When it comes to learning airgraver, you essentially have three options to choose.
If you're willing to invest a significant amount of time, you can opt for a low-cost or even cost-free approach. You can start by purchasing a single book that provides basic knowledge on hand engraving techniques. With just the most essential hand tools like a hammer, chisel, or hand-pushed burins, you can begin your learning journey. It's worth noting that for centuries, craftsmen achieved remarkable results using these traditional tools, and many contemporary artists continue to produce exceptional work using the same methods.
Another option is to join online forums dedicated to hand engraving, where you can connect with experienced engravers who are willing to offer guidance and mentorship. By studying the work of numerous professional engravers available online, you can gain inspiration and insights. You can then synthesize this information and develop a personalized plan for self-instruction.
Additionally, these forums may provide plans and instructions for crafting your engraving ball, gravers, and other essential bench tools, allowing you to tailor your equipment to your specific needs.
Another option is to invest a moderate amount of money in attending intensive private or public workshops and classes. While these do come with a cost, they are specifically designed to save you both time and money in the long run. The education you receive will cover comprehensive training on all the necessary tools and techniques, under the supervision of experienced instructors. This ensures that you learn proper techniques right from the start and avoid developing bad habits. Attending such workshops also provides the opportunity to explore different tools and methods across various engraving disciplines, allowing you to discover the full range of possibilities.
By experiencing firsthand the different tools and techniques, you can make informed decisions about the specific tools and equipment you need to achieve your desired results. It's important not to rush into purchasing expensive tools without first trying them out. This approach helps prevent unnecessary expenses, especially if you discover that hand engraving is not the right fit for you.
The third one is to seek out an experienced engraver who is willing to provide training in their workshop. In this arrangement, it is common to agree on repaying the professional through your time and labor. This can be an ideal situation if both parties have clear expectations and benefits. However, it can also be problematic if things don't work out as anticipated. Many engravers hesitate to offer training due to the significant time investment required to bring a trainee up to a useful level of skill. It often takes months to reach that point, which means the engraver only breaks even in terms of time and cost.
The viability of this option depends on what is more valuable to you. If you are young and time is not a pressing concern, but money is limited, this arrangement may be feasible. However, if you are in your 40s or older and eager to build a substantial body of work before time runs out, time becomes a precious resource, while money might be more accessible. In such cases, short and intensive private workshops that focus on specific skills can be highly beneficial. These workshops are cost-effective and allow you to gauge your interest and aptitude in hand engraving without the need for a significant upfront financial investment.
Ultimately, exploring these different options can help you determine the best path forward in pursuing hand engraving as either a hobby or a professional pursuit.
Lastly, I would recommend that if you decide to learn from an instructor in an intensive workshop or class, seek out someone who has experience and expertise in the specific area you wish to focus on. It's important to find an instructor who has either done or is currently engaged in the type of work you aspire to do. Additionally, look for an instructor who is adaptable and willing to teach you what you personally want to learn, rather than strictly following a predetermined curriculum.
By finding an instructor who aligns with your specific interests and goals, you will have a better opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills that are most relevant to your desired path in hand engraving. This personalized approach can greatly enhance your learning experience and help you progress in the areas that matter most to you.