Thursday, September 30, 2010

Oh Graver

This here, Ladies and Gentleman, is my 16/8 Graver. Gravers are for engraving - big surprise,
huh? Well, there are several kinds of gravers that I will be using, but this one is very much unlike the rest. On the bottom side or "belly" of the tool, there are 8 sharp, straight edges. When placed against the metal at a slight angle and carefully pushed, the graver scoops up the metal and creates 8 hopefully straight lines, fractions of a millimeter apart. If anyone has ever seen a Florentine Finish on a piece of jewelry, this is the tool that is often used to create said finish. It truly is easier said than done! In my practice with this tool, I have realized a few things. You should not push too hard or too deep - the idea is to create the finish, but to lose as little silver as possible. Be careful, but not afraid. You have to follow 3 degrees of Respect. Respect for the metal, Respect for the tool, and Respect for yourself. I find myself almost willing the graver to move - using "the Force" - but not to force the tool. It is exciting to watch the tiny curls of silver rise from the front of the graver, and to see the shining lines the tool creates. It is frustrating when I lose focus for but a fraction of a second, when my graver changes its angle but a fraction of a degree, and the lines skid off in a failing direction. This my friends, is something that requires great amounts of practice to perfect. One of my instructors, Robert, who studied in Switzerland, studied gravers for 4 years. I have only "scratched" the surface. I can tell that even though engraving is a frustrating art to learn, I love learning it, and will one day truly love knowing it.

It is now Thursday afternoon. I finished the Florentine Finish just after lunch, and began a new project - Terri's Tapered Ring. All of our projects have funny names...the names of our "customers." So far there has been Mr. Newmann, Mr. Richards, Bert, and now Terri. Terri's Tapered Ring begins with a simple unfinished brass band, or rather I should say "yellow metal band." The first step involves measurement - using our vernier calipers to find the width of the ring (7.2mm) and then dividing that by 2, we get (3.6mm), and then further separating the ring into fourths of each measuring (1.8mm). Using scribes, I carved fine lines around the ring, and chose a point to call the bottom of the ring. From there, I filed the bottom portion of the ring, nearing a required measurement of 3mm (though we are allowed a tolerance of +/- 2mm). The top of the ring has to be 7mm with the same allowance. My goal of course is to be precise! So far I am excelling in this project because of my eye for detail - using the fine lines carved around the ring as my guide, and following the silent mantra File, File, Measure, Measure, File, File, Measure, Measure... Other students have had to start over 2-3 times. I fear it as a possibility, but am still confident I can complete the project with just one band.
My day is over now... It's raining today, drizzling really, and the locals of Carlsbad/San Diego are freaking out. The radio this morning was describing how thunderstorms happen as if no one knows...apparently it doesn't happen much around here, and rain is unheard of this time of year. Still, it is feels slightly like home!

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