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She looked to have been about 17 and was from Dallas. A starry-eyed young girl in love with just the gift to charm her somewhat new and elder sweetheart. If she was of drinking age, she fooled me. Surely she planned to share the cooled wine from this chiller, bearing her soul and enchanted love, with her newfound love.

She called me first with, "Can you engrave metal?" Most engravers do but she needed to be sure on this biggie gift before making the trip, far north to McKinney. When she arrived she handed me the piece with one hand and her hand-written page of love with the other. I asked her if she really wanted all that engraved on the piece. She assured me she did. I was all but certain the little lovely would balk at the price, saving me the laborious layout and lettering I knew I'd be facing. Had never tackled such an assignment.

I took a quick count of the words and silently guessed at the time I thought it would take. "There's a lot of words here; your price will be $275." Without hesitation, she said, "Great! When can I pick it up?" Told her the next day.

As I write this, the retail is $100. for the piece. Eleven years ago when I did it, it was probably $60. or $70. So she would have almost $375. in the deal counting the gas for two round trips from Dallas. She left. I started.

After some considerable editing and punctuation, I got the piece ready to layout. Here's what I did:

•Decided that the message would be read from one point of view; no turning necessary. Drew those right and left boundary lines on the front of the piece centered below the slope of the top.

•Decided where the top and bottom line of lettering would be. Drew those lines at the top and bottom. Then I had a 'box' to fit all the words in.

•Selected a font in my Mac that closely matched my script. It was Edwardian.

•Created a box the same size as the one on the chiller, on my screen. Selected a font size to test for sizing.

•I selected a trial point size that would allow the longest line...5th from the fit side to side of the box. If that one would fit, all the rest would as well. After a couple of changes, I found the point size for a perfect fit.

•Then, I made the 'box' on a piece of flat glass and found the bur that would allow me to letter the longest line inside the box, with letters about the same size as the Edwardian's selected point size.

•Then I went to the top of the box on the computer screen and began typing, beginning with the 'Dear Scott.' When I had finished with the entire message, it took more lines than would fit in the box top to bottom. I reduced the 'leading' between lines... and did that a time or two until I found I could get every word of the message to perfectly fill the box.

•I printed the typed message in the box on the computer so I could see the entire piece, to be lettered to match that copy.

•When I knew....on the ruler....precisely the space between lines measured on the printed copy, I carefully drew each line with a Sharpie UltraFine line at a time on the chiller. I used a piece of clear tape for my straightedge on the rounded surface of the chiller. If I had drawn all the baselines at once, my hand would have rubbed them off as I worked down the piece.

•Every line was engraved with exactly the same words on my printed sheet.

•The message on the rim was written on a piece of tape for centering, then engraved with the same bur. The entire piece was engraved with a #2 round carbide bur.

I hope the couple lived up to each others' expectations and are happily sharing a glass of wine from a special memento of their early acquaintance.

Though it sounds terribly time-consuming, the layout was. The engraving was routine stuff. Layout and engraving....and washing off the lines...took 50 minutes. Not a bad hourly rate for a challenging job and a learned method that would take less time the next time.


If you can see this in your life....working at home, at your own pace, for a great hourly rate...let me hear from you. Remember, it's all a METHOD. A TECHNIQUE. Forget your lousy handwriting and total lack of artistic ability and no experience with Calligraphy! NONE of that is needed.


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