top of page


My engraving life is not toally about bottles. But almost. That's what I'm beginning to be best-known for, so that's what comes to my door most often. However, this one had a different beginning.

Here's the story. It was New Year's Eve, 2013, at a fine liquor store in Colleyville, Texas. Big store. Wide variety of spirits and any other libation you'd want. I had been booked by the owner to come sit in the corner to make as many celebration bottles as special as I could as fast as I could. What the heck. We had no invitation to any New Year's Eve bashes. It was agreed to be a 5 hour gig, so I was set up, raring to go at 4:00, to be home in plenty of time for the Times Square Waterford ball drop.

By 8:00, it had become very quiet in the store. Booze already bought and being consumed at a zillion parties around the upscale neighborhood where I sat. About that time the owner left the few employes and me to close the joint at 9:00. As he walked by my table, he said, "Hey, Ken...grab something special in that locked case and make it more special. It'll be a good display item."

He opened the case, I took this bottle, he locked the cabinet, and I was already composing the verse on a napkin with a ballpoint. I decided to make it a free-form layout. I drew no pattern or pre-determined path. When my poem was written, I picked a place to begin and engraved the words where the spirit moved me. (Sorry about that! I was stone-sober the entire evening, since I was my designated driver.)

When I finished the bottle and added the color, I could NOT bear to leave my creation there for someone to purchase and get the original composition and engraving FREE! Besides, I was so pleased with the way it turned out, I peeled out my debit card to buy the bottle for myself. Gulp! The price tag said, $155. No sweat. I had a plan. For all the owner knows, a customer bought the bottle after he left. Precisely! He never knew what I did, other than help him make a sale!

For the next 90 days or so, it sat in my display case in the front of my Studio. Lots of people admired it, read the verse, and commented, but nobody offered to reimburse me for the bottle purchase and the message.

Then around the first of April, I got a call from a woman employee in administration at Oklahoma State University, needing a special bottle for a 60th birthday gift. Ironically, she asked if I could suggest a good bottle of the old boy's favorite, tequila, and put his name on it. Well!! What a serendipity!

Told her about the bottle and she was interested enough to want a photo. She had 3 views of the bottle in minutes, showing the entire message. We talked a moment, then "I'll call you back shortly," she said. She wanted to run it by her daughter, for her opinion.

Soon, she called back and asked the price. I asked what she wanted to have added. She gave me the name and information to personalize the bottle. I told her she'd have to reimburse me for the cost of the bottle and tax; on top of that, the engraving fee, packing, and shipping FedEx Ground which would round it out to $425. Without a moment of hesitation, she agreed and gave me her card number. The next day she had the bottle in Stillwater, OK.

HOW IT WAS DONE: The verse was engraved with a #4 round carbide bur. A #2 round was used for the 3 lines and date above the label. Antique Gold Rub 'N Buff was used to fill the lettering. Total engraving time was about 40 minutes. Color, another 10 minutes.


The woman knew of my work, to make the call, through an executive at the university. He had received a gift bottle I had done some months earlier, so when the subject of a special bottle came up in their conversation, so did my name! Of course, I had clearly signed the back of his bottle, and hung my little card around the neck. Oh... his bottle was one I did for a friend and former executive at OSU, who asked me to create something special for the guy several weeks earlier.

So....spread your work around. Think and engrave 'out of the box.' Sprinkle inexpensive, personalized goodies to as many people as you have time for. If you're confident enough to give away a few bottles, get some $10. wine and put someone's name on it. And don't forget to sign it and include your business card. All your efforts will not produce business, but you never know what may pop up. This bottle is a prime example.

I live by a quote every day that says:

"Chance is a powerful thing. Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish."

-Ovid, Heroides

Good luck with your engraving....a most amazing way to impress people and earn money!

-Ken Brown

79 views0 comments
bottom of page