historic HTL-Steyr Institute of Technology in Schlüsselhofgasse,
Austria (top). Steyrs Exhibit Gallery (bottom).
Carole Hall had been engraving for 40 years when the opportunity of a lifetime
came knocking at her door. The 62-year-old artist and watercolor teacher
was happily running her engraving business, Crysta-Line, Inc. in Rochester,
NY, when an artisan approached her about engraving some steel guitars.
was asked to engrave floral images resembling chrysanthemums on the metal
encasements surrounding the artisans collectible handcrafted wooden
guitars, the type of guitars that sell for thousands of dollars and take
years to make.
about a project that would expand her engraving skills, Carole jumped at
the chance. For years, Carole had been engraving similar images onto glass
and crystal gifts and awards using a diamond point hand drilling process,
and she welcomed the opportunity to broaden her artistic endeavors. However,
she knew she needed more training and experience before taking on her first
commission. I wanted to learn new ways of engraving metal and also
how to enhance what I already knew about engraving, she says.
when Carole came face to face with the kind of opportunity that she would
never have imagined in her wildest dreams. While shopping on the Internet
for hand engraving teachers, she discovered master engraver Martin Strolz
and the historic HTL-Steyr Institute of Technology in Austria, where the
renown metal engraver teaches his craft. She also learned that the school
was offering a pilot program designed specifically for foreign students
that centered on various metal hand engraving techniques.
immediately contacted Martin to ask if she could study at the Austrian school.
After reviewing her qualifications and engraving samples, Martin invited
her and Mark Maxwell, an American master bench jeweler, to be the first
guest students to attend the 10-week program in April and May
a few adversities, including the fact that the war in Iraq was breaking
out the very same day as her flight, Carol embraced the adventure with enthusiasm.
As an older woman, I found that the trip was not easy physically,
mentally or financially, Carole says. But I made the decision
to take this moment in time and grasp it as a chance of a lifetime for me.
Because there are no master engravers of the European tradition
in the U.S., I felt it was a tremendous opportunity to be the first American
invited to the school and to be a part of helping to attract other American
using an air pressure-driven power-assist hand engraving
began with the basics, learning how to make her own hand engraving
tools and the techniques of using a variety of hand tools, including
a hammer and chisel.
more than 1,100 students and 135 teachers, HTL-Steyr prepares students
for a range of trades and crafts through four different departments: mechanical
engineering, automotive engineering, electronics and applied arts and
crafts. Students as young as 14 travel from afar to live in the dormitories
while studying and learning a trade in the four-year program. They must
demonstrate serious talent and dedication to their chosen fields to be
accepted into the school.
are very selective of our students, says Martin. They must
be extremely talented to come here. Otherwise, we feel we would be wasting
our time since the goal is to train people for a highly-respected lifetime
there, the students work extremely hard, balancing a full course load
of theory-based classes with long hours of hands-on workshops designed
to hone and fine-tune their growing skills.
engraving program at HTL-Steyr is part of the 120-year-old Arts and Crafts
College and it is here that students train to become engravers, goldsmiths,
silversmiths, blacksmiths, jewelers, metal sculptors and artists. After
completing their studies, they often find jobs in graphic design, molding
and the firearms industry, and many take over existing family businesses
or start their own engraving companies.
can obtain a world-class engraving education in our school, says
Martin, who began his own engraving career at HTL-Steyr when he was 14.
In addition to hand engraving classes, we provide a solid background
in 15 theoretical subjects, which support the trade.
institutes curriculum also offers classes in geography, history,
mathematics, chemistry, economic education, business administration, technology,
history of the arts, creative drawing, applied information technology,
project design and the German and English languages.
todays modern engraving industry is mostly technologically driven,
Martin says students at HTL-Steyr acquire a deeper understanding of engraving
that enhances their careers. It makes them special to have this
skill, he says. We think that students are well prepared for
the working life.
student, regardless of specialization, is urged to attend courses covering
the general aspects of each technical discipline, Martin explains. Throughout
their four years at the institution, 17 hours a week are dedicated to
hands-on training in workshops and an additional 8 hours a week are devoted
to technical instruction and specialized drawing, resulting in a total
of 39 hours a week including requisite studies.
full-time students begin with the basics, learning how to make their own
hand engraving tools and the techniques of using a variety of hand tools,
including a hammer and chisels. Engraving skills taught at the school
include a variety of hand engraving techniques, such as monogram lettering,
engraving for printing purposes, gun engraving, chiseled ornamentation
and flat and relief inlay techniques.
school doesnt, however, stop at hand engraving. Students also have
the opportunity to learn how to custom grind engraving and milling tools
and work with various machines, including a lathe, drill press and hydraulic
minting press. Technology courses cover CNC (computerized engraving) basics,
2D CNC engraving with a Gravograph-New Hermes machine and CAD/CAM programming
using iSIGN and HCAM software. We go through all the most important
features of the programs, such as layout, drawing, text and font editor
operations, the editing process and the tool path, Martin says.
Other programs include:
Advanced CNC engraving and milling with a LANG engraving machine
Cutting of steel stamps
Making dies, modeling in clay and making models in epoxy resin
Sign-making, computerized engraving in all kinds of materials
Embossing in copper
the practical teaching in the workshops, I give lessons in the subject
technology for engravers and metal workers, he says. We give
a superb well-rounded education in engraving while guiding them in practical
Maxwell, an American master bench jeweler, along with Carole was one
of the first "guest students."
taught Carole new and better things about engraving. "He can just look
at a picture and reproduce the image on metal using tiny dots,
Opportunity of a Lifetime
the Spring of 2003, HTL-Steyr started piloting the 10-week basic hand
engraving course that Carole Hall and Mark Maxwell were fortunate enough
to participate in. In preparation for the course, Martin created a textbook
that covered graver types and their preparation, as well as instructions
on various hand engraving techniques, such as ornamental engraving, English
scrolls, monograms and inlaying of precious metals. Martin also included
the exquisite, but complicated, Bulino engraving, a process
that involves using a square graver and hand force to engrave very fine
lines or dots into metal to create pictorial designs. A skilled engraver
can use the Bulino technique to create extremely high definition images,
including full 3D effects and varying gray tones to achieve true photographic
Carole, the two-month adventure was challenging, but she says she would
do it again without thinking twice. Not only did her flight leave the
day the war broke out, but an ice storm hit Toronto where her flight departed
for Austria. Everybody thought I was crazy, but I told them you
only get one chance in your life to do something like this, so I am going!
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, Carole kept up a stringent schedule learning
and practicing the basics of hand engraving. The first step was to learn
to prepare her own hand engraving tools, including learning about graver
face and heel angles along with how to sand and
polish the gravers to produce a smooth, bright cut. She started her engraving
lesson by practicing straight and curved lines on the metal an eighth
of an inch apart before moving on to the more challenging Bulino technique.
Carole also learned the art of silversmithing and used her newfound skills
to make a necklace for her daughter.
was extremely impressed with Martins skills and abilities. Martin
taught me new and better things about engraving. He could just look at
a picture and reproduce the image on metal using tiny dots, she
says. He does beautiful work and will spend hours and hours to complete
one engraving. It isnt always easy to study under Martin because
hes meticulous and a perfectionist, not just with his own work,
but with that of his students. He gets very excited when the job is done
well, but hes very staunch and hard when students arent doing
what he asks. If its not right, hell make his students do
it over and over until it is right.
Strolz began his own engraving career at HTL-Steyr when he was 14
and is now a teacher there.
students learning computer layout and design.
become a master engraver in Austria, Martin had to apprentice for three
and a half years, work in the profession for three more years and pass
a state-regulated test that includes completing a bench test masterpiece
as well as a written exam. Now, students can pass the test after only
one year of studying at HTL-Steyr, Martin says.
addition to teaching, Martin engraves fine hand-made hunting arms in his
own small studio, a passion he developed during his teen years studying
at the Institute. When he graduated, he went to Ferlach, Austria, to refine
and deepen his engraving skills and pursue his passion of gun engraving
under a renowned engraver of the time, Hans Singer. His engraving skills
developed quickly and the second rifle he engraved was featured in the
book Ilincinsione delle Armi Sportive, by Mario Abbiatico.
Two years after leaving the school, he passed the state-regulated certification
and received his masters degree in engraving.
graduating, he worked for Hans Singer for four years, taking on a variety
of gun-engraving projects before launching his own business and workshop
in the same city. Martin taught at the Ferlach School for a year, where
he discovered that he liked teaching. I found teaching to be stimulating,
he says. I enjoyed the interaction with my students. It was a unique
chance for me to pass on my knowledge of technique and design style.
1986, when HTL-Steyr was looking for a hand engraver, they approached
Martin and he moved back to his former school. He was motivated by his
desire to bring Ferlach gun engraving techniques to HTL-Steyr. He also
sought to combine the traditions of both Austrian schools and renew the
existing curriculum to offer a broader variety of skills to students.
he continues to pursue and take on engraving projects in addition to teaching.
With his extensive experience, he is an expert in a variety of engraving
techniques, from relief engravings to fine Bulino engraved scenes surrounded
by various ornamental motifs to gold inlays. Martin continues to work
with Lechner & Jungl, a company he began working with back in his
days in Ferlach. The historic company (founded in 1821) builds fine single-
and double-barrel rifles, bolt action rifles and shotguns and has an excellent
reputation for restoring classing English doubles and shotguns.
prefers working with the most basic hand-held tools, such as gravers,
hammers and chisels, and doesnt use any air pressure-driven power-assist
hand engraving devices. Traditional tools allow me to have a better
feel for the material, and the results show it. My clients are looking
for the highest quality.
also uses a hand held magnifier for engraving highly-detailed scenes.
On occasion, he even uses a low power microscope that magnifies
the image 10 times, which helps Martin create extremely fine-detailed
skills taught at the school include a variety of hand engraving techniques,
such as monogram lettering, engraving for printing purposes, gun engraving,
chiseled ornamentation and flat and relief inlay techniques.
of a motif with gold inlay.
International Students Welcome
developed the pilot program because he hopes to develop a reputation on
the international level. Already, he has received inquiries from such
countries as Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Hungary, Peru and
opening our school to the world beyond Austria, we are offering a very
rare opportunity to a few dedicated students to learn the art of engraving
from the basics of drawing and design to the practical skills of cutting
and modeling, Martin says. I am proud of the tradition and
especially of the level of education offered here.
Hall highly recommends the school to serious engraving students, particularly
those who wish to pursue hand engraving. I have long felt that something
needs to be done to further the arts in the engraving fields here in America,
she says. Because of new technology and the quick high production
approach to engraving processes, the work of the real artisan, as in many
art fields, is going to slip out of sight unless we try our best to continue
an education offered by only a few schools here.
is absolutely one of the best and most efficiently run schools I have
ever been in, she continues, and I encourage American students
to consider attending to learn hand engraving. The schools walls
hold much history in the engraving arts, and the institution has much
to offer aspiring art students who have an engraving flair or established
artisans such as myself who have a desire to expand their engraving skills.
Note: In the March/April 1987 issue of EJ there was another interesting
article about Carole entitled, Crysta-Lyne By Carole, Drilling into
Crystal. If you would like to purchase this back issue visit us at
example of a die hub was made using high precision 3D diesinking.
Martin graduated from Steyr, he went to Ferlach, Austria, to refine
and deepen his engraving skills and pursue his passion of gun engraving
under a renowned engraver, Hans Singer.