hand engraving class
Ray Cover's School of Fine Art Engraving. (Image courtesy of Ray Cover)

School of Fine Art Engraving Hosts Five-Day Basic Engraving Class


Though many retailers primarily use laser technology, there are still opportunities to learn about hand engraving, the roots of modern engraving practices. Ray Cover, owner of School of Fine Art Engraving, is hosting a five-day workshop on the basics of hand engraving, May 5-9 at the school’s location, 106A State Hwy P, Potosi, Missouri. Cover has been teaching these classes for over 15 years.

“I personally believe it is better for students to take a basic class before spending a lot of time at the bench working with their tools,” says Cover. “If they try to figure it out on their own without taking a class first, they tend to develop bad habits that need to be corrected during the class. If they start their engraving journey with a class, they can learn the correct habits from the start, and will be better off in the long run.”

He adds, “Engraving takes a lot of practice to master just like any other art medium or skill. There is muscle memory to build and that only comes through repetitive practice.”

Cover reports that he’s recently rewritten his curriculum for this year, and regrouped the teaching processes and content for basic classes. “I decided to use the two main basic scroll structures: one based on ‘J-hook’ style leaf structures, and one based on standard leaf structures. I carried this over into the curriculum of my basic classes by tossing out the Mckenzie- and Nimschke-based designs that I had been using and replacing them with Western Gun Scroll and Bold American scroll,” he elaborates, saying that he has seen students have more success with this approach.

The following covers the general structure of this new curriculum:

  • Day one: making and sharpening gravers, basic cutting techniques, and proper cutting form and technique.
  • Day two: outlining basic scroll designs, leaf shapes (how they are constructed and cut), and script lettering 
  • Day three: edge borders, decorative borders, Bold American Scroll, and Western Gun Scroll patterns. 
  • Day four: continue the scroll patterns, background techniques, introduction to shading techniques.
  • Day five: continuation of shading techniques, and finishing up the week’s project plate.

Along with the regularly scheduled content, Cover says he typically leaves the studio open in the evenings so that any students who want to stay and get extra practice can do so. “I am not instructing during these evening open studio times,” he warns, “but it is extra time after class each day for students to practice on their own.”

The workshop is limited to eight students. Those interested can secure a spot by submitting the $200 deposit. The workshop costs $700; the deposit counts toward this total. All materials and equipment for the class are provided, but students are asked to bring their own note-taking materials. 

To register, contact Cover via email or phone, 314-808-2508, with your name, email, phone number, and address. The deposit can be paid by check to the address above, by Paypal (directed to cover@sbcglobal.net), or by calling Cover with your credit card information.

Students can see the class schedule and updates on the School of Fine Art Engraving’s website, www.learningtoengrave.com.

“I look forward to seeing that light bulb moment for the students,” says Cover. “I love seeing the smile on a student’s face when they practice and practice, and finally it all falls into place.”

Cover will also host a follow-up workshop for intermediates, taking place on June 11-15. 

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