Hummingbird Skull with Silver Helmet Pendant

Starting a new press-formed hummingbird skull, this time with a twist. Here are several pressings, and carefully forging away the wrinkles in the copper sheet caused by the pressing.

Here’s the beginning of the twist – I’m upcycling a failed silver pressing (it cracked!) to become a helmet. Trimming it from the sheet and pressing it on top of the copper bird makes a very tight fit, then silver soldered permanently in place. The remaining little helmet crack over the beak will become one of my (in)famous repairs…

Silver_Helmet_Hummingbird_Skull_3 Imbedding the skull in pitch to chase and sharpen details, followed by rough carving the eye holes.

Freeing the skull from the copper sheet and beginning to prepare the titanium backplate…

Adding copper staples to repair the helmet axe damage (over the beak) and making tiny copper rivets with a miniature blacksmith’s nail header. Did I mention this is an inch and a half long?

Finished the skull and helmet, and starting engraving the skeletal wings and feathers. Another day or so to go…

Sculpting the titanium skeletal wings in Japanese-style shishiaibori (below the surface in-the-round) and detailing the feathers. One side finished, one to go…

Finished! That ended up being a lot of engraving…feathers eat up a lot of time! Shown with a 20 inch leather cord.

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling

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Steampunk Anglerfish Dogtag – Available for Purchase Now!

Steampunk_Anglerfish_Dogtag_Standard_1 Steampunk_Anglerfish_Dogtag_Gold_1Titanium Dogtag with deep laser engraved Clockwork Steampunk Anglerfish now on the Available for Purchase page. Without gold is $125. With gold is $195.

Thanks for Looking!

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Experimental Banknote Scroll and Sculpted Centipede

I’ve been working to learn “scrolls” lately – here’s a practice for a William Henry knife. In the second image, I’m beginning to excavate for the spots where gold will be inlaid.

Since this will be a hybrid between my usual sculpting and standard scroll technique, I’m not certain how this will turn out – hence, the practicing…

Sculpting the hidden centipede, and inlaying gold in the legs and antennae.

Laying in lots more gold. I hope this ends up working… The cutting isn’t the difficulty, it’s the scroll designing that is kicking my butt!

Finished up the three steps of background removal today, first with a graver, 2nd with carbide bur, and third by stippling the background. Tomorrow, shading….

The scroll experiment is finished! Not too bad, although I’m not completely pleased with the design. But, it appears I can mix sculpted bugs with banknote engraving and get away with it!

Thanks for looking!

Tom Sterling

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Engraving a Serge Panchenko Gen3 Dogtag Knife “Scrolls and Fly”

Working on a special Gen 3 Dog Tag with a small surprise. 2 inches long, bronze. Hopefully it will be done in time for Blade, so visit Serge’s table and see it in person!

The three steps of removing the background. The bottom image has been stippled with a tiny sharp point.

Sculpting the fly, start to finish…

Serge_Panchenko_Gen3_Dogtag_Knife_Scroll_Fly_4 Gen3 finished, and Serge has it all assembled. The handle is bronze and 2 inches long (the blade is a little shorter, I’m not certain). Serge will have it at Blade, so be sure and stop by table 16G and say hi to Julie and Serge and fondle these little beauties!

Thanks for looking!

Tom Sterling

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Engraving Titanium and Gold Dragonfly Earrings

My special lady wants a pair of dragonfly earrings, so here’s the start. Cutting the blanks from 1/16 inch thick titanium, and cutting the basic lines. Tomorrow, inlaying gold bodies…

Clockwise from top left – excavating the pocket/undercutting the edges/heavy stippling in the bottom; putting in gold wire; scraping off the excess gold; inlaid gold stoned smooth. Next, relieve and stipple the background.

Removing the background with gravers and tiny carbide burs, followed by stippling with a sharp carbide point. Getting close to finishing this one. Bad news, though, ’cause there’s a second one…

The earrings are finished. They are a shade smaller than 3/4 of an inch square, hand engraved in CP titanium and 24 karat gold.

Another view of the earrings.

Thanks for looking!

Tom Sterling

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Engraving a “Koi and Waves” Tactical Bead

Well, no rest for the wicked… wants a tactical bead. Serge lathe-turned the copper bead blank, but it’s pretty small and difficult to hold while engraving. So, thinking about this all during his Koi and Waves Bean knife handle, I came up with this clamping fixture. Started as a piece of repurposed Boeing surplus aluminum doodad, socket head screw, added a brass sleeve and Delrin washers. Clamps into my engraver’s block, and works great!

Starting cutting Serge’s bead with a Japanese-style Koi and Waves. The fixture is working well, I can easily cut about 45 degrees of the top, and easily adjusts to the next position. I’m kind of liking bead cutting, so this probably won’t be the last…

Sculpting the waves and the koi. Some sculpting is cutting metal away, and some is moving metal around with tiny punches. Have I mentioned the bead is 7/8 of an inch tall and half an inch in diameter?

Everything sculpted and textured, and pics of all sides. Even got the gold eye installed. Tomorrow, adding in wave lines and finishing up!

Here’s the finished bead, seen from all sides. A lot of fun! I’ll have to cut some more. Off to Serge tomorrow.

Thanks for looking!

Tom Sterling

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Engraving a Serge Panchenko Bean Knife “Koi and Waves”

Above, Serge finished making the other parts and assembled the completed knife.  Photos courtesy of


Starting another collaboration on a sweet bronze Bean knife scale, this time with a Japanese-style Koi and Waves theme. There will be a few dots of gold, and a gold koi eye.

Sculpting the waves and the koi. It’s starting to look like something now!

I textured all the wave surfaces today, as well as finished the 24 karat gold inlays.

Serge_Koi_and_Waves_Bean_Knife_4 “Koi and Waves” Bean knife scale is finished! Back to Serge on Monday for assembly, I can’t wait to see how the whole package turns out… Both signatures on the backside, ’cause I couldn’t bear to interfere with the front…

Thanks for looking!

Tom Sterling


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Engraving a Serge Panchenko Bean Knife “Dogfish”

Starting a new engraving project on one of Serge Panchenko’s sweet little Bean folding knives ( This Bean knife scale is in bronze, and is a dream to cut. Just a bit under three inches long.

Adding in the 24 karat gold inlays in the undulating bull kelp fronds. L to R, undercutting the pockets, pounding in the gold wire, trimming it back.

Spent the day doing ophthalmology and dentistry on collaboration NW-style Dogfish. Upper left, undercut and heavily stippled with a little trick for inlaying gold wire in round spots. Then, various stages of pounding in and trimming the inlaid gold.

Finished trimming out the gold inlays today. Next, background removal and stippling, and then it will be back to Serge for assembly…

serge Bean folding knife NW-style Dogfish finished! Left image before detailing and inking, right side finished.

Thanks for looking!

Tom Sterling

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“Bad Day at Green River” Pendant

Fossil_Fish_Pendant_1Starting a new experiment with engraved fossils – the “Bad Day at Green River” pendant. Titanium, about 2 inches tall, with 24 karat gold inlays.

Upper left, inlaid gold with no embellishment. Lower right, engraving very tiny (almost invisible) lines in the titanium just outside the gold really makes it pop.

Adding more little fossil fishes…

Adding in the stone finish and cutting away the recesses simulating layered stone, the top left fish fossil has the background finished like I’m planning.

Almost done! A quick inking with burnt umber to warm it up a little and bring out the gold. Now I have to ponder it for a while…

“Bad Day at Green River” pendant finished. Hand engraved and carved titanium, 24 karat gold inlays, silver hardware, leather neck cord. Thanks for looking and all the support!

Thanks for looking!

Tom Sterling

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Steelhead and Buckskin Pouch – for Renee

Renee wanted to know if I had any of these little carved moose antler fish for sale.  Unfortunately, for health reasons I no longer carve any kind of natural materials, so I don’t have any of the fish for sale.  She made a buckskin pouch using my tutorial (which can be found for free in the Resources section of this blog – here:  She also thought she might try her hand at carving her own little fish dangles.

So, thanks for the kind words Renee, and here are some better photos of the little carved antler fish.  I hope they are of use to you in your carving adventures!  Don’t overlook my free 300+ page netsuke carving tutorial ( – there are lots of hints there to help you with the tools and techniques for carving antler and other natural materials

Gutted_Steelhead_Buckskin_Pouch_9 Gutted_Steelhead_Buckskin_Pouch_1

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