In 1997 a public relations woman from a winery in Lubbock, Texas, came to me on the suggestion of someone she had asked about doing special, personalized labels on a large wine order. One hundred cases large! It was 600 bottles of Chardonnay and 600 bottles of Cabernet. A Dallas law firm with offices in several major cities had purchased the wine and wanted their name on the labels. Each of 600 clients was to receive a Christmas gift box containing a red and a white wine. The referring person told her that better than personalized labels would be the engraving of the firm’s name on each bottle.
We haggled about 15 seconds and arrived at a price. She desperately wanted my service. I desperately wanted the order. We settled on $10. per bottle and each would have two last names…the name of the firm. The truck came to my dock, unloaded 100 cases of wine that wiped out the space in the back half of my studio and I went to work. It took two weeks to complete the engraving on 1200 bottles…and all of them are showing on my conference table in the photo above.
A part-time employee opened the boxes, took the bottles out, drew one baseline above the label with an Ultra-Fine Sharpie on each, and kept 24-36 bottles on a table to the left of my engraving table at all time. All I had to do was reach for a bottle, put it on my pillow, engrave it, and set it on another table to the right of my engraving table. She would take the bottles I had engraved, add Antique Gold Rub ‘n Buff to the engraving, then put the bottles back in their cases.
Doing them in spurts of 2-3 hours at a time, several times a day, from early morning until 6 pm on most days, it took 14 calendar days to complete the work. If you do the math, it was one of the best sustained hourly rates EVER for my engraving. I was inscribing the two names in 55 seconds on each bottle.
If you live near a winery, romance the wine maker or owner with a sample of your engraving. Buy a bottle of THEIR wine at a local retailer. Decide what you want the message to say, add color, write a cover letter, explaining you work, and include it in the box with the wine. Send it FedEx Ground to the individual and then follow up in 4-5 days after you know it has arrived……if the recipient hasn’t already called you first! NOTE: Roll the bottle in bubble wrap until you feel it would take a fork lift running over it to break it. Put it in a box with plenty of newspaper and loose pieces of more bubble wrap into every nook and cranny. Seal the box with plenty of strong shipping tape and send it. If the shipper asks what’s in the box, tell them it is glassware, packed extremely well.
Engraving wine and spirits bottles represents one of the most consistent and productive areas of hand-engraving the way my students and I do it. I may go a long time before I ever see another 100 case order….it’s already been 18 years since this one!…but meanwhile, I see them from onesies and twosies, and threezies (is that a word?) to multiple cases that’ll fit in the customer’s car. Bottles come to me almost daily without fail. Good, fast money!
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-Ken • 214.250.6958