hand engraving on wine bottles

Francisco and I started this whole self-employed journey in 2013 with laser engraving. My love of font combinations used in setting up the digital graphics led me to discovering calligraphy in 2014. Flash forward and now I'm also engraving by hand, transferring the dip pen skills to a rotary drill to create a blend of our calligraphy and engraving ventures.

Hand calligraphic engraving can be done on glass, metal, stone, and many other surfaces. It is perfect for extra special gifts or for live promotional events. Using professional equipment that is quiet and portable, I can create a unique attraction at a product launch or party. Everyone loves seeing their own name in beautiful script and they love even more seeing it created live while they watch!

STABILO PENCIL: When marking dark glass, I use the white glass pencil. It is soft and waxy, leaving a clear mark that removes easily. However, because it rubs off, I also have to be careful not to accidentally erase my draft with the side of my hand as I engrave. Therefore, I try to be strategic about the order of my engraving to avoid resting my hand on the pencil marks. If I'm engraving on a lighter glass or metal, I prefer to draft with a fine tip permanent marker and then remove with rubbing alcohol. I suppose I could use a silver Sharpie on dark glass but I never thought of that until this very second!!

FAUX CALLIGRAPHY: Unlike pointed pen calligraphy with a flexible nib, the engraving bit does not produce a variation in the stroke width. If a shaded calligraphy style is desired, the shade strokes must be added in a second pass. This can be what adds the most time to the engraving process. For projects demanding faster engraving results, I tend to stick with monoline script styles or Spencerian as it has only limited shade strokes.

MICROBEAD PILLOW: The trickiest part about engraving on glass is that it often means, trying to write on oddly shaped and/or round surfaces. A pillow is perfect for resting your surface while you work. Since you can smoosh the bottle into the pillow, you can find different positions that allow you to also rest your hand on the pillow while engraving. Notice how I constantly turn the bottle in various directions while engraving.

ROTARY ENGRAVER: Similar to what manicurists use but with a diamond ball tip instead of nail filing tips. If you want to play with glass engraving as a hobby, you can get an inexpensive dremel at Home Depot. 

WAX FILLER: I use Rub 'n Buff which comes in a variety of colors but most people want either silver or gold. Rub 'n Buff will rub off of the smooth, un-engraved surface while it sticks to the rough engraving. It is permanent and messy so you need to act quickly and carefully. It will also stick in every little mark on the surface, so if you mess up at all, the Rub 'n Buff will be sure to tattle on you.

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