Thread: New studio
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Old 06-25-2018, 03:54 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Sarzana,Italy
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Default Re: New studio

I also knew that getting started was not going to be easy. I had no passage
back to the United States. I was planning to return by working out passage
on a freighter or if that failed, throwing myself on the mercy of the U.S.
I agonized over what to tell her. She had such a beautiful life when she
met me. I did not want her to end up as wreckage in my life. I had all I could
stand of those types of emotional traumas.
I had no problems in taking care of myself. However, Signorina Franca Facchetti was another matter.
First, I decided it was best to leave her a note. I would disappear like a thief in
the night, it would be best. She would forget about me in a short while, I could
not let her be hurt.
Finally, I decided to tell her that school was over and I would be returning to the United States. I was very sure of the skills I had learned;
I knew I was a good engraver, having studied enough of the other engravers
work to know good work from bad. I decided that on my return to try the gun manufacturers on the East Coast for employment.
During my studies at Giovanelli’s I had met some of the important people of
the firearms industry: several executives from Winchester, the famous firearms
authority Larry Wilson, along with several people from Beretta USA. I was sure
to find work. It was more a question of how long it would take, and as we all
learn, time is money.
A month before my departure I talked to Franca, explaining how I felt about
her, the trip back, and my insecurities. The ever-practical Franca’s answer was,
“I’ve always wanted to visit the United States. I will sell my car to my sister,
then give notice at my job. I have wanted to quit for some time now, and this is a
good time to do it. I will sublet the apartment to my friend Fiorella and her lover
Carlo, then I will go with you.”
From my journal:
September 1st, 1982,
Schooling is almost complete. September 15th, Franca and I will be leaving Gardone.
To the best of my knowledge, I will be going to work for Winchester on my
As the departure date drew nearer, I continued to work on my portfolio. I had
no photos of things I had engraved. Actually, I had engraved two cheap handguns
in my entire professional career and would never admit to anyone that the work
was mine.
From my journal:

Today I made my first prints from my engraving. Now I am positive that I can do
it. There are many mistakes and still a long way to go to become a great artist
engraver, but I can do it.

Dear Universal Mind,
Thank you for helping me with all your blessings. They have been many.
many times when I felt so sad and alone and misunderstood.
If you had not been my strength, I would have given up.
Whatever life has in store, I will always remain your servant.

The engravers at Giovanelli were all considerably younger. Yet, all had been
engraving for several years and most of them had taken the time to engrave a
plate in the banknote style or what the Italians call bulino, a method of engraving
in which the steel plate is covered with microscopic dots made by a handheld
burin. The work is slow and very tedious but the results are so exquisite, the
work, very impressionistic.
I had made friends with all of them. Each engraver gave me a print off a plate they had engraved as a going away gift. I had no way of thanking them, so I made my last plate at school a print plate done with a portrait of a setter dog surrounded by arabesque scroll. The plate took three weeks to cut.
I can still feel the excitement of that day, my last days of school.
I carefully inked the plate and wiped it clean of the surface ink, positioned the plate in the center of the intaglio press’s heavy steel base, carefully took a dampened sheet of French rag paper and laid it on top of the plate. Then placed the layers of thick wool felt on top of that single sheet of paper. When all was ready, I ran the whole sandwich of plate, ink, paper, and felt under the steel rollers of the huge iron press.
Tons of pressure forced the paper into each and every cut made on that two inch square piece of polished steel, picking up the ink that remained in those thousands of pinpricks, how my heart raced with pride and joy when the felt was
removed, exposing the paper.
The print was to determine my future.
Was I truly able to be a great engraver?
Signor Giovanelli lifted the print from the plate. Holding my first creative
effort under his loupe, he began to examine the print. Every cut stood out clear
and sharp. The work itself had beauty and sensitivity in its rendering. He smiled
and then said he would be pleased to write for me a letter of introduction.
I printed about a dozen copies of that plate and gave them to the other engravers
and one to Signor Giovanelli as well. To Mario Abbiatico I also gave a print.
His words to me on that very day were.
“Joseph, when I first saw the work you had done in the United States,
I thought you were hopeless. Then after I found out how you had arrived here, I
thought you were crazy, but now that I know you, I think you have the largest
pair of balls of any man I have ever met. You have the three things that it takes to
be a great engraver: heart, passion, and strong hands.
God bless you and Franca on your return to the United States.”
We shook hands and embraced. I felt that familiar lump in my throat.
I smiled, shook his hand and walked away with an autographed copy of the book that had inspired me to go to Italy, held proudly in my hands.
Like every awaited moment in life, the time for our departure finally arrived.
Franca had many friends in Italy.The last few days were spent eating out, drinking,
toasting , hugging, kissing, and some weeping on the part of Franca’s mother.
Maria Teresa, Franca’s older sister, who was sure I was an escaped felon, kept
insisting that this was a big mistake. Her boss was telling her the same thing but
Franca with her unusual courage and determination decided to go.
"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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