Steve Lindsay is one of the best and most famous engravers worldwide. And he also crafts his own knives. His works are outstanding and breathless together. He composes filigree arts into virtuoso art works; works of flowing harmony and beauty.
Steve Lindsay was born in 1958 in Holdrege Nebraska. His father, Frank, is an accomplished jeweler, gemologist and watchmaker who worked with pride on precision watches and created custom jewelry, with Steve often at his side, learning the skills of gold and metalworking. Steve's grandfather was a landscape painter, and his great-grandfather was also an engraver and jeweler. Thus, under his father's watchful eye, young Steve, beginning at age 12, quickly learned the art of engraving. His future was cut out for him when in 1975, he was given help by two friends of his father, Lynton McKenzie and James Meek (author of "The Art of Engraving"). It was at that point in his life that he decided custom engraving was his future. On the recommendation of James Meek he attended a tech college majoring in tool and die, mold making and mechanical engineering. After college Steve worked a short time in a tool room of a Nebraska manufacturing company. During off hours he made a lot of the tools that he still uses today for engraving. In 1981 when the tools were finished he began engraving for a full time career. During the past 23 years he has not only engraved for collectors and makers world wide of custom knives, guns, watches and jewelry but for companies such as Oakley Sunglasses as well as production hand engraving and lettering for gold, silver and platinum instrument companies in New England. He also engraved in collaboration with engraver Lynton McKenzie on a Safari international rifle that was sold by S.C.I. in 1986.
Steve has also created his own folding knives and engraved gold and diamond knives made by his father. One of the first things he discovered about pocket knives was that many have exposed pins and pivot pins in the bolsters that sometimes interfere with engraving designs or inlays. Also, because many knives can not be dismantled, they cannot be fully engraved on internal surfaces as well as external surfaces. Steve designed several new folder designs and mechanisms. These are screw-together folders with all screws and pins hidden. Reaching inside the bottom edge of the knife accesses the screws. A locking mechanism he designed is also new, thanks in part to knifemaker Barry Trindle. The lock bar is hidden inside, making the top edge of the knife completely engravable.
Typical of serious artists everywhere, Steve seemingly pushes himself to the maximum. He is always attempting to find better engraving methods and tools, and in the process, received several patents on the fine control hand-engraving tool which he uses for his engravings. The time he expends developing various engraving tools gives him a break from the rigors of daily engraving. More importantly, the design of these tools has raised the level of workmanship in quality and consistency in both his work as well as other artists.
Steve's engravings are cut by hand under a Zeiss microscope. The layout and designs of the engravings are first drawn with pencil and the design is then cut under the microscope with a miniature Chasing AirGraver. 24k gold is used for inlays. Generally, knife engraving prices range from $4,000 (for scroll on a medium sized interframe folding knife without gold inlays), to $40,000 (for elaborately engraved Lindsay designed and made folding knives). Currently Steve is not accepting additional engraving work.
"The hand engraving artistic vision I strive for is very similar to the feelings created for a listener when hearing classical music. In classical music there is main vein or flow, but many developments are added as the music progresses making the sound more interesting and beautiful. I believe everyone searches for beauty. With my engraving I try to suggest beauty for others to discover."
"I enjoy the mechanical and technical aspects of hand engraving, from building engraving tools to the feel of a graver effortlessly moving in my hand through the metal, creating a clean cut. Producing something that is visually pleasing and even musical in its finished essence, gives a great deal of satisfaction. Knife making and metal working for me is a continuation of the mechanical aspect of creating the work to complete the vision."
If you like to get in contact with Steve Lindsay please send us a note to email@example.com or contact him directly under www.lindsayengraving.com.
An Introduction to Hand Engraving
- By Steve Lindsay -
Hand Engraving can be described as the process in which a hardened, shaped and sharpened piece of steel, called a 'Graver', is pushed through the metal's surface. This is done either by hand pressure (push graver), a small lightweight hammer and chisel (graver), or by pneumatic air driven hammer. Pneumatic hammers emulate the hammer and chisel and the push graver technique. The graver is ground to a pointed shape adhering to very specific angles. These angles allow the graver to properly enter the metal surface, traveling forward, continuously curling the metal directly in front of the graver face, while leaving behind a small furrow. The shape of the graver and the angle at which it is held will ultimately decide the furrow shape. The angle can and will often be continuously altered during the process, allowing for the furrow to contain thick and thin graduations of the cut line. If a square shaped graver is used so that one if it's corners enter the metal it will produce a "V" shaped furrow. Many graver shapes are available, each leading to a particular style of engraving and each producing a different result. Usually, the two favored shapes are the "V" and flat. Personal preference plays a significant role in choosing the tool used.
When using the hammer and chisel method both hands are required - one to hold the graver, the other to deliver light hammer impacts against the graver, driving it forward through the material being cut. With the push graver method, the graver is generally fitted to a small wooden handle held in the palm. The graver remains stationary and the item being engraved is held firmly and fed into the graver's tip or rotated into it when a circular or curved line is desired. When making a straight line, the graver is pushed forward using only hand pressure. Each of the these methods requires a rotating vice or a similar holding device, to hold the item being engraved. The pneumatic graver uses air to drive a small self-contained piston within a graver hand piece. This piston impacts against the engraving tool in the same fashion as in the previously described hammer and chisel method. As with the Push Graver method, one hand is free to hold and rotate the item being engraved.
In order to create detailed, quality engravings, the engraver is required to accurately execute many cuts or lines which vary in length, width and depth in the metal. In principal the results achieved are similar to those produced by an artist when sketching with pen or pencil on paper. Spectacular ornamental engravings are possible when the graver is controlled by someone who is well versed in the art of engraving.
Use of advanced methods such as, 'Bulino' and 'Bank note' techniques, allow the artist, if highly skilled, the potential to produce exquisite, lifelike renderings in metal. "Bulino" (pronounced bo-lee-no) - refers to a Pointillism or Dot Technique. It is derived from the Italian term meaning "a small hand held graver". Today the term is used loosely, to represent the method of creating thousands of small dots or lines in the metal. This enables the control of light and dark contrasts.
'Bank note style' is a highly organized and systematic method of creating thousands of individual lines, varying in length, in order to form beautifully detailed renderings or ornamental designs. It is generally seen on pages of older texts, e.g. family Bibles and similar period works of literature printed from engraved plates. The closest and most common representation of this technique in the present may be seen on paper currency.
An artist's ability to visualize where and how each cut should be placed determines the final outcome of the project. When an engraving artist possesses a talent for visualization as well as a theoretic and technical knowledge, he or she will be able to invest the engraving with richness and character, and even with emotion. Tool geometry and the manner in which the graver is shaped, particularly the face and heel angles, will also determine the quality of an engraving. The ability to perfectly grind and shape the graver must be mastered, otherwise clean, accurate, burr-free cutting will not occur, and the results will be unsatisfactory. Badly raised burrs tend to produce visually jagged or distorted lines resulting in a rough, unrefined final product, rather than the smooth, clean results professionals can produce. If the engraver applies too much downward force while cutting or the graver heel is too long or too short, burrs will be raised especially when executing curved lines. A long heel will create drag and a short heel will dig too deeply into the metal. Either way the metal will be forced upwards, generating a burr along the length of the cut.
It can take years to fully master the technical portion of hand engraving and to become proficient in design, and in the historical study of engraving motifs. Only then can one begin to develop a unique and personal artistic style. However, some students of this art may possess a natural talent, which allows them to master the process more rapidly.
Mastering the Art of Engraving requires expertise in several areas. Those can be divided into two categories: art and craft. Engravers engaging only in craft need not possess drawing and design skills to produce excellent engravings, providing that designs are supplied beforehand by either an artist or by replication of available ornamental patterns. Many copyright-free (public domain) ornamental designs are available to help the craftsman in this area. The first and foremost ability a craftsman need possess, then, is the ability to precisely control the graver, with an understanding of the technical skills required in order to achieve the desired results.
However, in the case of engraver as an artist, he or she must have an intense desire to create beautiful original designs, as well as a background in other arts together with artistic drawing talents. The art of engraving itself can be a fulfilling medium for an artist to express his art, and can become a life-long study. The basic method of hand engraving has not changed for centuries. However, with the advent of modern tools, today's engravers are given advantages that previous engravers did not have at their disposal. Computer technology allows the use of photo editing or vector based drawing programs, thus facilitating the design process. Using computers and printing technologies, an artist can now successfully and accurately lay out a design from the computer onto the item being engraved.