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Tributes “engraved in the sand”

engraved sand portraits

Last weekend we saw the nation come together in the culmination of memorial events for all who fell in war and, especially, World War I.

People up and down the country recognised the sacrifice that others made for our wellbeing, with the final focus being at the Cenotaph in London where the dates of the First World War are engraved in Roman numerals at each end.

This concluded proceedings across Britain, including the knitting of thousands of poppies, processions in every town and village, and the release of the utterly compelling and moving film from Peter Jackson.

However, what caught our attention most of all was perhaps the tribute directed by Danny Boyle on the beaches.

The Oscar winning director invited members of the public to assemble at a number of beaches in the UK where large scale portraits of casualties from the war were made in the sand.

Creating the images of people like Wilfred Owen at low-tide, the portraits were admired by thousands of people on the ground (and around the world).

As Mr Boyle said, the beaches of England were the places from which millions of men and women left to take part in the war, and so was a fitting place to remember what they did for us when they left our shores.

Moreover, beaches are amongst the few truly public spaces, and so was a natural convening point for everyone to show their respects.

But, perhaps most powerfully of all, was the way that the portraits were lost to the sea as high tides came in.

Just as men took to the sea over 100 years ago to fight for their country, so the sea was reclaiming their memory again.

What was also of note to us here at Engravers Guild was how one news outlet described the portraits as being “engraved” in the sand.

As we perennially comment about how engravings last forever, this appeared a contradiction of terms – especially given how the images lasted only a few hours.

However, what the portraits on the beach created was a visual tribute that will forever be remembered by everyone who saw it.

While the art “engraved” in the sand was fleeting, the impression “engraved” in our memories will be lasting.

So just as those portraits were engraved in the sand, so our thanks to those who fell in the war are engraved in our hearts.

A wedding a-“band”-oned

engraved wedding band

At Engravers Guild of London, we believe not only that a personal engraving is very special but that is also can be a connection with the heart.

And so we couldn’t overlook a story this week about how a well-meaning person is trying to use an engraving to reconnect a wedding ring with its owner.

The gold band was found in Arnold town centre in Nottinghamshire, with the letters A and P inscribed, along with the date of 15.9.55.

A tweet in the last few days with photos and details of the ring went viral.

The plea to find the couple has generated almost 20,000 retweets and 10,000 likes – but, alas, the campaign has still not revealed any clues.

Searches through Nottingham marriage certificates have similarly not shed any light.

Found by the wife of a Nottingham Forest football fan three years ago, the ring was almost forgotten about as she soon afterwards gave birth to a baby boy.

Upon discovering the piece of jewellery again this year, her husband decided to appeal on the internet for any leads as to the rightful owner.

Many suggestions have been submitted, but none have so far delivered any results.

Those of us at Engravers Guild would obviously love for the wedding band to find its original home again.

But, even if it doesn’t, it shows how much of a story is held within an engraving.

Thousands of people all around the world have been captivated by a small inscription made in metal by a diamond-tipped cutter.

The message is not profound, in fact it means very little at all. But just the simple act of a totally personal mark on an indelible surface has the power to communicate great sentiment and evoke wandering thoughts.

In the workshop, we are always delighted to engrave people’s special wedding dates. Our personalised cufflinks and engraved pocket watches are favoured mementos for the big occasion.

Have a browse of our collection of gifts for grooms and page boys, and select something which will forever hold a memory of your special day.

…just… try not to lose it in Arnold town centre.

Remembrance engraved on a canteen

engraved drinks canteen

Everyone knows someone who has been affected by war. Whether it be grandparents, friends serving in the armed forces, or relatives abroad.

This weekend, the country will be coming to a standstill at 11am on Sunday to remember those who lost their lives in times of war – both in conflicts of the past and in the many war-torn areas of the world today.

We thought it fitting, therefore, to remember those who have fallen through an engraving.

Over 100 years ago, a captive Russian soldier engraved a scene of two people snuggling together on an aluminium water bottle.

The canteen was found in Czersk, a part of modern-day Poland.

It was the site of a German prisoner-of-war camp, where an estimated 1,200 captives died in 1918 alone.

Despite being buried for almost a century in wet and sticky mud, the engraving has lived on to be a remarkable reminder of such dark times that went before.

The origins of the scene are not entirely known. It could be a sentimental memory depicting the owner and his sweetheart.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that the person who created this delicate engraving lived beyond his time in the camp.

Epidemics of typhus and Spanish flu were common, with the belongings of the dead quickly disposed of as they were considered contaminated.

Today, we can only guess as to who the people are in the engraved motif and what their story was – their story being just one amongst the millions of others that were touched by war.

At least a small part of the essence of their memory lives on through the engraving.

Where flesh and blood returns to nature, an engraving is enduring. Having survived for almost a century in wet and sticky mud, the engraving is still resplendent and with all the life as when it was first delicately created by its owner.

So thank you to the engraver for helping us to remember those who gave the ultimate in times of war, and for making us appreciate our own lives today.

Engraving 50 years of Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren engraved watch

At Engravers Guild of London, we are proud followers of British design and tout our national talent as being the best in the world.

But even we have to acknowledge the greatness of designers from outside our shores and the incredible impact they have had on the global industry.

One such titan of fashion certainly deserves our praise… none other than the icon, Ralph Lauren.

Starting as a salesman for a tie company in 1968, he has come a long way since his early foray into clothes.

Today, his empire is valued at over $7 billion, and he considers showbiz royalty as some of his most loyal customers.

2018 marked the 50th year of Ralph Lauren, and to celebrate the achievement of his career there was a series of special events.

During New York Fashion Week, his show was broadcast live to the nation from Central Park.

Attendees included Robert De Niro, Hilary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey to name but a few. But, despite the roll call of celebrities, there was no doubt about what was the star attraction of the evening.

To commemorate the milestone, a very special collection was commissioned… which especially caught our attention.

Although Ralph Lauren may be most famous for his Polo range of preppy clothes, or his enduring fragrances, or his line of handbags… none of those items were chosen for the special collection.

Instead, he had made a selection which would not be completely out of place on the Engravers Guild site, namely: pocket watches and gentleman’s watches.

To add to that, all of the items were…engraved.

Beautiful hand engravings adorned the surface of all of the timepieces, all designed to record and elevate the notable occasion for posterity.

Coverage from around the world all noted how these items are unique in their finish.

Indeed, this is not something that is new to us, for any engraving (whether carried out by a Ralph Lauren artisan or one of our professional engravers) makes an indelible mark like no other that will forever make the piece one of a kind.

So if you, like Ralph, have a special occasion to celebrate, do try and emulate him and browse our selection of personalised pocket watches.

London engraves a Walk of Fame

Royal Albert Hall Engraved Walk of Fame

We at Engravers Guild, obviously think that London is the best city in the world.

It is one of the most innovative places on the planet, and home to creations such as the daily newspaper, insurance, and the bourbon biscuit.

However, even we have to acknowledge when other global cities have come up with a truly good idea… at which point London duly copies.

One such example is that most feted of tourist attractions for celebrity followers – the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame.

The famous strip of pavement is a who’s who of silver screen icons, singing divas, and legendary directors, and is an important record of cultural history.

In London, we have been lacking such homage to famous faces, until now.

The Royal Albert Hall, one of the most prestigious performing venues anywhere, has just unveiled the beginning of its very own Walk of Fame.

This Walk of Fame, though, is slightly different to it’s American cousin as it is… engraved.

Consisting of a name engraving, a dedication and small brass star, the new paving stones are set around the outside of the building and feature notable figures who have delivered material within the venue.

Some of the big names include: Eric Clapton, Dame Shirley Bassey, Roger Daltry of The Who, and Adele.

But importantly it is not just entertainers who are recognised.

Sir Winston Churchill gave a number of important speeches here between 1911 and 1950, and so his name is recorded for posterity.

So too is Albert Einstein, who spoke here in 1933 about his concerns of Nazi power in Europe.

And Muhammed Ali made three appearances here between 1971 and 1979, so he also has a stone engraved with his name.

Indeed, the beauty of an engraving is that it lasts for time immemorial – something which we at Engravers Guild believe has immense value.

While we cannot offer your own stone in London’s Walk of Fame, we do present a beautiful range of personalised gifts which help capture and cherish your sentiment and memories.

Is that an engraved “Hair-ley Davidson”?

microscopic engraved gift

Ok, our last blog post introduced the work of Willard Wigan, the micro engraver from Birmingham who has made a name for himself around the world creating art in the eye of a needle.

But we were holding back on, what we think, is possibly the most astonishing creation ever seen (or, more accurately… seen with very great difficulty).

We tried to describe how small some of the sculptures were that Mr Wigan produced, but this one really does blow our minds in its microscopic proportions.

In 2013, Willard Wigan crafted his tiniest work to date.

After having a shave, the micro-engraver touched his face with his finger and found a tiny dot of hair embedded in his fingerprint.

He took this fleck of stubble.

Then he hollowed out the piece of hair.

And, with a spec of gold smaller than a human blood cell, carved the inimitable detail of the classic Orange County Chopper bicycle.

The tiny artwork took 16 hours a day for five weeks to make, and measures just three microns in length.

So small and fragile is the bike, that Willard had to control the pulse in his finger as even that would have been strong enough to crush the sculpture.

To give another sense of the scale of the piece, not even a dust mite would be small enough to ride the Chopper bike.

The item was created to see just how small something could be made, and Mr Wigan has said that even he surprised himself with what could be done.

He was awarded an MBE by the Queen in 2007, and today sees his creations sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds.

As a rule, the smaller they get then the more expensive they become. So, if this is the smallest artwork that can be created, then we only wonder at how much this personalised gift could be.

Hello Willard Wigan: Engraver Extroadinaire

Willard Wigan micro engraver

At Engravers Guild of London, it’s understandable that we like to keep abreast of all things about engraving.

When Obama gifted engraved items to David Cameron, we knew about it. When there was a mistake in the engraving at the Golden Globes, we knew about it. And when the engraver of the Wimbledon tennis tournament retired, we knew about it.

However, what we cannot fathom is… how we didn’t know about Willard Wigan at all until now.

Like a TV addict discovering “Game of Thrones” for the first time or an art lover making their first trip to the Sistine Chapel, for us to come across Willard Wigan is an almost spiritual experience.

Mr Wigan is a micro engraver.

When we use the word “micro”, we literally mean infinitesimally small.

So tiny are his creations that they must be viewed through a microscope to see them.

And so delicate must his touch be to sculpt them, he holds his hand still and uses the movement of his pulse to act as a chisel against the surface.

A feature of much of his work is that it is housed in the eye of a needle.

From nine camels to superheroes to nativity scenes and Henry VIII with his six wives, he has crafted wonderful and arresting scenes which simply take your breath away.

Mr Wigan’s obsession with making things ever smaller started at an early age.

When he was a child he disturbed an ants’ nest and, thinking that all the ants were homeless, set about making them little houses from wood splinters.

His mother, amazed at how small her son’s creations became, told him that if he kept making them smaller then his name would get bigger.

Today, Willard Wigan’s sculptures fill the pages of international publications, are gifted to some of the most famous people in the world and sell for large fortunes.

So great is his body of work that we cannot resist another feature on him shortly, so watch this space to learn more.

An engraving to remember a great man

At Engravers Guild of London, we always remark how an engraving should last for time immemorial.

Our personalised pocket watches, hip flasks and other gifts are designed to endure forever, with the idea being that a fleeting moment or achievement can continue to live on.

Although we associate this more with the high spirited occasions of life – such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and awards – engravings also serve an important role in helping us to remember those who are no longer with us.

Our engraved lockets, for example, are sometimes bought as a keepsake for those who want to cherish precious memories of a loved one.

Of course, one of the most enduring impressions people leave behind is with the inscription on their headstone.

The engraving represents an important focal point to remember the person, and we feel it should be an appropriate and fitting footnote to the life that was lived.

As such, we’re pleased this week to read that a man who contributed so much to Britain will finally have the engraved tribute that he deserves.

William Blake, the celebrated poet and painter, died in obscurity in 1827. He wrote the words to the wonderful hymn “Jerusalem”, and contributed much throughout his lifetime to our cultural heritage.

Unfortunately, though, perhaps the full value of what he gave to the country was not recognised as it should have been, and he was buried in a public grave in London with the precise whereabouts unknown.

However, thanks to the work of the Blake Society, his final resting place has been discovered and £30,000 has been raised to create a more fitting headstone.

On the surface of the stone is to be engraved some of his own words:

‘I give you the end of a golden string / Only wind it into a ball / It will lead you in at Heavens gate / Built in Jerusalem’s wall.’

With that engraving we like to think that a little more of the man lives on in our memories, and we join others to celebrate his achievements.

Oh to be engraved on the World Cup

engraved world cup

“It’s coming home, it’s coming home; It’s coming, football’s coming home”.

After years of disappointed and underachieving, Gareth Southgate’s band of men is delivering the best attempt to win the World Cup since 1990 when England went out to Germany on penalties in the semi finals.

Today, Kane and Co. find themselves just two matches away from World Cup glory, with victory bringing the privilege to have their nation’s name engraved on the trophy of all trophies.

Despite it being perhaps the most recognised sporting tournament in the world, the cup itself does not actually boast such a long history.

Only commissioned in 1970, it was to replace the Jules Rimet trophy (the one that England won in 1966).

Apparently Jules Rimet, who was the instigator of the first World Cup tournament, desired that the cup be owned in perpetuity by the first team to win it three times.

When Brazil achieved this feat in 1970, the search for a new cup began.

53 submissions were reviewed by FIFA, and the design was awarded to an Italian sculptor,  Silvio Gazzaniga.

Like the Jules Rimet trophy, it measures 35cm high and is made of 5 kilograms of 18 carat gold, which would cost about $200,000.

The design is of two figures supporting a globe and spiralling upwards in the moment of victory.

But now for the engraving…

Unlike many of the older trophies for major sporting competitions, the engraving actually plays quite a low-key role. On the front of the base is the only visible engraving, where there is written “FIFA World Cup”.

But there is more engraving that lurks beneath…

…quite literally. Because all of the historic winners of the trophy are engraved on the bottom of the base in a spiral formation.

Who knows, give it a few more days and there may be an additional country listed… the country that is the home of football.

Engraving the ‘little’ Royal Wedding

Harry and Meghan engraved

He’s only gone and done it again!

At Engravers Guild, we must profess our fandom for none other than the most mighty of engravers… Graham Short.

We’ve already written a number of articles on his creations which are renowned for being some of the smallest engravings ever made.

There was the inscription of “Impossible Is Nothing’ along the sharp edge of a razor blade, there was the Lord’s Prayer on the head of a pin, and last year there was a series of portraits on the new £5 notes which were invisible to the naked eye.

This time, he has retained the microscopic proportions and captured a day which warmed the hearts of millions across the globe – the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

On the top of a tiny gold needle, Mr Short engraved a portrait of the happy couple, complete with date and names.

To give an idea of small it is, the width of a human hair is about 100 microns, and the miniaturist engraver has been working to only four microns.

Such is the precision required to execute these works of art, Graham works only in the dead of night when traffic vibrations are at their lowest.

He takes beta blockers to slow his heart to 20 beats per minute, and then wears a stethoscope when working to ensure that he only draws a stroke between beats.

It’s a long process, taking months to create works of art that are so small they can only be viewed through a microscope.

Despite it sounding like a labour of love, the artist actually says: “It’s such a frustrating job and I really dislike doing it!”

Still it’s clear that people up and down the country love the results of his long hours.

This particular piece of work was commissioned by the THH Gallery in Kelso on the Scottish Borders, and we look forward to putting the personalised gifts to one side for the weekend as we leave to go and take a visit.