Critique Request Cutting Alfano's sample

Bunic

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I 'stole' this online, transferred it to a plate and had the best time cutting it last night! I only did one pass of cutting out the background. I'll do the horizontal cut this weekend.

Sam, it looks nothing like yours! Boy, I wish!!!

CC welcomed.
 

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pilkguns

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Looks really good, you might try recutting that main scroll's backbone a little deeper, then cross hatch the leaves coming from it up against that deeper backbone.
 

pilkguns

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Actually, there are lot of the leaves, that look like they could do with a recut, either to make them more pronounced, both from the background and the internal shade lines. Also quite a number of the leave external shape lines don't quite meet each other, so deepening the lines and connecting the pieces would occur at the same time.

Don't look at your engraving as a finished piece. Now is the time that you go over it and look fo areas to improve, go back fix them, ink at all over again, look it over again, and probably there will still be areas that will need attention the third time. I can remember Sam beating this in my head when he was critiquing my work 25 years ago.
 
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Peter_M

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Mike,

When I first seen it I thought that looked pretty nice, then I read Scott's reply to you and I think I can see what he is talking about.
Both of you a Tank you for letting me learn as well.

Peter
 

Sam

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Good advice from Scott and a good practice you've done. In addition to Scott's suggestions, I'd say that the outlining of the leaves and scrolls needs a bit more depth and rolling of the graver to produce the sparkle and character we're all striving for. There's a tutorial on this on iGraver.com

I don't know how much polishing you've done after the engraving, but try not to do any except for a very slight deburring with very fine (2000 grit) paper. Polishing can really take the life out of engraving.

You're well on your way. Keep up the good work :beerchug:
 

Brian Hochstrat

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Mike, It appears that the scrolls backbone is not one line, the segment from the border line goes up into an outer leaf, and the top segment forms the scroll head which is incorrect. The backbone should actually start from the borderline and be one continuous line, ending in the scroll head. That gives the framework to add the inner and outer leaves to. But overall you are advancing well. Keep making metal chips. Regards. Brian
 

Bunic

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All - Tnx! for responding with C&C! It's what gives me the outside view that Ron suggests I need.

Scott,
Ron keeps telling me that I need to cut deeper - I keep lowering my hand. (Ron says to me, "You're not concentrating!") I hadn't noticed the 'disconnect' between leaves until you mentioned it. It would actually be fun to go back and recut some of the 'lighter' lines. Tnx!

Peter,
These two forums (and the Big Kahuna!) are literal Gold Mines for me (at least). Tnx!

Sam,
Most of my cutting has been on trying to perfect the spine. (Ron is relentless!) So I've just started trying the beveling cut. Your Tutorial was most helpful. Yep! I polished it with 400-600 grit and that diminished the depth considerably. Tnx! for taking the time to look and comment!

Brian,
You guys are tough to get anything past! I didn't notice the interrupted line until I looked after your comment! I don't know why I would have stopped. ?? Tnx!

Chris,
I'd love your help with shading - yours is treeemendous. BUT... do I have to come to West-by-God for the training? Tnx!
 

Christopher Malouf

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Hi Mike,

The shading that I do took me well over a year to figure out and develop. It is always evolving as I experiment with minor variations at this point. Lines are not placed indiscriminately or randomly. Just like in Sam's outstanding shading ... I try to place and cut for maximum effect.

Great shading can make up the greatest percentage of time for the overall piece. This is why your base structure and design must be right. You can practice your shading on poorly structured designs, but when it comes down to it and you are cutting the real thing (something other than practice) - attempting to execute great shading on a poor design is ultimately not time well spent. While a structurally problematic design can sometimes be saved with great shading, every excellent design always deserves the very best shading you can give it.

I would be more than happy to show you what I have learned. I'm always excited to help someone who exhibits your determination and zeal.

....and no, you don't have come all the way to West Virginia .... especially if your car can not outrun one of these (you had to have seen the movie) :). E-mail will work just fine as several illustrations and tips will probably get the light bulb to turn on over your head. Maybe well have an opportunity to meet up at Ron's when I'm passing through that way. From there, it will be hours and hours of practice. Ultimately, you still must find your own road and travel it but the artist in you already knows that.

 
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Marcus Hunt

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Mike, try to think of your graver as a quill or fountain pen. Just as with penmanship the graver's cut starts fine and gets progressively wider. This is what gives interest to scrollwork. A monotonous line as drawn with a ball point pen is boring and unfortunately this is what is shown here. However, there is hope (lol) you have one beautiful cut on the right hand leaf and tendril on top of the scroll. You just need to cut with more confidence.

Chris is so right about building the right foundation. I said this in reply to your last posting and I would recommend you actually do this as it will help you in the long run, "take a step back and get the basic cuts under your belt first". I know it's boring and repetitive but I spent weeks doing nothing but basic cuts before moving onto anything anywhere near scrolls when I first started engraving. When you know exactly what cuts doing certain movements with the graver will achieve then you move on to the next step.

When you don't even have to think about the graver and the tool becomes an extension of your hand that reproduces your will you'll have become an engraver. Unfortunately, there is no short cutting the crap bits in between. They have to be done and every engraver worth his/her salt has been there and paid their dues.

What makes Sam's scrolls so beautiful is his fantastic attention to detail and especially the shading. But getting to this level didn't happen overnight and he had Lynton McKenzie to guide him in his early days.

Try to picture in your mind's eye what you are trying to achieve with your shading. It must help to form a shape and give definition. What it's not is just a lot of lines cobbled together without rhyme or reason. Study shading and notice how it moves from light to dark and then try to replicate this with an understanding of what the final result is trying to achieve.

Above all though, build that firm foundation and everything will follow naturally.
 
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Bunic

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Chris,

I will take you up on the shading tutoring via email. Ron still has me drawing and cutting spines. He still sees flats and such and points them out to me too frequently. I do study lots of shading and beveling cuts to try to understand how they work and how to properly cut them.

Is that your truck with the little 'side-keg?' I don't know what movie you mention. Expect an email from me today. Tnx!


Marcus,
As I mentioned to Chris, I am working to get the foundation just right. Having the knowledge, experience and confidence to do it right will take a chunk of time, I know. I have worked at other worthwhile (and some silly!) skills in life and know that the good ones don't just fall from the sky!

Your observations and suggestions are really important to me. I really admire Sam's and others' seemingly perfect cuts and shade lines! I don't want to pester folks with my newbie errors and questions, but everyone has been so helpful! Tnx!
 

Sam

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I don't want to pester folks with my newbie errors and questions, but everyone has been so helpful! Tnx!

You're not pestering at all. The reason this forum exists is to provide a helping hand to others. I wish I could comment on every thread and post but I simply can't. Fortunately there are plenty of other members with better suggestions and ideas than me so it all works out in the end. Like Chris, I admire your tenacity and determination.
 

Marcus Hunt

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Mike, looking back at my posting I get the feeling it may have seemed a little negative. It wasn't meant to be. You are heading along the engraving track well. I can see very well where you're headed but if you just slow up a little and get that foundation under your belt, it'll pay dividends in the long run. I'm sure Chris' kind offer will help you with this.

Reading your blog I can see your eagerness but I seriously think you are misjudging and being unfair on your taking a formal class. Your time would not be "wasted". I hope this doesn't come across the wrong way but when you visit your mentor Ron, are you sitting beside him for 8 hours a day? If you are, can he afford to keep downing tools to answer your questions and show and guide you as t o what you should be doing? From what I gather, you may spend a couple of hours here and there with him and he does his best to advise and guide you in his spare time. You then go away (I don't know what your traveling time to see him is but any time spent driving in a car is "wasted" time, say you make 10 x 30 minute journeys, that equals five dead hours) and without any guidance during your practice hours try to reproduce what you've been told to do. You might not have interpreted your instructions correctly so end up spending hours doing something incorrectly when an instructor could've put you right within minutes.

So, okay you then put together a 'week long' schedule to get some semblance of order into the process. But each of the parts are barely touching on the subject. You may grasp the basics of precious metal inlay and overlay in a day or so but you could spend a week on it and not fully cover the subject and it's idiosyncrasies. What happens when you get into the real world and find that a nice simple damascene will not adhere, for example? Is it you, your undercutting, your tools or the steel you're working on and do you know how to establish which is the cause? Likewise with bulino, you'd barely scratch the surface in a week (excuse the pun).

You have also given yourself practice times that don't add up into a 5 day week; 5x24=120 and you can't engrave for 24 hours a day so these practice times are going to over extend your week that you've put aside. When you attend any class you will not leave totally proficient in the subject but you will leave with enough knowledge to become proficient with practice. I can guarantee you will not be able to keep to your scheduled practice hours in a week.

It's only my opinion but your schedule is not focused enough. It's a "jack of all trades, master of none schedule". You will not cover enough material deeply enough to make taking a week off work worthwhile. Focus on one subject and concentrate on that, then move on to the next. Flitting from one thing to another will only result in you chasing your own tail.

Not to detract from Sam's classes (if he's the guy you want to study with stick with it) but there are other excellent intermediate/advanced instructors out there who's classes you could take. The 40 hours you'll spend with them will help your engraving career no end. But there again, your schedule calls for a minimum of 3 classes that I can see (lol)! Unfortunately classes aren't cheap but pitted against virtually every other thing you can take classes for in life, they do offer excellent value. Imagine taking a week long golfing course, that'd cost a fortune and it's doubtful you could ever earn any money back from that. If you want to be a Master Engraver, classes are an investment in your career path and should not be looked on in purely financial and time terms.

I also admire your tenacity and determination, just remember to sprinkle it with a generous dose of realism and you'll be on the right track. Good luck on your journey.
 
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Bunic

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Sam,

Tnx! again for looking and giving positive CC, not only to me, but so many others!


Marcus,
ALL of your points are very 'realistic' and well taken. I guess that I am too eager to get to my hoped-for destination that I get a little carried away with how to get there. Especially when I have Ron in my backyard and his willingness to just pour his experience into a very empty vessel.

Ron does his best at reining me in and demanding my artwork and basic scrolls are right before we move onward. (Just yesterday he had me drawing and cutting simple spines on practice plates. Then he'd check them out with his optivisor. Although I did hear an infrequent and faint, "Not bad," I also heard quite a few, "You're not concentrating!")

Again, I really appreciate hearing valid points on my inexperienced jolts toward mastering this craft! Please don't give up on me! I am re-evaluating my curriculum with Ron, the big Kahuna. Tnx!
 

Marcus Hunt

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LOL Mike! I can see you're like a kid let loose in a candy store. Just steady yourself up a bit and concentrate on one thing at a time. As a rough guide I'd say you need to practice the following in order of priority:

1) your basic cuts. This shouldn't take too long and you are already nearly there but not quite. Practice until the shape and size of cut just appears at the end of the graver. Getting the shape and depth of cut you want needs to be automatic by the time you reach Master level. Repetition will develop your confidence. Don't be frightened to make mistakes; better to do that at the practice plate level so you can learn from them. A tentative approach will result in spidery cuts. Learn to be bold and cut with confidence.

2) your scrolls spines. Practice spiraling your cuts in both directions. The spines need to be fluid and black and even all the way round. Don't flange (roll the graver) cut and keep the graver upright.

3) stick with the English style of scroll to begin with as it's simpler (but this doesn't mean easy). With the larger form, any mistakes and irregularities will stand out so they will help you develop an understanding of how and where to take your scrollwork in the future. You'll also have to learn to cut away background smoothly and regularly.

4) look at all sorts of examples of scrollwork and see how the individual engravers shade. Everyone is slightly different. Some will use cross hatching and others won't. But all shading cuts are there for a reason. It's this which keeps/makes scrollwork interesting and ultimately aesthetically pleasing.

5) continue to draw and shade your drawings. Use a very fine pencil and keep the point sharp (a .35 mm mechanical pencil is excellent). Look at how light falls on the leaves and flowers of a plant and try to replicate this. Scroll work is just a stylised form of foliage.

6) continue to show us your work no matter how small or trivial something may be or seem to you. It's often the fine tuning of the little things which can make an enormous difference to the appearance of your engraving. Even if it's only a row of basic teardrop cuts, leaves or tendrils that you want critiqued, some experienced engraver in the Café can guide or help you out.

I hope this simple 6 point plan can help you get some focus. If you steady down to this first the other stuff like gold inlay, etc will follow. But it's no good being able to inlay perfectly if you can't cut a decent scroll or letter. To be a FEGA Master you have to be able to do it all but that doesn't mean learning everything there is to know about engraving simultaneously. Slow down and take one stage at a time and you'll get there; you obviously are enthusiastic and want it enough. But don't fall into the trap of cutting a few good scrolls and thinking that you've cracked it. It takes hundreds of hours of repetition and, unlike a lot of other forms of engraving, you are (or will be) working on tough or hard metals at times and on awkwardly shaped pieces as well. All is not flat and smooth going in the gun engraver's world.
 
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Bunic

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Marcus,

This is totally amazing! I've seen your work... inspiring! (I esp. love your bulino!) I notice the number of comments you've made here - over 900! And then I read the 2-3 extensive comments you've posted on my flegling work and cannot image why you and others even notice it, much less take the time to respond with meaningful, well-thought explanations and suggestions!

To say I am grateful is not sufficient. So I'll try to do better, and that would be to assiduously ply your 6 steps and then show you my progress.

And like the famous engraver, Christopher Columbus, I'll prove the world is not round! ("All is not flat and smooth going in the gun engraver's world." Marcus Hunt)

Tnx!
 

Christopher Malouf

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Mike, that was from the movie "Wrong Turn"... it finally made the $2.99 DVD rack at Wally's World of Imports - LOL ... I think they were trying to pick on West Virginia when they were filming that movie in Tennessee .... go figure. ;)

I asked Ron to pass on a message.

Give me call or shoot me an e-mail. Haven't got one yet.

Marcus left out step #7 .... which is "Repeat steps 1 through 6". You need to put yourself in an infinite loop for a little while. Actually ... after you've been doing this for a few years, you'll see most of this is an infinite loop. :) Oh the materials, size and shapes may change but the process is essentially the same.

Chris
 
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Marcus Hunt

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Marcus left out step #7 .... which is "Repeat steps 1 through 6". You need to put yourself in an infinite loop for a little while. Actually ... after you've been doing this for a few years, you'll see most of this is an infinite loop. :) Oh the materials, size and shapes may change but the process is essentially the same.

Excellent advice Chris, sorry I overlooked this very important step. Repetition is definitely the way to go.

With regards to Step 4, shading, I don't know if you already have it but there is a fantastic book which demonstrates what I am saying about shading forming leaves, etc. It's called 'Historic Ornament A Pictorial Archive' by C. B. Griesbach (published by Dover, ISBN 0-486-23215-8).
 
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JJ Roberts

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Newie Advice

Good advice by all,newies your very fortunate to have all this information on Sam & Steve's forums. Take advantage of all this advice & knowledge,I wish it was there when I needed it. J.J.Roberts
 

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