Justin of JLEngraving prides himself on being a hand engraver using only his rotary drill and burrs to create his imaginative glass engravings. We had the pleasure of being able to chat with Justin about his work and philosophies. Have a read...

When did you first start engraving, and who or what inspired you to begin?

I first began glass engraving in 2010. I was dealing with the loss of my father and when clearing out his possessions I found an old rotary drill of his. He used to use it for his hobby of building ships. I first engraved my name onto the side of a wine glass and from then on I was hooked. I found the entire engraving process very cathartic and since then my love of glass engraving has grown and grown.

Caelum Infernum Glass Engraving

At present I do not have a dedicated studio space for my engraving but I am hoping to have my own studio in the near future.
Being self taught, I have learnt all of my drill engraving techniques through experimentation.

What is the main inspiration for your designs?

I have a passion for the Animal Kingdom and much of my work is focused on engravings of big cats. I find the challenge of engraving every single hair and getting the hair direction correct particularly exciting. My other passions lie in engraving portraits and also angelic lore.

a memorial pet engraving on a glass shadow box

Do you have any anecdotes about your work?

The first portrait I was commissioned to engrave was actually a double portrait of two children. With portraits being a challenging subject due to the required accuracy, the commission was daunting but exciting and I began work straight away to allow myself plenty of time to achieve the result I would be happy with. Having completed the engraving and being proud of the degree of resemblance, my excitement was short lived when the client, a colleague, then informed me that the engraving was no longer wanted as they had decided on a television as a gift instead. Despite my disappointment this piece has worked well for me over the years as an exhibition piece.

What has been your favourite piece that you've made?

My favourite piece to date has to be an engraving close to my heart. As an anniversary gift to my wife I engraved our wedding photograph onto a glass panel. I was so pleased with the finished result and my wife was blown away by it. I always get complimented on it by those that see it and I have engraved many wedding portraits commissions for other couples too.
Glass Engraving of wedding photo by JLEngravings.

What keeps you going while you work?

When I'm engraving I like to lose myself in my work and my own world. I always wear headphones and listen to my music or amusing podcasts! You can often hear a chuckle over the sound of the drill when I am busy at work.

JLEngravings at work in their studio. Glass Engraving of a wedding photo

Tell us about where you sell your work and any upcoming exhibitions.

The majority of my work is done on commission for clients but I do exhibit throughout the year too. I have been a frequent exhibitor at The Cambridge Glass Show and this summer I will be at The Big Art Show in July.

Do you have a favourite tool? 

My favourite tools to work with are the White Arkansas Stone Burrs. I use them to highlight my engravings and they create the finishing sparkle to a piece.

White Arkansas Stone Burs Set

What's the best piece of advice you can give to someone wanting to start glass engraving?

The best advice I could give a prospective glass engraver is to believe in yourself and stay true to what you love.

What's next for JL Engraving?

2014 is going to be a busy year for JL Engraving. We are launching our two sister companies, Crystal Wedding Memories and Glass Pet Portraits as well as concentrating on continuing to expand JL Engraving.

Glass Engraving of Big Cats by JLEngraving in the interview with Eternal Tools

If you would like to find out more about Justin and his work or would like to commission him for a piece you'd like, you can visit his website at www.jlengraving.co.uk