Thread: New studio
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Old 06-08-2018, 01:44 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Sarzana,Italy
Posts: 661
Default A Print and a Story

Gardone Italy early in the morning resembled no place I had ever seen , it´s streets were narrow, only wide enough for horse carts, motorbikes, pedestrians, cats, dogs, and rats.
A large canal provides power to the gun making companies of Gardone with swiftly moving water that flows through the ancient town.
Soot from the steel mills and manufacturing plants covered everything. Here machinists, gun makers, stock makers, barrel makers and engravers, all worked in unison to produce the most beautiful firearms in the world.
In the pocket of my denim jacket, I had a ragged letter with the return address of Signor Abbiatico.
I walked up the one main road looking for a street sign. Most streets had none, and if there was one, I could not read it. I stopped at a bar and pastry shop, pointed at a croissant, and asked for coffee. .
The barmaid looked at me curiously then asked “normale, cappuccino?”
Not sure what she had asked, I nodded my head in the affirmative.
Fortune intervened in my favor as I tasted my first cappuccino.
Refreshed and enthusiastic, I continued to walk up the street. Florists, Butcher,
Hardware shops, and the tobacconists—all were open. The air was sharp but not subfreezing. The breeze carried the odor of sewer. Piles of dirty snow and grime were everywhere. Gardone in January is not a very pretty picture.
Suddenly, there in all its magnificence, was what I am searching for.
There in a photo shop window, prominently displayed was an enlargement of a
Famars made shotgun receiver. The engraving had been enlarged ten times its
size. The scene depicted, was of Diana the huntress in all her nakedness; bow in hand, arrows in her quiver. The antelope she had just shot lay on the ground beside her.
The engraver had cut every detail of the trees, rocks, skies into the precious steel. As soon as I saw that photo, I rushed into the shop.
“Where is that? Where is that?” I asked.
Not understanding the question, the owner went outside to see what I was excitedly pointing at.
Now it became clear to him what I wanted, he summoned a small boy.
Gave him instructions, and then indicated that I should follow the boy.

One street past the photo shop, walk until you come to a small triangular park,
and a clear running stream bisecting it, cross over the ancient Roman footbridge,
continue a half a block, look to the left, and you will find yourself in front of the villa of Abbiatico& Salvinelli.

The boy turned into the elegant courtyard, went up to the office, and rang the bell.
Promptly Signor Abbiatico’s secretary appeared. She spoke to the boy, then
looked at me, and then motioned me into the office.
I had arrived at my destination.
Signor Abbiatico stood up from his desk and offered his hand. I believe that, at
the moment he assumed I was a rich American client. I handed him his letter,
Explaining to him that I had indeed finished art school and, learned how to
engrave, showing him the practice plate I had brought all the way from Virginia.
I was now ready to work for him learning to engrave.
Mario spoke excellent English; he asked me how I arrived. I said simply, I had hitchhiked.
“You have made a very long trip for nothing,” he said. “I couldn’t provide you work no matter what your skills, I am not an engraver. I am the author of a book on engraving, but I am not an engraver.”
I could feel myself disintegrating.
Before I could say anything he continued, “There is a school here that teaches engraving. Let me make a phone call.”
After a brief conversation of which I understood not a work, Signor Abbiatico replaced the phone, looked at me, and then said, “Signor Giovanelli will see you at his office at noon. Please come to my office a few minutes before, so I may take you there.”With that, his secretary showed me out.
With nearly three hours to wait; I returned to the Albergo and using the newly purchased dictionary composed a note. In it, I expressed my desires to learn to engrave and said it was my dream to study the Italian way of engraving.
Around 11:30, I retraced my steps back to Famars gun works to find Signor
We got in his car and drove up a very narrow one-way road that led to
the town of Magno. The total distance was a good hour’s walk from my hotel.
We arrived at the Bottega d’ Incisione di Giovanelli promptly and were shown
into Signor Giovanelli’s office by Signor Giovanelli´ s secretary.
Cesare Giovanelli is a very elegant man, his office impeccably furnished in
black leather and chrome furniture. On prominent display were sculptures of
marble and bronze, several two-foot by three-foot framed enlargements of
engraved Beretta shotguns hang on the walls along with original drawings and
He was everything I had never been or dreamed of becoming.
He was rich, tall, handsome, had three beautiful daughters, one of which was
learning the engraving trade. Maria Giovanelli was 16 years old; her father was
one year younger than I was. Signor Giovanelli had a mountain villa for a home,
and traveled the world first-class, he also owned several other companies- He was the first truly wealthy person I had met.
His school was the main provider of engraving services to Colt, Winchester,
Smith and Wesson and most importantly, Beretta firearms..
Cesare Giovanelli himself no longer engraved. He was more than an engraver.
He was the artist’s sponsor, every part of the building that housed his pleasures and displayed his love of art and beauty. He had secured the services of an interpreter for our meeting. Signor Abbiatico introduced me and kindly ordered me to sit. I felt as if I were in audience with a prince or perhaps a count. I felt as if I was standing in an imaginary castle, standing at the door of my personal heaven, and Signor Giovanelli was the gatekeeper.
I handed him the note that I had written. It said:
Dear Sir,
I have come to Italy in pursuit of my dreams of learning to engrave.
Most respectfully yours
Mr. Giovanelli gave the note to the translator, and then asked through the
interpreter. How did I get there? …
“I hitchhiked.” I answered,
My heartbeat rapidly increased as the interpreter asked me to present my identification, which I promptly did. Then he began to question the fact that the passport said Joseph and nothing else. I explained it by saying that I was an orphan
and I knew neither my mother nor my father.
“How long do you intend to stay?”
“Until I learn,” I answered.
“How much money do you have?”
“Sir, I have one hundred and forty seven dollars.”
“How will you support yourself? The school cannot give you employment.”
“I can take care of myself,” I replied.
After a few more questions the interpreter instructed me to go outside and wait on the terraced courtyard. I walked outside, across the grey cobblestones, past the sculptures in marble, bronze, and steel.
From the end of the terrace, I could see down the length of the entire valley.
Far below lay the red tile roofs of the town Gardone Valtrompia.
I found a place to sit in the sun for it was cold and windy, once I was comfortable , I began to pray.
A half hour had passed when the secretary came back for me. She escorted me into Signor Giovanelli´s office. The interpreter then said, “Signor Giovanelli has decided to accept you into this school, he would like you to go out to the engraving room and cut a steel plate so that he may judge at what level of competency you are.”
Taking my tool bag containing the engravers block I had carried all the way from Lynchburg Virginia, I followed Signor Giovanelli into the engraving room. It was such a sharp contrast to Mr. Hearst’s company that I became very confused, and nervous. Each of the twenty engravers had their workstations placed directly in front of a plate glass window, which flooded the entire long, black and white marble tiled floor with indirect north light.
Signor Giovanelli accompanied me to the workstation of the Maestro, where the interpreter introduced us.
The Maestro, Renato Sanzogni was a thin, intense, bearded man wearing eyeglasses with pink tinted lenses. The adjacent work station was cleared and a
polished block of steel 6 inches long, 2 inches wide and 2 inches thick had been placed in the floor mounted, rotating, engravers vise.
I opened my tool bag to remove Magnivisor, hammer and chisel, the Maestro stopped me as I was about to place the magnifier on my head, he then spoke rapidly to the interpreter as he examined my chisel point, and my hammer.
The interpreter said, “The Maestro says that you cannot use the magnifying
Device your hammer is too heavy and that your tools are not good.”
Then he handed me a small chisel and a tiny hammer weighing three ounces.
Signor Giovanelli then spoke to the interpreter and the Maestro.
The Maestro then shook my hand, took a compass and scribed several lines on
that steel block in the vise, then the interpreter said,
“The Maestro would like you to cut these lines.”
Everything was unfamiliar, from the way they held the tools, to the type of
vise they worked with.
I was at a loss without magnification to see the work; I attempted to cut a straight line on the plate, but failed miserably.
After demonstrating that I was completely without skill, we returned to
the office. Signor Giovanelli wants to know. “When would you like to begin school?” the interpreter asked.
I answered, “Tomorrow.”
"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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