SCI 50th Anniversary Project

Mike Dubber

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I showed the first side of the SCI Colt earlier. This project is a rifle and handgun set being created by myself and John Bolliger for the January 2022 Safari International show in Las Vegas. The Colt and Custom 300 Win Mag will be presented as a cased set for the 50th Anniversary Auction. I have spent some serious bench time at the rifle over the past months, and last week I got back to the right panel of the colt. The theme of both firearms will be dedicated to the SCI 50th and American big game species.

The Bighorn Sheep was a challenge - very small and the detail is so fine. I used both 24k and Fine Sliver on his body and muzzle. Then there's the issue of making a sheep look like a sheep with those crazy facial contours, eyes, and ears. He's a strange-looking beast. I had the opportunity to watch them closely when we lived in Estes Park, Colorado. They shared our parking lot with elk and deer during the late winter months. What's most impressive is the physical size and muscular build of the rams - the view from 10 feet is much different than watching them on a mountainside.

The elk on the opposite side was somewhat less challenging - except for all those horns!
 

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Mike Dubber

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I agree with Roger, the thing about engraving at the highest level is that one must necessarily slow down. I learned that from Winston Churchill during his Grand Masters sessions. The Italian Creative Arts engravers, Ron Smith, Phil Griffnee, and Alain Lovenberg were very much the same. They all emphasized the point by word and by example that the artistic engraving process took exceptional time and patience. I'm not sure I completely understood what they were saying until years after their classes when I finally decided to bear down and try to appreciate the level of art they were showing us. I may never be able to engrave at the personal level of any of those Masters, but I do understand the time and dedication it takes.

I also understand that it's difficult to dedicate your own time and patience to perfection during the early years - time is money and one must make a living. There is more fine art engraving being done today than ever in history. The examples are before you, study and learn. I developed my byline while I was doing just that - "if it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you."
 

FANCYGUN

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You correct Mike. We spent many enjoysble hours side by side in Alains Grand Masters class. Time was never a factor other than zoning out and engraving the best you can to visually achieving the engraved image you want. Once you get into it it becomes hypnotic and you just focus on what you are trying to express and time is not relevant anymore. It’s sort of refreshing
 

Mike Dubber

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Every one of the Grand Masters Classes benefitted me in many different ways. The first was the influence of the Master - each of their presentations was different and I learned so much.

The second and even more gratifying part of those programs was the rare opportunity to sit and work beside my friends and associate engravers. Marty, we had been friends and artists for some 30 years before we actually sat and worked together in an engraving studio - it was the same in every GM Class. It wasn't competitive, it wasn't intimidating, and fortunately, it wasn't another social gathering.
 

Mike Dubber

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Yes, attitude and altitude. I'll wait until after the gun is blued to do the final detail touch-up - everything changes after the final finish is applied.

Alan, you started the conversation about the effect(s) of bluing on precious metals. The fact is that they do change in the process, ever so slightly sometimes, but there are striking differences in how the finished engraving might look after the final finish. Pure metals like fine silver, gold, and platinum often come out looking brighter than before bluing. Mixed/alloyed metals are often tarnished by the process - as defined cryptically by the Turnbull folks, it's difficult to predict.

My description in the first paragraph is more involved with the overall appearance of the gun after bluing (whatever the process). You sit at your bench for enumerable hours doing engraving and inlay while looking at white metal. When it is returned to you by the bluer the overall appearance of what you've been looking at for all those hours is striking; shocking! If you add tarnish or other visual degradation to the inlay work, it's even more shocking - now you have recovery work to do.
 
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Gun Nut

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Sir, your engraving and that of so many others continue to inspire me. I started engraving somewhat late in life but do enjoy it so much. Thanks for sharing your work.
 

Mike Dubber

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Thanks for the comment. There are many engravers and engraving students who start to appreciate our art late in life - we understand the reasons for that. No matter when you start, engraving can be the ideal new challenge that keeps you young and learning.
 

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