Critique Request My Spruced up CCW

Bunic

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Camp Hill, PA
I've been working on this in my spare time since this summer. It has a "2nd Amendment" theme with the flag, 13 inlaid stars, inlaid borders, lettering, scroll work, crossed olive branches on the muzzle, and a small bulino eagle. I also did the bluing.

Tnx!
 

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Bunic

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Location
Camp Hill, PA
Tnx! for taking the time to look and comment. I really appreciate it. This was a very fun endeavor. I learned a lot to say the least. The help and insights from this group were most helpful!
 

Andrew Biggs

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Nov 10, 2006
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Location
Christchurch, New Zealand
Hi Mike

You wanted some critique and here it is. I went to your blog and looked at some of the better pictures. I'm really sorry but you may not like what I am about to tell you. Read it through to the end and really listen to my last six points.

The cuts: All the usual lumps bumps and everything else that could possibly go wrong has gone wrong. Even the bulino work is very heavy handed is more like industrial stippling.

The design: There is so much wrong with it that I can't really advise you where to improve it. The leaves have no shape or form and are just a mess. The scroll work is all wrong and all over the place. The shading makes no sense. I could go on and on but won't as it will achieve nothing and I think you may be starting to get the idea of what I'm saying. It's a bit of a disaster............... but I have seen worse so there is some consolation there :)

I read on your blog that since Ron has passed away that you are lacking a bit of direction. so here is what I suggest.

1. Stop whatever you are doing right now. You are going from bad to worse at the moment.

2. Get hold of 50 to 100 two to three inch square mild steel practice plates. In the first 50, fill them with straight lines 1mm-2mm apart and cut them until you can cut a straight line of a uniform depth. The second lot of plates fill with circles ranging from 3mm to 12mm..........and keep cutting till you can cut a perfect circle day after day after day after day. If this takes 100 plates then so be it. It's soul destroying doing this but you need this kind of practice. Then go and buy another 50 plates and start cutting scroll backbones only till they are perfect. Just keep doing this till all lumps and bumps have completely gone from your work.

3. Drawing: Go back to Ron's book. Learn to draw a scroll backbone and keep drawing it till they flow off the end of your pencil. Do not under any circumstances use a computer for this. Just fill pages of paper till you can do it in your sleep. Then take a look at the way Ron draws leaves. Draw one leaf at a time till you have memorized that leaf and dream about it. Do this with about 3 kinds of leaf.

4. Then combine the scroll backbone and a leaf in ONE SCROLL. Don't try anything complicated like 2 scrolls. Draw until you drop always using reference material like Ron's book or British Gun Engraving by Douglas Tate. Stick to very basic layouts like a running border type design. Do not under any circumstances try anything fancy at this stage. Stick to the mundane and learn and understand exactly what you are doing.!!!!

5. Once you can draw one scroll filled with leaf............then cut it because all the combined cutting practice will kick in.

6. Do not touch another gun with a graver until you can do all of the above!!!

I know none of that is what you wanted to hear and I do understand your determination and really wanting to do this engraving thing. But you need to get back to absolute basics to get any better. Just follow what I have said from 1 to 6 and your work will vastly improve over the next few months............or it will be time to down tools and take up golf. :)

Cheers
Andrew
 

Bunic

Elite Cafe Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2009
Messages
400
Location
Camp Hill, PA
Andrew,

Tnx! Although I am excited about working on and completing my first gun, this is what I need to hear. It's why I posted the LCP. I surely don't expect 'attaboys' from this forum. I really appreciate you taking the time and energy to really look into my efforts and give the Critique I asked for.

Again, Tnx! I will work on your (6) suggestions.
 

Marcus Hunt

~ Elite 1000 Member ~
Joined
Nov 9, 2006
Messages
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Location
The Oxfordshire Cotswolds, England
Hi Mike, I'd just like to add to Andrew's excellent observations and advice if I may?

Firstly, I'd like to ask you how hard the steel was that you were working on? For many years I've commented on how lousy some American engravers are at cutting scrolls. That was until I discovered that they were cutting incredibly tough steel that no European engraver in his right mind would cut!!! You guys don't even soften the gun first! So if Ruger's reputation for hardness is anything to go by you may have bitten off more than you could chew. That is no excuse for poor design however.

The good things I can see are the lettering on top of the slide which, for a rookie, is not half bad! Well done.

Also, the gold line on the right side of the pistol is also a reasonably good attempt. But it all goes a bit pear shaped on the left side doesn't it? The line is all over the place and a join in the wire can also be seen. This is totally unacceptable so a lot more practice is needed. The reason the join can be seen is that your undercutting isn't working in that area. If the undercutting is right the wire will hammer weld at each join. After hammering your inlay with a brass or copper punch always burnish. This will make the wire lift out if the undercutting is wrong, but be careful not to burnish too hard or you'll stretch the wire. With tough steel even the pro's can struggle but part of being a professional is knowing how to get yourself out of the sh*t when it happens.

On the left side you've kept the design relatively simple (almost English style), well done. But you spoiled it by filling in awkward gaps with huge, disproportionate leaves. YUK! and I don't quite know what you had in mind with the scroll next to the P but something's not right.

On the right hand side of the slide it looks like you had a bit of a brain storm. Remember, it's not compulsory to always interweave scrolls. It would have looked so much better if you'd kept it simple. Another case of running before you can walk I think. I've told you before, master the English style of scrolls first and then, and only then, when you've done this you'll understand how and when you can do some interweaving. It's a natural progression but you have to fully understand the basics before you move on. This is why if you were a proper apprentice your gaffer would hold you back until this had fully sunk in. Yes, it might be boring but if you truly wish to become a professional firearms engraver you must discipline yourself to do this, please!

Andrew is right about the bulino. This motif would look much better cut banknote style i.e. with lines. Heck, you have a prime example with every $ bill you handle! LOL. We all develop our own styles but this will not work for you in the long run. It's always best to outline your individual elements and work to the outline (a bit like a tattooist does). But remember to keep you outlines light or it will look dreadful.

Enough to be going on with I think. With firearms you need to remember that your prep work is as important as the engraving. I'm lucky, my prep is done for me but all prep is not equal. A poorly prepared gun or rifle never cuts as well as a properly polished one.

I do like the touch you've done around the muzzle. I hope this helps.
 
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Andrew Biggs

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Nov 10, 2006
Messages
5,016
Location
Christchurch, New Zealand
Hi Mike

There are two ways of learning to do something.

The first is that some people have a natural ability to pick up tools (gravers, musical instruments, brushes) and with a bit of basic instruction and a bit of fiddling about they seem to be able to make rapid progress. There is something in their DNA that allows them to operate this way.

Then there is the rest of us. :)

When I was working in the Canvas shop in the army, my boss showed me how to sew up a mine marker. Then I had to sew 3000 of them!!!!. It was long, tedious and soul destroying work. The sheer repetitiveness of it nearly drove me to drink as it was that boring. But..................by the end of it I was pretty damn good on the sewing machine and I went on to bigger and better projects and the work became a lot more enjoyable.

When I did my sign apprenticeship a similar thing happened. I had to stand day after day at the sign wall and practice my brush strokes as they are hard to master. Then I had to practice how to combine those strokes to form letters. Then I had to repeat it all over again and learn how to form the letters into words. It seemed to take forever. It was slow, boring, repetitive and utterly mind numbing. But ...................one day the boss came over and got me to do a real job that involved a finished sign that had to be completed that day. After that the work got better and far more enjoyable to the point I could be trusted to start and complete work unsupervised.

Some have natural ability and some learn by rote.

Cheers
Andrew
 
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Bunic

Elite Cafe Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2009
Messages
400
Location
Camp Hill, PA
Marcus and Andrew,

WOW! Thanks for the very instructive tips.

I work fulltime at a day-job but draw everyday at lunch for the whole hour. So my drawing pratice is slow. But I also spend a lot of time downloading and studying all the great stuff others post here and on the Lindsay forum.

Again, Your comments are greatly appreciated and I am working t 'absorbing' them into my drawing, layout and cutting. I have something to submit this week. Tnx!
 

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