When I and my father started to make knives and other sharp ‘things’ we saw immediately that if we wanted to make really beautiful and high-end knives we need to learn engraving. When knife even has some very little engraved parts it looks just so much better, for examples look here (Sam was our instructor in Antwerp, btw.) and here, these are knives are engraved by the best of the best engravers and it shows. So we bought engraving machine, some engravers and then some books. After trying to figure out how to engrave by myself I thought that it might be wiser to take a class, because trying out it by myself I might get some results, but I might use totally wrong techniques and waste more time doing things than I really should.
Anyways, long story short – I was 5 days in Antwerp, taking Basic Engraving course with Sam Alfano. Man, this was just so very fun. First day seemed like it lasted only 2 hours, time just flew by (actually all days were from 9 AM to 6 PM). And I learned really a lot. I even had a nightmare on Monday night – I thought that it was already Friday, the class is over and I have to go home. What a relief it was to wake up…
The course was set up very well. We started on day 1 by creating our tools, sharpening engravers with correct angles and stuff, and then engraving plain straight lines, then curves, then little more complex lines and patterns. When 5th day ended we saw and tried out how to do different borders, script lettering, rosette, relief engraving, gold inlay and sculpting. Every new thing we learned relied on previous things, so it was really nice gradual and (relatively) fast paced learning week. Before this course I could barely engrave a straight line, after that I was doing quite well on scrolls and stuff. I especially liked relief engraving, because it created just such a beautiful effect. Also I tried to learn the relief engraving as much and as well as I could, because Sam said it is de facto requirement for high-end knife engraving and that’s what I’d like to do. Not 25 cheap knives but one really good, and thus expensive, knife in a month. I also enjoyed watching Sam, our instructor, engraving – it’s just so nice to see how a guy knows his stuff. Creating beautiful designs and executing these at such perfection and speed that’s quite unfathomable to me. But hey, 30 years of experience if worth something! So far I have only 50 hours under my belt.
The trip itself was very good too. I like this city, old town and especially the cathedral is very beautiful. And oh man, was there diamond businesses. Just one part of city was filled with every kind jewelery shops, workshops and then some more shops and then some watch shops and… well, you get the idea. Quite amazing for me, I must say. My hotel was in jewish part of the city and that was quite an experience for me too – as I’ve never seen so much jews at one time.
Anyway, check out my photos I made in Antwerp and during engraving class (when you see photos of engravings be sure not to mistake my practice plates and Sam’s work).