The process behind our Sketch collection

October 09, 2018

Following the launch of our collection of Sketch cufflinks, this week we look at the hand engraving process behind the designs.

Working with our London based engravers, Sam James Ltd, our Sketch collection offers individually finished cufflink designs, highlighting the intricacy and precision of traditional hand engraving techniques. Sam James Ltd specialise in pictorial portraits, scenes and cutting, with previous projects including inscriptions, heraldic engraving, jewellery and antiquities. Bringing over 40 years of combined experience, we have worked with engraver James Neville and the team on a number of projects and are continually overwhelmed by the attention to detail and craft involved in the engraving process.

hand engraved cufflinks | Alice Made This

hand engraved cufflinks | Alice Made This

hand engraved cufflinks | Alice Made This

hand engraved cufflinks | Alice Made This

Engraving is an age old technique using a tool known as a burin or a graver to incise patterns into a hard metal surface, cutting grooves and making marks. As engraving takes so long to master, requiring skill, patience and dedication to hone and refine, each engraver develops their own unique style that cannot be replicated by machine

“With engraving you probably only need two tools,” James says, “and you can do 90% of cuts with just one of them.” The tools James is referring to here are hardened steel burins or gravers, used to cut designs into metal surfaces. Modern engravers can engrave with an accuracy of dozens of lines per mm, with different angles, depths and ‘wriggles’ used for different marks. Each graver has a face, the top of the tool, and a heel, the bottom of the tool. Once sharp, these two edges form a point that is used to cut the metal, with the heel helping to smoothly guide the tool. Pressure is applied by the engraver and the piece is ‘pushed’ to create the cuts.

hand engraved cufflinks | Alice Made This

hand engraved cufflinks | Alice Made This

hand engraved cufflinks | Alice Made This

Due to the nature of hand engraving, and the unique skill involved, no two pairs of our Sketch cufflinks will ever be the same, allowing you to own beautiful pieces of wearable art. Each of our four designs not only celebrates the skill of mark making, but also embodies the story behind the traditional patterns.

Click here to read more about the patterns featured in our Sketch collection and browse the cufflinks here. You can also follow us on Instagram @alicemadethis to see how we are wearing ours.

Photography by @JKF_Man.





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