Do the Twist, I mean, Wiggle

So today I found some inspiration in some nicknacks I had in my work room. This vintage concho was in my mother’s jewelry box and it somehow made its way into my hands. It is simple and it is beautiful, I just wish I had a use for it so I can show it off. 

Its beauty comes from its simplicity and how well the (unknown) artist used the space of the heart. The border and backbone of the scroll are created using a technique called “wiggling” with a flat graver. 

Although I thought I knew how to wiggle, I figured I better see how the pros do it before I scrap a practice piece. A short Google search later and I found this video:

He has a piece clearly in the frame and explains how to wiggle correctly. His video was fairly long (for my short attention span) but very informative. 

He explained that wiggling is “walking the tool” not just scribbling across the metal. You place a side of the tip of the tool “down then side to side.” It kinda reminded me of Chubby Checker doing the Twist. 

Chubby Checker performing “The Twist”. Image retrieved from

The vlogger also mentions some things to watch when wiggle engraving. It is easy to get “out of whack” and if you’re worried about that happening, you should lay some guide lines out to follow. 

In addition to talking about wiggle graving, he instructs us on how to make simple wheat cuts (which is the basis for scrolls and leaves and all that cool jazz). This part really helped me to understand how to fill up a space and basic layout. 

Demonstrating a wheat cut. The wiggle engraving border is evident. Screenshot from video

What else helped me is he used a few different gravers and seemed to critique his work as he went along in the video. This helped me to reflect on my own work and how to improve it. I’ve been pushing the graver too far and making turns too sharp instead of making quick cuts and curves.  

An analysis of the concho shows the artist made the petals and leaves using short cuts and twists. 
So now that I have notes, a few visual aids and an idea, it is time for me to try wiggle graving. This is a change of plans, I was going to work on chasing today (that is using a hammer and graver), but the concho caught my eye and begged for me to try wiggling! 

It is hard to see, but I have a basic outline scratched out.

I’ll update with my attempt in a bit! Has anyone else been struggling with their learning project (either battling procrastination, hard to find sources, or the difficulty in general)? 

Quick update! 

So I did get to try chasing and wiggling today! The former teaching me that I’d need some different equipment to continue that route, mainly a different vise, and the latter is my new love! Why haven’t I tried this sooner?!? 

I’ve been fighting with my graver tips digging into my metal and getting caught. That doesn’t happen with wiggle graving! 

Top piece shows the first wiggle piece and my failed attempt at chasing (it bent the piece and gouged pieces out). Bottom shows a wiggle border.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s