After accepting commissions I begin with thoughts of the piece. The shape, lines and balance of the piece will direct the flow of the design. Sketches and reference searches are started, full scale drawings maybe done on highly embellished pieces.
Some designs can be transferred from paper to steel, most all are hand drawn. Whipping a white paste onto the surface creating a film to be drawn on. Once the design is laid out the engraving begins, precisely following the lines, creating clean cuts with consistent depths and widths. Scrolls should be fluid and true, when the main formation of scrolls and leafs are engraved the next step is shading. Multiple feather like lines flow into one creating direction and depth to the scroll elements. When pleased with scroll engraving and shade work next comes the backgrounds.
There are a few back ground techniques. Relieving the background is intricate and challenging. Multiple chisels of varying widths are used to carve out the background. Doing this with not nicking or marring the edges of the scrolls or boarders. If nicks are made you must go back and pare the edge. A very time consuming process, but it creates the best effect. Beaded backgrounds are commonly done aswell as matted or frosted.
Precious metal inlays are created by cutting a channel in the steel. The channels bottom edges are then under cut with a knife like chisle, removing a fine curl of steel. Next is to put a flat punch tool into the under cut ,tapping and sliding the tool along to roll the steel edge upward. Now a true dove tail has been formed. Round 24kt. gold wire is then selected by gauge to be driven delicately into the channel . The precious metal is soft so it flows into the dove tailed edge.