0

Search

Register for Updates

Journal

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.

What costs more… the Rolex or the engraving?

engraved rolex submariner

At Engravers Guild, we like to think we’re a modest bunch. But, that said, we do feel rather self-satisfied when such esteemed news outlets like The Daily Telegraph are still catching up with us.

Followers of this blog will not have been able to overlook our continual coverage of prized auction lots… often defined by their engraving.

A watch gifted by Steve McQueen and another gifted by Elvis Presley have both featured on our web pages, and been a showpiece for us in the value that an engraving can bestow.

And just this week we noted that the Tele has just caught up with our understanding, writing a feature using our same examples.

Still, to give credit where credit’s due, the venerable newspaper has brought our attention to something that we were previously not aware.

Namely, Steve McQueen was such a prolific giver of Rolex wristwatches that there is another coming under the hammer this year in the autumn.

The esteemed auction house, Philips in Geneva, has on their books a Rolex Submariner that was given by the Hollywood star to his stuntman, Loren James.

A nice story. But where the watch really comes to life is in the engraved message on the back.

Inscribed into the reverse of the timepiece are the words: “Loren the best damn stuntsman in the world, Steve”.

The writer of the Telegraph article notes that any watch claiming an association with Steve McQueen it likely to enjoy a hefty uplift… but with such evidence of the provenance like this, the price is likely to “go into orbit”.

With a 600,000 USD suggested sale price, the cost is already eye-watering to most.

But, by the standard for such pieces, some believe that represents a bargain.

Time will tell just how much the market really thinks it’s worth. But, if it might be slightly out of your range, do think about one of our beautifully engraved gifts as an alternative.

An engraved gift… fit for a Prince

Prince Harry engraved gift

It wasn’t just Meghan’s “Big Day”, but a Big Day for the world, as an estimated 2 billion people watched some of the ceremony and 19 million Brits followed the whole thing.

And no wedding would be complete without the celebrity guest list.

Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, the Beckhams, Elton John and almost the whole cast of Suits were there to witness the event and bask in their reflected glory.

However, notable for their absence were the politicians.

No foreign dignitaries, Parliamentarians, or even Barack Obama made the guest list, there being a serving blacklist of anyone deemed of political persuasion.

While this kept Donald Trump and Co. off UK shores, it didn’t stop them having some part to play in proceedings, albeit small.

Because while they may not have been there in person, there was nothing stopping them from contributing a wedding gift… often announced to the world via Twitter.

In keeping with the request from the happy couple, most gifts took the form of a donation to a chosen charity.

The Australian Prime Minister made a donation to the Invictus Games, which will be hosted down under later this year. Meanwhile Justin Trudeau even pledged $50,000 to a Canadian cause.

The French, though, like to do things their own way… and a way that we here approve of at Engravers Guild.

For the President from Paris, M Emmanuel Macron, followed his country’s own tradition when it comes to Royal weddings, gifting a personalised piece from the ST Dupont brand.

The gift, from the 007 Collection, features a pen and lighter.

Apparently this custom of giving a bespoke gift goes back to the time when the Queen married Prince Philip, with the couple receiving a personalised travel case from the French Republic.

And, more recently, President Nicolas Sarkozy gave the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge two engraved cases, containing pens and a lighter, for their nuptials.

While many of our readers may not have a French President on their invite list, look no further if you are still secretly seeking to receive a pen and lighter to commemorate your betrothal…

Our range of personalised lighters brings the very best of the most famous lighter brands together, and our pens are exquisitely made by Clewley in Birmingham.

…then who can say that your Big Day doesn’t match up to that of Harry and Meghan.

Wenger receives engraved gift from Fergie

As the 2017-18 football season draws to a close, so also does Arsene Wenger’s time at Arsenal Football Club.

The longest-standing manager in the Premier League, he took over at the North London club in 1996 and led the team to ten major trophies, including seven FA Cups.

Bringing together top talent (often from France), new training regimes, diet programmes and mind coaching, he pioneered a new style of football in England, and won a slew of trophies for the Gunners.

The most successful manager in Arsenal history, his 2004 side was known as The Invincibles for never losing a game, and created new records in the number of games going unbeaten.

But, as every protagonist knows, they are often measured in comparison to their greatest antagonist. And, for Arsene Wenger, it was most definitely Sir Alex Ferguson.

Managing to top two teams in the Premier League respectively, the two managers were each others’ greatest adversaries and were known for taking aim at the other in match interviews.

With Sir Alex advising Arsene to stick to Japanese football (a country which he had previously managed in) and the Frenchman exclaiming that he will “never speak about that man again”, relations between the two were frosty at best.

However, with time comes understanding. And as Mr Wenger made his last visit to Old Trafford, it was Sir Alex who was there to present the manager with a farewell gift.

Before the game, an extremely large commemorative trophy was presented to Arsene Wenger.

As per all the best gifts, on it was engraved: “Presented to Arsene Wenger by Sir Alex Ferguson CBE and Jose Mourinho, on behalf of Manchester United Football Club in recognition of his services and achievements at Arsenal Football Club. 1996 to 2018.”

It even changed hands with a smile and a nod between the two men.

So there you have it. If you want to build bridges and create a sense of nostalgia, look no further than a personalised pocket watch, engraved cufflinks or custom hip flask… and you can make your own history too.

Meghan’s engraved gift to… Meghan

meghan markle's personalised jewellery

It’s Royal wedding season and all eyes are on the bride-to-be, speculating on what style she’ll opt for and what she might wear.

To glimpse into the future, therefore, we have to look back on her past for any clues about her sartorial preferences.

And one story in particular caught the attention of us here at Engravers Guild.

When is comes to her accessories, Meghan seems to like her things personalised.

One example is when she would wear her own’s family’s jewellery on the show “Suits”. Meghan’s character, Rachel Zane, was developed to come across less as a fashionista and more with timeless elegance, and so she wore her own signet ring.

The beauty of this, also, is that Meghan’s christened first name is actually Rachel, and the signet ring was already engraved with her initial.

Another demonstration of her penchant for personalisation is in her watch.

When “Suits” was commissioned for a third season, Meghan has told of how “it felt like such a milestone – I totally splurged”.

Her gift of choice for herself was a Cartier Tank Francais timepiece, coming in at a cool £5,000.

On the back, the princess to be had engraved “To M.M. / From M.M.”

As we have always said on this blog, the beauty of an engraving is that is lasts forever – it is time immemorial. Meghan agrees, and she even went on to say, “That’s what makes pieces special, the connection you have to them”.

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

And so, true to this sentiment, Meghan has said that she wants to give the Cartier with the inscription to her daughter one day.

Should any of our readers be looking for a timepiece for themselves – perhaps a personalised pocket watch – then go that little extra with a bespoke engraving.

Make the engraving witty, or memorable, or meaningful… and that way, you are creating the beginning of a story that not only you have a connection with, but also future owners of the piece.

Diplomacy by personalised gifts

Trump and macron personalised gifts

Today we live in a world where increasingly we talk of hard power – the kind that comes with weapons, bombs and military force.

Russia, North Korea, China, Syria, even America… are all posturing about how ‘might’ wins the fight.

But that it not to say that soft power has no place.

International bragging rights aren’t forged just on the size of missiles in an arsenal, but also the implicit messages in communication.

Never is this more pronounced than when a state visit is held, and next week President Donald Trump has the pleasure of hosting President Emmanuel Macron.

As ever, the details of the gifts have been released ahead of time… a precursor, as it were, to the the tone that the two leaders want to bring to the occasion.

And, also, as ever, personalised gifts feature highly on the packing lists.

For M. Macron, the Donald has prepared two gifts.

The first is a framed section of upholstery from a chair in the White House. The chair features a golden eagle – a symbol of America – sitting proudly and eminently upon the backrest of the furniture.

And, to complement this, a silver Tiffany bowl is being presented with the Presidential seal engraved on the side and the Donald’s and Melania’s signatures.

Any guesses for the sentiment behind the Trumps’ gifts?

Perhaps that America is strong again, and that Donald Trump is the boss. He’s the one who hires and fires.

President Macron, though, might be just as expressive with his choice of gift.

As Mr Trump pulls the USA out of the momentous Paris Climate Agreement (something which Emmanuel Macron has oft criticised), the French President has chosen to gift a sapling tree.

The tree is a European sessile oak which comes from a World War I battlefield in France where many US soldiers lost their lives.

Any guesses for the sentiment behind this gift?

Perhaps… that if the world fails to protect the environment, then lives will be lost.

This, anyhow, is our interpretation of the meaning behind the personalised gifts. Ultimately, the beauty of an engraved gift it how it is understood between the giver and the recipient.

So should you be needing to exert any of your own ‘soft power’, look at our personalised cufflinks, our engraved hip flasks and our special pocket watches to communicate your own special sentiment,