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A long-time repeat customer brought a vase to be engraved for a new grandson. The long message on the piece traces the lineage of the baby's family back to the sailing of the Mayflower in 1620. Below is the finished piece. Following are step-by-step photos showing the process.

The inexpensive vase was glass and extremely soft. My first task was to look at the customer's typed copy.

Without knowing exactly how to space the lines for these words to fit the piece, I had not choice but to measure the width of the vase from handle to handle and determine the maximum width the lines could be. Of primary concern is how close the words could be to each handle. For a right-hander it is far easier to manipulate the drill close to the left side than the right side of the message; the engraving hand cannot maneuver well within a inch or so of the right handle.

Once I decided on the width I'd make the box, I drew lines on a piece of flat glass matching the space I could use on the vase. Then, I 'shot from the hip' and decided a #2 round carbide would probably work just right.

I drew two red lines on flat glass, the same angle apart as the lines on the vase since it was larger at the top. When the entire message was engraved.... the first time!....on the flat glass, I lucked out by choosing the #2 which would allow the entire message top to bottom of the vase. The arbitrary spacing between the lines, which was very close to the standard spacing for that size bur, was also a guess that worked out perfectly.

When the draft on flat glass was complete, I strung a piece of clear tape from top to bottom on the side of the vase; the tape's edge was right on the blue border line on the left of the side of the copy. I then transferred the spacing between line from the flat glass to the vertical tape.

When all the baselines' positions were drawn on the tape, I drew one baseline at a time, then lettered the same words on each line to match the same on the flat glass.

The first line is lettered to match the layout on flat glass. When done, I strung tape across the vase, being extremely cautious to keep the second line level with the first.

The next baseline is being drawn here; it will have the same words...nor more, no are on the flat glass.

The steps shown above were exactly what I did to do the vase on the left, for an earlier grandchild. This second one went faster because I had already done the trial and error for the 'box' size on flat glass for the first vase. I believe I've done 5 of these for this family so far. After the first one, they others have taken considerably less time, but still about 90 minutes per vase.

No mechanical engraver on the planet can produce a piece like this with the custom-fit and the look of artistic hand-engraving. These will be priceless family heirlooms passed down for generations to come, all started by a couple of grandparents who saw the value in recording their heritage on something for a special place on the mantle or a shelf.

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