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Published on April 13th, 2017 in Basics

  • An ARTEL artisan hand-engraves a Horse double old fashioned glass, skillfully transforming the basic template marks into a finely detailed freehand image.

  • An ARTEL artisan hand-engraves a Horse double old fashioned glass, skillfully transforming the basic template marks into a finely detailed freehand image.

  • Applied guideline dots create a template for the artisan to follow while engraving the Horse motif.

  • Our engravers work station and wheels. Wheels are changed throughout the engraving process to enhance details of the motif. This work station by, Spatzier, dates back to 1937 – they just don’t make like that anymore!

For the next installment in our series of posts focusing on ARTEL’s production techniques, we turn to the truly fascinating – and really difficult – art of engraving.


First developed in the mid-1500s, engraving is the practice of etching designs onto a glass surface using a variety of diamond and stone grinding wheels. During the entire process, a stream of water sprays onto the engraving surface (to keep the grinding wheels from getting too hot), making it quite difficult to see the marks as they are being made. Remarkably, our engraving artists execute each piece freehand (using only basic templates to guide their etching), which means that no two ARTEL pieces are ever exactly alike.


The photos below illustrate the process in more detail:


Applying guideline dots from a template.


The dots are guidelines for the freehand engraving of the motif (in this case, Verdure).

While engraving, the artisans use a reference drawing (seen in this photo) for information on how to depict specific details.


An ARTEL engraver at work.


Water is piped through a tube onto the engraving surface to keep the cutting wheels from getting too hot.


Night Owl bedside decanter tops marked up with guidelines for engraving.


An ARTEL artisan hand-engraves a Night Owl bedside decanter, skillfully transforming the basic template marks into a finely detailed freehand image.


As these photos illustrate, engraving crystal glassware entirely by hand is an incredibly time consuming, labor-intensive process. In fact, some of our more intricately engraved pieces, such as the Woodland bowl, require as much as 48 hours of work to complete!


Other ARTEL motifs that feature particularly detailed engraving include Jungle Deco, Poe, and Cabinet of Curiosities. And, as we mentioned recently, our engravers are even capable of rendering amazingly accurate depictions of our clients’ dogs, horses, and even cows!


Car to view a short video clip of our artisan in action – engraving our Horse motif? Of course you do.


 For more information on all of our production techniques – along with some great vintage photos of glass artisans practicing their craft – click here.