Hand Engraving

Adventures of ECMP 355 (Summary of Learning)

I’m not sure one post or one video can explain all that I’ve learned this semester, but I worked with Brooke Stewart on creating a video or two where we tried to fully summarize what we have learned on this journey that is ECMP 355! Rural internet limitations means that we had to break up our summary of learning into two parts: the first being a Powtoon video where we go on a journey about learning about technology and the second, we reflect on a few things we couldn’t include in our Powtoon including coding, cyberbullying and a topic that is special to us- technology and rural schools.


I sincerely hope you enjoy our videos as much as I enjoyed creating them with my friend and neighbor Brooke!


Learning Project Summary

When this semester began and I learned that I had to work on a “learning project,” I was doubtful. I figured it would be a drain on my time and that I would hate it. I was wrong. I enjoyed learning about engraving and I’d love to learn more about it. There are three day courses I can take from professionals to hone my technique. I am saving up for one of those courses!

If I had to describe my learning project journey in one word, it would be “roller-coaster.” On my trip from Calgary, I was sky-high with my expectations and how much I was going to accomplish with this project this semester. To say that I overestimated myself- is an understatement. I learned lots about engraving, more about myself and tons about online learning.

To kick off my list of things learned, I will start with organization. It is important to organize your research materials as sources can be scattered across the internet with various authors/contributors and information can differ depending on the source. I have an “engraving” folder on Chrome and my Safari browser on my iPhone. This really helped me stay organized. I also utilized Evernote to write notes, save websites and save pictures for inspiration. It even has a handy-dandy Chrome extension to help you!

Access to certain pieces of information may be limited and information is not always free. Sometimes you have to buy or rent a digital copy of a video, pay for a membership or invest in private lessons via video conference or phone call. This isn’t new to me, private lessons via phone call or video are common in the barrel racing world.

Having a network is important. I didn’t get the opportunity to establish an engraving network like I have for teaching, though I did gain information via online forums available to me. I believe the quality of my learning project suffered from my lack of network. I did gain some great sources from Twitter thanks to the Hobo Nickel Society. They responded to my tweet!

This reinforced another idea- don’t be afraid to ask for help! Someone in your network may be able to help you!

Don’t forget to reflect and learn from failure. Accept failure when it happens, explore why it happened and move on with what you learned from the experience. I know I failed mostly from a lack of practice and a lack of tools (you need the right tool for the job!), but I can still improve my skills with the tools I have and I can always buy more tools.

My last project is incomplete. I began engraving a pair of stirrups (See my post with stirrup inspiration!), but life got in the way. I plan on finishing the pair, but it might take me awhile to get them completed while we are calving and I am working full-time. Below are some photos of my process and a few of my projects this semester! I hope everyone had as much fun as I did when it came to their learning project this class! I’m considering a new learning project in the Fall, I just have to decide what I want to pursue.

Wiggle Engraving

So I decided to play around with wriggle engraving the other week. I’m so sorry that I’m a few weeks behind, between calving season and subbing I’ve had a pretty full schedule!

I saw this engraved trumpet while on a google search adventure and I absolutely loved this design! I had to try something like it!

Fig. 6, 69, Engraving Detail

Detail on the engraved trumpet.

Online learning is difficult, especially if the concept or skill is particularly detailed or not well-known. Engraving is a skill that is all detail. Engraving well involves attention to detail, knowledge of the tools and materials involved and a whole lot of feel. I don’t have great feel yet, but with practice and perseverance, my feel will develop.

Until then, I will keep practicing and honing my skills! After this bracelet, I began engraving an aluminum stirrup (I’ll post about it later) and I’m so excited about how it is turning out!

This is my attempt at wiggle engraving.

Learning online is great, however; it poses its own challenges to different learners. I am very much a hands-on type learner. I like to try new things and experiment until I find a strategy that works for me. With engraving, it is a great strategy, but it can get expensive when I need new materials to experiment with or if I need a new tool to try a new technique.

Sometimes our students don’t learn the same way we teach. That’s OK, great even! We as teachers need to acknowledge those differences and structure our classroom in such a way that everyone can learn in different ways.

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 MakeaGIF.com

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.

Learning Project Inspiration and Goal Setting

The last few weeks have not been productive for me, between traveling with my husband and some health issues that keep me from being 100%. 

I’ve been losing my “giddy up and go,” especially in regards to my learning project. Ironically, inspiration and focus was restored in the least likely of places- Facebook. Unbelievable, I know. Facebook is like a black hole of slackernesss and the death of all productivity. I was scrolling through my newsfeed and these beautiful pieces of art popped up. 

Photo credit: Usher Brand Facebook page.

I really want to engrave a set of stirrups. I want to personalize them and make them me. 

They are giving me motivation to get my butt in gear, practice lots so I can create something beautiful and useful. 

Usher Brand stirrups.

Obviously mine won’t be so elaborate, I can’t set stones yet. But I can engrave a beautiful pattern, or I can work towards that goal. I’m a goal oriented person and lately, I haven’t set any. I’ve also realized that I haven’t set any for my learning project, ever. 

This I need to address. Immediately. 

More prettiness from Usher Brand

This made me think about my future students, maybe some of them are goal driven personalities. I’d love to research how goal setting affects academic outcomes in the classroom. Maybe I will research that… after I practice my engraving!