Hi Elleni - tell us a bit about yourself - how old are you, where did you grow up and what first attracted you to the idea of engraving as a career?
I'm 23 and grew up in North West London, Queens park, a few minutes from the Factory. My interest in Engraving was stirred up through an Engraver who worked at the Goldsmiths Centre, Wayne Parrott. Due to his obvious passion, talent and knowledge of his work, he never failed to encourage me to keep trying when struggling to learn the basics.
How long have you been working at Holland & Holland and how did you come to get the position? What did you do before you started in the factory?
September 2023 will mark my fifth and final year as an apprentice at Holland & Holland. Before this I studied at the Goldsmiths Jewellery Making Foundation Programme, where they ended the year by setting us up with work placements. I landed a day placement with James Kulczyk, who put me forward as a potential for Holland's Apprenticeship Training school. When accepted, I was placed under the guidance of Allen Greenwell and Paul Yelverton.
How has your engraving progressed since you joined Holland & Holland?
As mentioned previously my interest was definitely found within Goldsmiths, but Holland's, primarily Kirsty Smith my current foreman, is where I learned how to refine my work, while giving room to find my own style and identity. In essence I've been blessed to have gathered knowledge from all the engravers that have passed through the factory for the short time I've been here.
What is the most memorable piece you have worked on to date and do you find it nerve wracking doing such detailed work?
My most nerve wracking piece would be a rhino I enegraved on a bolt action plate as practice. It was my first time engraving an animal, which I'm still proud of because at the time I was completely convinced scenes and animals wouldn't be a route I could execute.
Have you ever had any major mistakes or disasters with engraving?
All the time, fortunately for me, I've got very forgiving and skilled colleages within the factory workshops, that can correct them.
What is the most rewarding/enjoyable part of your job? Equally what are the greatest challenges?
The aspect that you can experiment, is rewarding for me. Acknowledging, while I'm still learning, that I can't always achieve the same effect other more experienced engravers do with just lines straight away, but being given room to experiment allows you to find other ways to create a new effect, that still correlates with the design.
What are your hobbies outside work?
I've found a real interest in the outdoors, having grown up in the busiest city in England, you can say I've been somewhat deprived or rolling hills and flowing lakes - so just getting to a stage where I can explore outside of London, is my hobby right now.
Have you ever tried shooting and if not, would you like to?
When we started the apprenticeship school, we were invited to spend a day at the range, where we trialled some of their shotguns and rifles. Ending the day with a small shooting competition, and in never having held nor shot a gun before, to my surprise I ranked last place with a solid 14/30…
If you could choose to keep one of the guns you have worked on so far, which one would it be and why?
It would be the Royal O/U, that I inlaid a Quail head out of copper and silver, mostly because of the way the light followed the flanged cuts of the feathers from different angles.