Baby Sea Turtle Pendant Part 4

Above, I’ve finished carving and sculpting all the flippers and her cute little tail.  I’ve also carved the track details, and textured the sand.

And a side view. Pretty deep carving, even though it’s low relief!  Now it’s on to the silver back…

I’ve engraved the outlines of the starfish, and using a tiny carbide bur, I’ve excavated the pocket for the inlay.  I’ve also undercut all the sides, and laid in lots of tiny hooks to catch the gold wire.  Above you can see the beginning of the gold wire being punched into place.  The tiny hooks in the silver hold the gold quite well, even when it is just barely punched down.  I want to leave enough gold above the pocket so when I really punch the wire down, it will become a single, solid mass and flow into the side undercuts and into all the gaps between the hooks.  24 karat gold will readily cold-weld to itself, becoming a single piece.  This is how dental fillings were done for many centuries, before mercury amalgams were introduced.

Above,the first round of the gold wire punched loosely in.  I’ll continue this until the entire cavity is filled with concentric wires.

Above, all the wires in place, and before punching it all securely into place.  The super-soft gold will flow in all directions, and fill all the visible gaps.

And here’s the final punching, followed by outlining the inlay with tiny engraved lines.  Normally I would stone the gold completely flat, but since I’ll by using a tiny beading punch to texture the starfish skin, I won’t bother here.

Above, I’ve used the beading punch to make tiny knobs all over the surface, just like the knobby skin of a real starfish.

And here’s the 24 karat gold starfish inlaid in the Sterling silver back.


Finished! This little turtle is ready to crawl off to her new home… She’s an inch and a half tall, hand engraved in 416 stainless steel, with a sterling silver backing, and inlaid 24 karat gold starfish.

A close-up of the turtle and the turtle tracks in the sand. She’s booking for the water before the gulls spot her!

Thanks for looking!


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Baby Sea Turtle Pendant Part 3

Now it’s time to begin rounding over all the flippers and the head.  I’ll start with the baby’s right front flipper, using a flat graver, and then followed up with burs and punches.

Above is a close-up of  the flipper before using the punch for final refinements.

Baby_Sea_Turtle_Pendant_19a Baby_Sea_Turtle_Pendant_19b
Above, I’ve finished with the right front flipper, and added the patina.  Looking more like a tiny turtle now…

Now I need to do the same thing to the head.  This is my favorite part, since the turtle will take on life once the eyes are done – the eyes are the window of the soul.

A close-up.  I’ve just used carbide burs here, and, of course, a v-graver to re-engrave the lines for the skin plates.

Above, the head is finished after refinement with punch and the addition of patina.

I’m ready for my close-up, Mr DeMille…

Thanks for looking!

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Baby Sea Turtle Pendant Part 2

I couldn’t resist adding a little sand texture to the smooth sand in front of the turtle.  Just because I’m curious to see how things will eventually look.  Behind his front flippers, I’ll eventually be adding in the turtle tracks as he/she books for the relative safety of the water, before the gulls spot him/her.

Also, I’ve begun carving the shell to make it look like it is round.  Since this is low relief, it’s a little tricky to make things look right.  There’s not much depth to work with, and it’s more than just carving away everything that doesn’t look like a turtle shell, so there’s a lot of taking off a little bit, then pulling my head out of the microscope and looking to see how it’s working.  Then, lather, rinse, repeat until it looks like a turtle shell to the naked eye.

I’ve finished carving the shell, using a combination of flat gravers and carbide burs. I finished up by using a smooth faced punch to move metal around and smooth everything over. Engravers call this “sculpting.”

Thanks for looking!

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Baby Sea Turtle Pendant Part 1

This is how an engraving begins. My design is laser printed on ordinary kitchen baking parchment. The laser printer toner doesn’t stick well to the paper, and with a little encouragement from the antler burnisher, will transfer to the sticky Dammar varnish.

Here’s the transfer on the stainless steel pendant blank, with a silver backing.  It’s about one and one half inches high.  Next, I’ll begin engraving all of the layout lines.

Above, I’ve engraved all of my design lines, and begun removing and leveling the background. This will be a relief carving, so I need to go quite a bit deeper than this. As I carve and round over the turtle parts, I’ll end up re-engraving all of these lines several times…

More background removal, using carbide burs now.  The left side is about right, the right side needs lots more work…

Above, all sides done, and a little dark patina thrown in to see how it might look when finished.  I also find it easier to see what I’m doing when I cut the darker metal.  Less glare, as well.

Here’s a side view of the total depth. Technically this is “low relief” engraving, but it’s still pretty deep!

Thanks for looking!

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Steampunk Viperfish

Here’s a small Work-in-Progress engraving Serge Panchenko’s exquisite Coin Claw Pendant Knife.

Above is the finished Coin Claw knife.  This was a special version of Serge’s Coin Claw, and Serge went all out by making a lovely stainless steel damascus blade, timascus spacer, 6Al4V titanium frame and spring, and a special Grade 2 titanium backplate created especially for engraving.

This is the starting canvas.  The knife alone is like a small, exquisite jewel.  Everything fits beautifully, and Serge’s finishes are topnotch.

Above is the beginning design for a nasty-piece-of-work steampunk viperfish, complete with gear-guts.

Day 1, I’ve disassembled the knife (seemed like such a shame!) and engraved the major lines of the design, cutting through Serge’s nice stonewashed finish.

The next steps are to add in all of the copper and 25 karat gold inlays.  Above, I’ve begun excavating the pockets for the copper jaw, pectoral fins and tail pivots.  I’ll follow up the excavation with undercutting the outside edges, and cutting a forest of tinyhooks in the floors of the pockets.  I’ll wind copper wire in a spiral, using a brass punch to drive the soft metal into the tiny hooks and undercuts, resulting in a solid mass that is permanently trapped in the titanium parent metal.

Here are the copper inlays left rough from the brass punch.

Above, I’ve used diesinker stones to abrade the copper down level with the parent titanium.  I’ve also begun the copper inlays in the pectoral fin rays.

More inlays, including some in 24 karat gold.  This is the end of Day 2 engraving.

Day 3.  Above, I’ve carved the fins and the tail, and inlaid the gold gears.  Only four more gold inlays to go! And, while I shouldn’t, I couldn’t resist a little background removal just to see how it’s going to look…

Here I’ve begun stippling the background with a tiny, sharp carbide punch.  Background removal and stippling is mind-numbing work, but it really makes the engraving pop!

And, once again even though I probably shouldn’t, I couldn’t resist inking what I’ve engraved so far to see how it’s going to look.  Even if I do say so myself, it’s going to be good!  Day 4, I think?  I’m not sure where Day 3 went…


More background removal, in front of the mouth.  I’m using a graver to remove a lot of the material before I switch to a small carbide bur.

And more background removal.  Did I mention that background removal is mind-numbing work?

Here’s the back plate in the engraver’s vise. I’m still working on background removal and stippling.  You can see the carbide stippling punch in my Lindsay Nitro G20 airgraver.  Its’ extra power is very useful for tough metals like titanium.  I think this is the end of Day 5.

More background removal – stippled.

There’s that section underneath the jaw that still needs the background removed, and then that’s the last of the football-sized areas.  The others should be a bit more interesting and faster.

Above, the rest of the background excavated and stippled.  Didn’t I tell you it would go faster?  This is the end of Day 6.

Above, here’s the backplate finished and inked for the last time.  I’ve engraved all the final details like the pivot pins in the backbone and the plates on the ugly fish’s back.  I’ve also shaded everything, which helps to make it all pop.

And, of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone, and decided I needed to add a small surprise for Serge.  Since I’ve been spending so much time with his little knife, I couldn’t help notice the little banana-shaped area beneath the blade.  That just cried out for an ugly fish of its’ own…so, above, I’ve engraved the outlines with a small carbide graver.  This frame is made of 6Al4V titanium, which is a notorious material for engravers.  However, I discovered that with a really small carbide graver, I could actually engrave lightly in it without too much grief.

And, of course, since the nasty-piece-of-work viperfish on the back is pretty rich with all of her gold, the ugly fish on the front demanded her share as well.  Above, you can see the eye and the fishing lure light excavated, undercut and hooks raised, ready to inlay.

Here’s a little hint for the engravers in the audience – if all you have on hand is 28 gauge wire and the blob you want to inlay is a little large, just melt a blob on the end of the wire.  Problem solved…

Gold in place, and stoned flat.  Of course, this is where I had a thought.  It’s rare when that happens, but I noticed that the nice stonewashed background would provide a really nice contrast to bare titanium inside the fish…

So, a little later after work with a couple of tiny abrasive stones, a nice silvery fish…

Above, shaded, finished and inked

But, we’re not finished yet – the titanium pivot ring is insisting on a little attention as well…  Then, reassemble all of the parts, find the tiny screw that rolled under the bench and into the trash on the floor, try to remember if the bronze washer goes on the bottom or the top; no, that’s not the screw for that hole, careful – don’t scratch that part, and then sit in front of the boob tube and admire my handiwork…I wonder if there is any way I can keep this thing?  Oops, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed is saying that I have to send it back to Serge…

Thanks for looking!

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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Finished

Above, I’ve completed the gold inlay, and cut the details in the antennae.  This image is before the final patina.

Above are detail shots of the more important elements.

And overall views of the final pieces.

Thanks for looking!

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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Part 12

Above, I’ve been adding inlaid gold to the centipede legs.  The leg at the left is finished, and I’ve just used a brass punch to set the gold in the right leg.

Above, you can still see a little waste gold hanging off the right side where I used the brass punch against the sharp steel top edge of the inlay cut as a shear to remove the excess.  Also, on the third leg from the left, you can see where I used a V graver to cut the top surface of the leg, followed by a flat graver driven in at the bottoms of the cut at right angles to the length of the cut.  This provides a gap on both sides at the bottom of the V cut for the soft gold to flow into and be trapped into place.

Above is after three and a half hours of work – almost done, but I’m tired and going further will increase the chances of a mistake dramatically, so that’s enough for today.

And here is the whole Side B scale.  So close!  Have you noticed the tiny jumping spider at 1 o’clock?  My girls badgered me into putting that in, claiming it needed something in that area…never question your Better Half and her accompanying fan club…………….

Thanks for looking!

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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Part 10

Above, I’ve completed most of the bark, save for a small area where I might place a tiny spider – I’ll look at it while in front of the TV tonight, and decide if it is an enhancement, or just an addition. Just like the bark on the front, I’ve used two sizes of carbide burs, followed by selective use of a square graver, and then followed by a large punch.

Thanks for looking!


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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Part 9

Today is all about sculpting and detailing the centipede.  More work with a flat graver, followed sculpting with a small flat faced punch (with a slightly radius on the face).  Above, you can see the results of about two hours of sculpting.

Here’s the same thing, but with a quick patina added.  Much improved, don’t you think?

I want the centipede body to really stand out as very dark, something not easily done in stainless steel.   I’ve carefully stippled each body segment with a small carbide round, sharpened to a short taper on a diamond lap.

And, above, an overall view of about three hours of work today.

Thanks for looking!


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William Henry “Engraved Longhorn Beetle Knife” Part 8

Side B has been calling to me for a while now, so it’s time to knuckle under and get started…  This will be mostly bark with a sneaky centipede partially hidden underneath.  I vividly remember seeing one of these bad boys as a young child in Texas, when I was perhaps 5 or 6.  Black body and startlingly yellow legs, it seemed like it was a foot long and struck me as being “powerful.”  Bugs aren’t something you would normally think of as powerful.  Stingers, biters, scratchers, yes, but not as having power.  But this thing was angry, not happy being held down with a stick across its’ middle, and it seemed to be winning the fight.


Here, I’ve simply engraved all of my layout lines quite deeply with a Lindsay Detailing (96 degree) graver.  I’ve also reserved a space for a possible use later, and marked where two cavities are located on the underside.  I don’t want to carve into those.

Above, I’ve used two sizes of carbide burs (small and tiny) to excavate around the centipede to the desired depth.  Quite deep against the centipede’s body, tapering to almost zero depth at the lower edge of the scale.

I’ve used flat gravers to begin carving the slightly rounded body where it disappears under the bark, and where the legs disappear under the body.  I’ve also used tiny flats to cut around the base of the legs and the tree surface.  Did you know that an onglette with a flat heel on the bottom makes a pretty strong, yet tiny flat graver?  Try it…

And, above, a more magnified view.  Lots more carving and rounding of the body and further sculpting with a punch tomorrow.

Thanks for looking!

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