order evades us now, but will be forced upon us later if we don’t change. I would like to be away from the hypocrisy of self-designated leaders and people who cannot run their own lives, but want to run mine. But then we get the leaders we elect for favoritism, and personal self interests, without checking their credentials and capitalism without a spiritual conscience is dangerous and destructive. A day of freedom, maybe. I guess would be my answer. We don’t realize how much of it we have given up to cultural peer pressure from a culture with no standards. The shame of it is; the most innocent of all will always pay the price for irresponsibility. That is the law, and that is what Jesus taught me. I’m not sure some got the message, but worst than that, a lot in our culture doesn’t care. Personal irresponsibility is running rampant. Babies and innocent lives are paying the tab, and whether we want to believe it or not, there are rules to live by and if violated, chaos is the result. If we produce chaos, that is what will return to us from the universe. I would like to have a day of the doctrine of life, rather than a doctrine of extinction. It is our freedom to choose our own path, and I would like a day of correct, unselfish, unbiased, critical thinking, not totally influenced by cultural ideas and personal opinions, but rather influenced by the spirit of truth, because that is love. That to me would be a perfect day in my mind. Will it happen? I doubt it, because there are too many of us that believe we are only human. I think that is an excuse and a cop out for ignorance. As I said, I don’t want to offend anyone. These are just my thoughts, and my opinions aren’t any more valid than anyone else’s, except for one thing, and that is if I happen to be correct in my thinking. It takes a lot of power and love to change the course of our current human development, but that would be my greatest desire and that would be the finest day of all, but many have tried and failed, and as much as change would prepare a different future for us, the law still has to run its course from what we have already created. Kind of a long perfect day, Huh?

Q. Tell us a good short, clean joke.
A. A preacher was walking in the woods, when all of a sudden a bear stood up in a berry patch just feet away. The preacher jumped into action and began to run. He was out running the bear until he came to this cliff and couldn’t go any further. He dropped to his knees and said “oh God, help this bear get religion fast!â€. He turned around and in amazement the bear was on his knees and starting to speak. The bear said “ Oh Lord, thank you for this meal of which I am about to receive…â€

Q. Is there anything else you'd like to say to the folks reading this?
A. Well, I don’t know who all would be reading this, and I suspect that most on this forum are very perceptive people. But I realize others might read this just out of curiosity, or to find out what I think, or what kind of person I am, so I will speak to them.
I have found that engraver, craftsman types are pretty sensitive to the laws of creativity, grace, and such. It flows through their fingers into their work, but for anyone else who would be interested in reading it, and one who lacks knowledge of the creative forces, I would speak to them, and give this understanding with love. God has blessed this country beyond our wildest dreams. We take our freedoms for granted and prosperity has opened the doors to frivolous thought, which negates our responsibility over our thoughts, and then gives them priority over the truth. Remember those who have given us their lives to give us the rights we have, for freedom is the noblest cause, and is the thought of God. He gave us free will and a free mind to use accurately or to abuse. I will think carefully and accurately and make my choices wisely. I will use good judgment, for when I do, I am using my creators mind, and not just my own narrow human perception. That is selfishness. If I lie to myself, I will lie to others. When I do that I am violating my creator, and it is the first cause of pollution and a sick mind, because honesty is the cornerstone of integrity. He is the uncorrupted truth not influenced by human opinions and desires. If I act in anger, make sure it is for fairness and justice’s sake only, and not some selfish reason. Wish no man harm, but defend righteousness with my life. If I try to maintain freedom without self-discipline, and self-restraint, I will find a dictatorial government will come in to require order by force. That is the law of the universe…………We cannot do with mans laws, what man refuses to do by choice, except by tyranny. That is why we have wars, so teach our children carefully and correctly, they are humanity’s future. We must think life giving thoughts and not convince ourselves that doctrines of extinction are OK. Lies and liars are non-existent things at their creation, and will be non-existent things in the end. Cultures within cultures will come and go, survive or die, because of their choices, but there is only one culture that will survive time. I would wish that everyone would be a part of that future culture. But then that is an individual choice and many will not make it.
To fight for your own freedom is a noble cause. To fight for another’s is even nobler, and that sacrifice will be honored by God, for “No greater love hath a man, than to give his life for his friendsâ€. Jesus’ words, who was and is the wisest man in the universe and the best friend and councilor I have ever had. He loves us beyond what we understand, and so he told us the truth. It cost him his life, because any time we put the truth on the cross, we put Him there also. Spiritual wisdom is available to us all, if we put it first in our lives. We cannot have freedom without truth and discipline, nor peace and order without wisdom, for that is the true definition of love. We must have the strength and quietness of spirit to listen, and we must really truly want to know the greater truth beyond our own life experience, even if it hurts our agenda. Our life span is just a flicker in eternal time and ancient wisdom. Don’t just settle for what you are. Reach toward what is possible for you to be, because if do, you will no longer just be only human. “The lion (physical life) and the lamb (spiritual life) will lie down together and be led by the hand of a child (Purity, innocence, or no human preconceived biases ) or in other words, that universal mind not influenced by some spiritless human perception. God has blessed America and all of it’s people many times over what we deserve. We should not take that for granted either, but teach others the value of freedom by handling it responsibly. But never the less, even though I might possibly do that myself, there are those who won’t because there are cultures within cultures. That is the world. Foolish men make mistakes and excuse themselves or blame others. “ Forgive them for they no not what they doâ€. Wise men make mistakes and correct themselves, but that does not stop the laws of cause and effect. It is very hard being human, but it is even harder being spiritually human. I mean and wish no harm to anyone, because the holiest law of the universe is the freedom to participate within universal law or outside of it.

I was apprehensive about sending this. I just can’t help myself, this all just flooded out because I feel we are in danger. I guess I love all of God’s creation too much. I asked Liz, my wife what she thought. She couldn’t see any harm in it, and It wasn’t my intention to hit you with a big downer. I hope I haven’t depressed you. Jesus is taking a beating nowadays, and this is my little bit to defend him, as much as I know he doesn’t need my help, but I would rather stand with him than against him. The truth is of its own accord. It does not need me to agree or disagree. These are just my thoughts.

Thank you my friends, for the invitation, interview and caring about knowing me. It is an honor to be amongst you. I know you all care deeply too, and may your passion be as fulfilling in your life as it has been in mine………God bless America………….Ron S

Peace!, through Truth, Wisdom, and Love…………….

Engraver's Block photo courtesy of Glendo Corporation / GRS


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Ron Smith

~ Elite 1000 Member ~
Apr 6, 2007
love back to you, John, but let me say this. You have probably done far more for the art than me. Many many students have passed through your gentle hands. Thanks for your contribution on their behalf and thank you for being my friend..............Ron S


Elite Cafe Member
Feb 16, 2007
Pretoria South Africa
Good day Ron

What I want to say is:

1) You are a true Gentleman.

2) A Great philosopher.

3) A man of values and true moral standards.

4) A Bloody good artist (Judged from the little I have seen, but everything I heard and read about You)

We salute YOU

God bless you and your wife.

Thanks to SAM and Tira making this a reality to share
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Chief Administrator & Benevolent Dictator
Staff member
Nov 6, 2006
Covington, Louisiana
Heck of a great interview, Ron. Thank you for your generous contributions to the craft and to the Cafe. You've certainly done your part to make the engraving world a better place for all. / ~Sam & Abigail


Elite Cafe Member
Nov 13, 2006
Toledo, Ohio
Ron, great interview, refreshing to see some people realize there is something "bigger" than they are.
Thanks for all your posts, insight and all to rest of your contributions to the art of engraving.
Love that pistol capper!
from a humble acorn grew a mighty oak.
God Bless you & yours,


~ Elite 1000 Member ~
Nov 17, 2006
Ron, Thanks for sharing. A few years ago I walked into a room in Reno with a couple of plates in my pockets and you were one of several who was kind enough to look at my scratches and give encouragement and advice. Now look what you've done. I quit my day job and deface metal on a regular basis. Thanks my friend and God bless.


Elite Cafe Member
Apr 20, 2007
SW NewMexico
That was a Great interview. I wish i was able to articulate my thoughts as well.
Amen Ron and thank you!!


Elite Cafe Member
Nov 11, 2006
Fargo, ND
Keep on posting. Good interview. Glad to hear that you're going scratch something again. How rusty did you get?

Ron Smith

~ Elite 1000 Member ~
Apr 6, 2007
Now see! Thats what I get for shooting my mouth off. You guys are making me cry.............but it is joy! It is a pleasure to be with you. Thank you.

Lee, your drive and passion was obvious to me, and you were going to get there on your own. I didn't do much, you already had the spark. I might have fanned it a little bitty bit. And let me remind you. I am among some of the greatest artist in the field, but it is the students and public that will make engraving roar. Educat, educate, educate..........and you do beautiful defacing of steel.

Steve, you don't have to articulate your thoughts, just act them out, and God will make a poet out of you.

Roger, I didn't get out of it altogether, and I had a little bump in the road I had to get over. I lost my thumb a couple years ago although that wasn't the real reason I wasn't engraving much. I was on a bad burnout trip I couldn't shake. Then I lost my thumb, and in a silly sort of way it helped to challenge my ego. I didn't want to think I was through by force. If I am going to quit, it will be under my own power...........Some people call me stubborn.......Who me??? I always contend that that is what makes a man stick to his guns, and it is determination, not stubborness Ha Ha Ha.............If you look at the little miniature engraving block picture, that is the first significant thing I have done recently in my sans thumb era. The 1866 replica was one of the pieces I practiced on to come back, along with any other thing I could find to engrave. I did the miniature just before the little block to see if I could handle the tiny stuff. It was almost like starting over, but getting my head back on straight and getting the drive and endurance, that is another matter.......Getting lazy in my old age, but to answer your question briefly, I surprsed myself and aren't doing too bad. I don't think you ever lose your touch after you finally gain it, but the important thing is My passion lives through you guys, and sharing. We all understand each other do we not? It is hard to stop a force like that.

Thanks all of you guys for your encouragement and Jesus was right again as usual. Give out a little encouragement and it comes back to you seven fold. Thanks so much.


Elite Cafe Member
Dec 22, 2006
Mt. Dora FL
It brings tears to my eyes... Don't stop... Your humour drivers us...
Howbout Left hand???
I'll try it tomorrow when I get to the shop...
At my age my right side may stop and what then...
I can't stop...
Thank you for sharing with us...
JL Seymour
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Shanna Moran

Mar 7, 2007
Midland Texas
Thank you! Mr. Smith

A wonderful interview! For those of us struggling to learn this craft out here in the wilds of West Texas, thank you, thank you for all you do. Critique and encouragement from Ron Smith is more than golden - it is priceless. Thanks Sam, again, for bringing us the forum! Scratch on!!


Nov 8, 2006
Northern Minnesota
Ron. Thank-you for the great and inspiring interview, with your books and helpful suggestions, you have been a real help, Your sharing and time spent in posting is very appreciated, I never miss reading one..

Sincere best wishes.

JJ Roberts

:::Pledge Member:::
::::Pledge Member::::
Nov 10, 2006
Manassas, VA
Wonderful interview. It was good getting together and talking with you at the Blade Show for the 2nd year in a row. Your are a real credit to this forum. Give my best to Liz. Keep up the good work.

JJ Roberts
Manassas, VA


~ Elite 1000 Member ~
::::Pledge Member::::
Jan 31, 2007
Castle Valley, UT in the Red Rock country
Wow! What an interview Ron...just great! I don't remember the origins of the photo you mentioned but am sure the origin of the "rose between two thorns" had to be Wilma. I would never call myself a thorn as I am not that sharp. S


Elite Cafe Member
Dec 31, 2006
Thanks for the interview Ron,
I count you among my favorite engravers of all time. You are not only an excellent designer and engraver, you are a positively fine person. Gil Rudolph told me years ago to give you a call and buy a few of your castings, which I did, and the way you took the time out to talk with me left it's mark. I recommend your books to all who inquire as possibly the best resource for learning scroll design. I believe one of the marks of a truly great craftsman is the willingness to share your knowledge with others and you have done that selflessly. Thanks again Ron.