Fine English Scroll Earrings

My wife is starting a line of jewelry, and here are a pair of titanium earrings destined for a bit of Fine English Scroll engraving – at least my take on what I think Fine English Scroll is. The actual size of the earring is 1.75 inches tall.


I began with the basic shape of the earrings. These are tapered, so each of the four spirals I planned would have to be of graduated sizes. I chose four spirals for this earring because they would fit well – if the earring was shorter, then three would have been more appropriate, and if longer, then five or six. This is the first bit of artistic judgement I had to use…

Next, I placed a border inside the earring outlines. Sometimes I’ll cut the border, but this time I’m only using it for planning purposes – I want some space to remain outside the scrolls. That is artistic judgment number two… Then, I sketched in the spiral backbones. The one at the top I chose for the starting element, so it is the only one that is different since it contains the scroll origin (I think of it as the seed). Then I inked in the scroll backbones.

Also note the direction each of the spirals takes as it leaves (grows from…) the previous one, each spiral being in the opposite direction from the previous, just as plants grow – you seldom see a branch grow the other direction, and then it looks really weird.

Above is the actual pattern, ready for transfer. Note that I’ve removed the border – had I left it in, I might cut it in a moment of inattention. Best not to leave things to chance – no battle plan ever survived contact with the enemy…I have met the enemy, and he is me…

Here’s a little hint that took me a great deal of time to figure out: Most modern engraved spirals have one and a half turns! (See the blue line) I always tended to put too many turns in, then had difficulty filling them. This is a case where less is probably more…

Also, note that I have a knee in each of the four spirals (the red arrow) – I used a scribe to correct the transfers under the microscope. Even those corrections weren’t the greatest – it’s much easier to cut a smooth curve than it is to draw one, so I really just corrected them on the fly during cutting. Artistic judgement number three.

Here’s the earring with the scroll backbones cut.

And the earring in progress and finished.

And a closeup.  Of course, this is a pretty simple start, but at least it isn’t just a rectangle like most practice plates. Things really get worse when you try to fit this stuff on a knife or gun, with lots of odd shaped areas and curves. Plus, when your relatives show up with an odd shaped (fill in the blank) for you to add a few ruffles and flourishes to…

Hand engraved Fine English Scroll earrings completed. Grade 2 titanium, 1.75 inches tall. Now I need to make a matching pendant…no rest for the wicked…

Thanks for Looking!

Tom Sterling


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