New Exhibition - Inscribed: The Craft of Letter Cutting

I am very excited to have work include in the exhibition 'INSCRIBED The Craft of Letter Cutting' at the Goldsmiths' Centre in London. This exhibition is arranged in association with The Lettering Arts Trust and The Hand Engravers Association, of which I have been a member for many years.


One of the main reasons that I wanted to learn hand engraving was so that I would be able to put inscriptions on my work (I had been using etching, but couldn't quite get the quality of results that I wanted). My obsession with cryptic numbers and letters on my pieces is explained here in a blog post from some years ago. My love of calligraphy has certainly been useful for my engraving practise, but I have mostly used non-formal lettering as I feel more comfortable working in my own style. I still consider myself a rather part-time engraver, so I think it's perhaps for this reason that I am most pleased to have work in an exhibition alongside pieces from museum collections.



Bangle: The Mathildis Coronet by Anastasia Young Jewellery

Image credit: Lindsay Cameron

The Mathildis Coronet, 2017. Bangle.

Materials: Sterling silver, 18 ct gold vermeil, pearls, antique garnets.

Diameter at base 7 cm; height 4.5 cm

Techniques Used: Hand engraving, chasing, forging, fabrication, mount making, stone setting, riveting, electroplating, polishing.

More information about the piece is here.


The text I have used for the pieces was derived from Lombardic capitals - initially I needed numbers for an inscription which I wanted to do in a mediaeval style. The problem here was that arabic numerals as we know them today were only just beginning to be used in Europe at that time, and whilst plenty of examples of letters in that style can be found, numbers were scarce. It was a good excuse to design a set of numerals in Lombardic style. The Studley Bowl was also quite an influence.

I wrote many numbers using pen and ink and then chose the best ones. The numbers were traced into position for cutting on the silver sheet.

I engraved the large sheet of sterling silver whilst it was flat, and then pierced out the section I needed (note the extra practise numbers under the main ones - some sharp eyed people may have noticed that a certain person wears a small 6 pin on his coat; it's no reference to The Prisoner, it's a Mathildis extra!)


Work in progress: I used nearly 25 carats of antique garnets on this piece and each one needed a specific mount made for it.

Here, all the construction is finished and the piece is about to be gilded.


Image credit: Lindsay Cameron

This gives some sense of the scale (go by the white glove, not my looming head!)




Le Coeur / Le Baume, 2018.

Pair of Brooches.

Materials: Sterling silver, 12.5 x 3.5 x 1.5 cm

Techniques Used: Hand engraving, grade rolling, hand forming, fabrication, oxidising.



The text for these brooches was designed using the numbers as a direct inspiration, rather than directly sourcing original Lombardic capitals. Again, I wrote out many letters and traced the best ones, With this piece, though, I did use Photoshop to help align the text along the curves of the scrolls and to shrink one end to give a feeling of false perspective.




The exhibition is on from 30 Apr 2019 until 11 Jul 2019

8:00AM - 6:00PM, Monday - Friday


(Press Release from the Goldsmiths' Centre)

The craft of engraving and carving letters has a rich heritage. Celebrate hand-cut words on objects – from signage and jewellery, to artworks and trophies.

This London Craft Week (8 – 12 May 2019), celebrate the craft of letter cutting with The Hand Engravers Association and The Lettering Arts Trust; step into the shoes of some of the UK’s most skilled craftspeople and discover how traditional techniques inform this contemporary craft practice.

The exhibition – ‘Inscribed’- will present a wide selection of artists’ work, alongside loans from the Goldsmiths’ Company, the Crafts Council and other collections, to provide a unique insight into the craft of letter cutting.