Long before wine bottles became my most frequent engraving jobs, crystal held the number one spot.  Still get lots of it…mostly Waterford©…and it remains one of my top 2-3 favorite items to personalize with the drill.

This one is typical of the amount of information that goes on a vase…or is that a ‘vhauze.’  As always, the layout is the most critical part of the process.  Being able to do the letters perfectly is a good thing.  Being able to get those delicious characters arranged and placed just right is another challenge altogether.

According to my notes, this entire job was done with a #4 round carbide…a brand new one popped out of its individual envelope from MIDWEST DENTAL SUPPLY where all my burs live until I order a small batch.  My annual expenditure on burs is under $600.  At two bucks apiece, I get lots of mileage from each.  However, most often, I’ll begin a piece of crystal with a new one.

The copy from the customer was written on a sheet of notebook paper and specified this be the order of the words.  I used the point of the two deep cuts near the bottom as the center for the side of the piece.  Drew a fine marker line from that point upward to the top.  Each line of engraving was then done on flat glass and measured for precise length.  When each line was done and measured, I merely placed my baseline where it needed to be…and I was extremely careful to get it perfectly horizontal with the floor!  Then, I put a small dot as the beginning and another where the line should end on that baseline.

The entire job took 16 minutes and I charged $55.00 for it.  Even in 2003, it was done at a rate of just less than $220. an hour.

I usually put a piece of black tissue paper inside crystal to make the letters easier to see.  To get good photos of your work, make a ‘sweep’ with cloth or seamless paper.  This was a piece of fabric from Walmart.  A small point-and-shoot Olympus digital camera was used for the shot.  It was on a tripod with auto timer set with no flash.  It’s quite easy to get good photos of your work and you need them to speak for you and your skill when people find you on your website.  You DO have a website don’t you??  At least a web address and a single page will validate you and give folks a place to go and marvel at your amazing skill with a painless dental drill.  And just in case your work may not look quite as good as some of mine, those seeing yours won’t ever seen yours and mine side by side.  Gotta tell you, that’s good for me with some of the work I see from my most accomplished students!  Many of them are doing incredible work for a nice stream of extra income.

Don’t fear crystal.  Do the job 2-3 times on flat glass to get your confidence up and to make whatever mistakes you might make where they don’t matter.  Load up on ‘practice vases’ you can find at Goodwill or the Salvation Army for nickels and dimes.  Mistakes on those become good lessons.

The drill has no eraser and, so far, liquid paper is not much help for a screwup.


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