What do people first think of when they hear the word "engraving". Jewelry, serving sets, picture frames? What do you first think of? When I used to hear the word, my thoughts were always some metal thing with someone's initials mechanically scratched into it. Pretty, but limited.
My background is in carpentry and cabinetmaking. After the early years, I ventured into automation for the cabinet and architectural millwork professions. I started programing and designing for automated CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) equipment. The machines were huge when they first appeared on the marketplace. I could have parked a pick up truck under some of them. I found them both fascinating and captivating. What could they do? What were their capabilities? How far could you go with automated manufacturing in the cabinet and millwork world?
After my initial introduction to the equipment in the early 1990s I was able to learn the answers to my questions. I also found out that programming company logos and by-lines into this equipment was a challenge, a lot of fun and rewarding. Little did I realize that this was my first introduction into engraving.
Over the years companies started making smaller CNC equipment. Software started to take programmers, such as my self, out of writing machine code for days and turning it into hours with the software. Today these advancements have not stopped moving forward.
Gone are the days of that vision of the little old man at a bench carving away at a piece of jewelry or a block of wood. Enter the age of creation. Or as I call it... "Cree8".
My first piece of equipment was a laser engraver. It is CNC equipment so this transition was natural for me... or so I thought. I could easily compile, through software, what I saw as the end result. Getting the machine to do it was another matter all together. There are power to speed ratios, focus adjustments and a slew of other things involved with the initial learning curve. Nonetheless, I was hooked. I quickly learned that experience and mistakes were to be expected to gain the required knowledge. I read that you could engrave denim. So I took my trusty denim jacket off of its hanger, placed it in the machine and to my dismay I absolutely ruined it. Not only can lasers engrave denim, they can also cut it to smithereens! After a few pairs of old jeans and shirts I begin to learn the settings needed.
Through the years I destroyed fabrics, glass, leather, wood, acrylic and a slew of materials. With each destruction came knowledge of what happened and what to do to prevent it from happening again. All of the material I ruined was my own. I considered it a "classroom investment".
As of today I have done butter, eggs, hockey pucks, chocolate, apples, bananas, pumpkin pies, automotive glass, rowing oars, jewelry, watches, wood, acrylic, mirror, chrome, stainless steel and a slew of other materials. Now I was into the creative aspect and loving every minute of it.
My advice to you? Never stifle your creativity. Expand upon it. Discover your talents in your own ways. If it's not in the field of engraving, who cares. As long as it pleases you. That's what is important.
I will be elaborating on additional equipment and people I have had the good fortune of meeting in the very near future, As they say, "Stay Tuned".