Thread: New studio
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Old 06-11-2018, 02:27 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Sarzana,Italy
Posts: 661
Default Re: New studio

“Forget all you have learned in the States, that it completely wrong, your tools
are unnecessary. The school will provide you with a chasing hammer, chisel, chalk, pencil, and a compass.”
With that, Signor Giovanelli dismissed me. Then Mario Abbiatico, who had attended the entire interview, gave me a ride back down the mountain.
I thanked Mario for his kindness and entered the Hotel to wait impatiently for the next day.
January 20th, 1982 (From my journal)
I have been accepted. Signor Giovanelli has accepted me into his school of engraving.
There I will become a master engraver. I have suffered much in my life to arrive at this plateau. I suppose that the loneliness and hard effort will continue until I achieve success.
God, Please, help me … I love you. I work for you.
Am I not entitled to some contentment, someone to share with me my dream? To be alone is very hard for me to bear.
Your creation, Joseph

The next morning I got up early and used the clean communal shower located down the hall from my second floor accommodations. Hungrily I ate the fruit I purchased the day before.
The Albergo Gardone bar was open and doing brisk business at 7 a.m.
The owner’s wife was behind the bar fixing espresso coffee served with a shot of
brandy or grappa to the workers, most of whom worked for Beretta.
“Come have coffee and a brioche or a sandwich.” She said to me, with a kindly
I accepted espresso coffee and the grappa; it was rich, black, and full of flavor and tasted nothing like the weak, instant coffee that I was accustomed to drinking, especially with a splash of grappa
Fortified with enough caffeine to increase my heartbeat, I headed off for my
first day of school.
I decided that the only possible way to survive was accept no charity.
I would not ask for food, money, or help, I would earn money somehow.
As I made the hour-long hike through Gardone and up the mountainside to
the town of Magno and Signor Giovanelli’s school, I wondered how I would survive.
I had to find a job; I needed to make some money. I decided to do portraits after school. I was sure I could find a way.
January 23, 1982 (From my journal)
Engraving school is wonderful. Six hours of design and drawing lessons a week.
Hours and hours of cutting smaller and smaller circles on practice plates, everyone is nice to me. I know with perspiration, perseverance, and patience I will master this art of engraving.
Loneliness and cold are my biggest enemies. Somehow, they seem to go
hand in hand. Maybe someday it will all be worthwhile.
look after me.

Engraving school left little time to think and rehash in my mind what I would have done differently in my past.
Slowly, I started to come out of my depression; I felt my spirits starting to lift again. I became totally absorbed in school. I had the world’s finest teachers. Signor Giovanelli placed me under the direct supervision of Maestro Renato Sanzogni, the thin, bearded, redheaded man, who was fifteen years my junior. Renato worked directly on my right, he taught me how to hold the chisel and hammer properly, how to stand correctly in front of the vise, and how to make a handheld graver cut steel with surgical precision.
I was doing well with the Italian language, and was making progress learning
to use the small, delicate, chasing hammer.
The first thing I had to learn was to be able to make a solid contact with the
hammer´s face against the chisel. Every stroke had to be precise or the delicate
point of the engraving chisel would break.
Once the point broke it would no longer cut properly and would have to be re-sharpened. A process done under 6-power magnification and could take a novice up to thirty minutes to complete.
It was three months before I learned to make a perfect stroke with the hammerhead
against the graver. The beginning was agony, I would swing the hammer
twice and the point would break, I would have to re-sharpen.
Day after day, I stood in front of that vise, seven hours a day, five and a half day a week, trying to connect with the end of the chisel without looking at the hammer fall.
After three weeks of continuous practice, I could cut a semi-straight line three
inches long in a steel practice block. Line after line, each equal thickness, and
width apart I cut into the practice block. When its surface was covered, I would
show it to the Maestro. He would examine it, send it to the machine shop where
the work was milled off, and the clean block then brought back.
Then I would place it in the vise, polish the block to a smooth luster, and begin filling it again with fine lines.
I stood on that stone tile floor of the engraving room, cutting line after line until I could do it with absolute precision, standing in those damned cowboy boots, day after day while the arches of my feet begged for relief from the pain caused by standing in one spot for such long periods …
From my journal
January 26th, 1982
To Whom It May Concern, I have been told this day I could not become an engraver because of my age.
I will become a master before two more years come to pass.
I will teach, I will have my dreams of a home and loves become true.
I know this in my heart.
Today I had my vision checked, new glasses are required, must sell all the rest of my tool´s to survive these difficult times.
Money enough for one more week of hotel rent.
Eating well, gaining back my weight. Sleeping well, but still lonely and after school I am cold and bored.
I am washing my clothes in the bathtub, drawing sketches to pay for meals.
Boot´s still hurting my feet, but where there is a will, there is a way.
The hotel owner is a nice and kindly concerned person; I explained to him that at the rate my money is going I will soon run out of funds.
He has moved me out of my second floor room and up into the attic, I can sleep there for no charge. I have gratefully made the move even if the shower is but a drizzle of very cold water.
To be continued
"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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