View Full Version : Critique time, please

05-28-2003, 04:11 PM
Hey Boss, I lost your email address. This is a close upon a knife that I have finished for the Bladeshow. Rest of it is in the Display section. Dang, this was my first attempt at relief engraving. I was surprised as to how much more time it took.
You got ideals of what I need to work on sling it out there.

Jim Small
05-28-2003, 06:02 PM

I'm impressed......
You should have seen my first relief engraving....
Look forward to seeing you and your knives in Atlanta..

Tim Adlam
05-28-2003, 06:52 PM

I appreciate the fact that you're willing to go "under the gun"....:eek:

Just kidding though...;)

The design is good. Nice balance of positive (scroll) pattern, against the negative (black background) space.

You're getting a sense of leaf formation.
I feel that you've been doing some homework.

One problem area I see is maintaining a smooth backspine or "main line" to the scroll pattern.
This is a key element to the perceived "flow" of any floral pattern.
That would be my recommended area for improvement.
It's relative to tool control...and considering that you've only been at this for a short time...#### good job!

Quite frankly...this is better work than some I've seen from "known" engravers. And that's an honest fact.

Your "eye" for what looks good is evident with the pattern style chosen.

Personally, I'd like to see this design repeated in a years time just to see how you interpret it then.

Like Jim said, we all had, and will have "baby steps" whenever we explore new ground.

Remember that these "patterns" really don't exist in nature. They're simply foliate designs that create a texture,
fill a space, direct the eye and add a sense of emotion to the piece they are applied to.

The great challenge is to balance all of the elements of object and embellishment, so they work in harmony.

That's the hard part that we all struggle with...but the most rewarding when you can pull it off!

Thanks for asking...:)


05-28-2003, 08:25 PM
I have to agree with Tim, I think he summed things up pretty good.

The first thing I noticed was the problem you are having keeping a good smooth curve to the back spine of your scrolls.

The back round area looks pretty good.

Its darn good for your first attempt at relief engraving.

I would like to know the set up your using. engraving block, tools?

believe it or not some of the best practice an engraver can do is with a pencil and paper. its a good idea to spend as much time drawing as you do cutting.

Remember Flow & Balance :)

Keep at it Jerry your off to a really good start:D

BTW thats an awesome knife too.

Jim Small
05-28-2003, 09:20 PM

I didn't want you think that I was cutting you short on the first post. I checked in just before taking my wife out.

Tim and Darren hit it right on the head.
The only way to explain it is to tell you what and how I did it. First off.....I didn't put engraving on my knives for at least a year and a half after I started learning to engrave. I made myself engrave 1 square inch a day for that period of time....engraving on everything. I don't know how long you've been engraving, but you've done a good job on your first attempt at relief work. Like Tim I've seen worse engraving by some of the more publicized engravers.

I hope you paid attention to what Darren said......" the best engraving an engraver can do is with a pencil". I have saved every engraving design I have ever drawn and kept them in a book folder.....I have thousands. I will be the first to admitt that composition is everything....learning layout....designing your work in closed triangles, squares, rectangles and even in flowing tear drops. There arn't any engravers around here or at least back in most of what I learned was on my own. I have thousands of dollars in liabrary material. Buy books, every one that has engraving.

It took me a while to learn that just about every thing is an engraving design. That statement reminds me of a story. Leon Pittman ( Worm Knives) and I were coming out of the back door of the Hilton Hotel in New York some years back. We were attending the New York Knife Show. We both had had a few drinks....Leon, more than me. We steped out the back door and Leon paused and looked at the building across the street....and gazed from top to bottom....grabbed me by the arm and said in a slured Georgia drawl " Jim that building is fully engraved". By #### he was right....all kinds of fancy stuff from top to bottom. I have never forgotten his response....and even though he was a little under the gin....he got the whole picture. Bottom line, you've got to get the whole picture...put it down on paper and then make the jump to steel.

One thing you've got is the desire and the apitude to learn....and you have a source to get question answered. That's why this forum is here. Next question.....when are we going to see more?

We really appreciate the post....

05-28-2003, 11:45 PM
Hey guys, I been married twice. Yall cant hurt my feelings. heheheh
Yeah, tool control is a booger for me yet. It is getting better but that means I got to go slower in a sense. Drawing and engravng that bully I got 60 hours in on that. It should speed up with time.
I am honeslty open this is really new to me and I take it to heart what yall are saying. I look at this forum everyday to pick up on anything I can. I been picking up a few books along. I always wished I had taken an art class of some type, so I am learning how to draw while learning how to engrave.
I took Lee's class last fall.
Thanks guys.

Gabe Newell
05-28-2003, 11:51 PM
My main criticism is that it's not for sale before Blade.

ron p. nott
05-29-2003, 08:05 AM
Hi Jerry .. I cant add any more to what the other guys have said .. your work looks good for a beginner it takes alot of praticing . I will be at the Blade Show i will be with Robert Eggerling at his table... If you got time we can go to GRS table and i will try to show you some ideas ..Also i have some molds for you so you can copy some of my ideas... See you at the Blade Show..

05-29-2003, 10:22 AM
By golly for an ol' boy from Arkansas you learned pretty good from a farm boy from Idaho. You're making me look good man. I feel like a proud papa except my kids are better looking. I will amen what has been said Tim, Ron, Darren and the others. With your gravermax you may try turning it down to 1000-1400 strokes for your primary cuts. That will help if you feel like it sometimes wants to run away from you. The elbows and flats that you have are so slight most of them could be cleaned up and corrected with an additional cut, a sign of how well you have cut this. I may have to go to one of these knife shows someday. Books are a very good study source provided you realize that not all engraving is good. Pick out what catches your eye and try to figure out why. Your concerns about art are a common lament that's why I'm teaching a design and layout class now in addition to the basic class. Keep scratching my friend.:D

Tim Adlam
05-29-2003, 05:07 PM

I want to add...that the progress you're making is a testament to your teacher.

Well done Lee, and thanks for bringing another member to the cult... 0] mean...ranks!...:cool:

I wouldn't worry about the "speed" issue a lot. As you become more and more familiar with the pattern style you like, the more comfortable and confident you'll be with design and cutting.

Take your design for instance. If this is a style that appeals to you...and I'd say it compliments your knives well...then use variations of this style in your design and cutting until you make it your own.

The repetition will reinforce your cutting movements, just as it will certainly reduce the time involved.

If you look at Henry Franks work as an example.
He could probably cut his scroll in his sleep!

...Anyways, just keep at it like a bulldog in heat!

See ya soon in Atlanta...then we can perform a proper initiation rite...:evil ...;)


Joe Mason
05-29-2003, 06:42 PM
Ditto on what evereyone else has said. To me that main scroll is one of the most important cuts. After cutting it most of the time they can be trimed and improved. Keep up the good work. Look forward to seeing you in Atlanta......

Joe Mason

05-29-2003, 09:51 PM
Fisk, I'm not qualified to critique anyone, but I know what I like and don't like, and I like your work. Thanks for sharing.

05-29-2003, 11:37 PM
Thanks guys.
Yeah, I was wondering about doing the pattern over and over or slight varations of it. I kept at the wheat border one till it got better and got a bit faster too. That will help. I will also try to vary the speed down that makes sense.
Yeah, Lee is good teacher. He pounded for some weird reason, over and over sharpen the tool proper. Uh Huh, I got that one figured out now. Glad he kept pounding that too.
I figured like the making of the knives speed comes later and only by degrees and then only to a limit. Thats fine.
Thanks Gabe and Rocker.
Joe, Ron and Tim, I will try and get by to see yall. That is one busy show for me. It is my worst show to get around for personal stuff but i would love to try and see yall and your work.
Thanks for hanging in there with me Lee.

By the way, the ABS is sponsering its first world finals cutting contest. We had to have first and second place awards so I went through Glendo and got two hand engraved belt buckles. Push it where i can guys. Helps all of us. Manny and Diane are engraving them. Blade is doing a spot on the buckles.

05-30-2003, 09:31 AM
:( It mattereth not what level one is at, the main temptation is trying to go too fast. I suffer from it just like the rest. Speed kills. I have found that in background relief, if the relief is deep and I want a smooth background with exhibition quality stippling I may spend as much as 1/3 of my time on that alone. The design is pleasing and Tim's suggestion of mastering that one with some variations is stunningly brilliant. (good flattery eh?) You will absolutely over time get faster. Just get it right before you get it fast.:D :D

Tim Adlam
05-30-2003, 11:36 AM
Aw shucks...some call that an epiphany...around here we call's it a brain-fart!...:p

You've got that right about the background removal time.
This is one of the most neglected parts of an engraving design, mainly because of the sheer drudgery!

It can be compared to plowing a field.

What helped me was an opportunity to closely examine a 1903 Winchester engraved by the great Rudolph Kornbrath.
The background work to his fine relief engraving was as dead-smooth and level as can be. It was evident that he used scrapers to do the final leveling. It just blew me away!

I realized then why he was regarded as a master in his field. His attention to detail was amazing. Nothing was missed.

This inspired me to place equal attention on the background areas.

It's still a chore, but it can also "make" the engraving.