Firearms Engraving Transfers, Les Schowe, Mike Dubber

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The Colt SAA Transfer System©

By Mike Dubber

This system of transfers is designed to assist the engraver in establishing proper and credible Colt Style Scrolls on Colt Single Action Army Revolvers, and on Colt SAA clones (Turnbull Open Range, US Arms, Cimmeron, Uberti and others).  With creative adjustments, transfers are also useful for scrolling Ruger and other similarly styled Western and single action revolvers from various manufactures.  By using the instructions included in this Kit, permanent scroll images can be easily transferred from the Transfer Sheet directly to the metal surfaces of the handgun.

Artistic Notes:

Engravers, universally, have been transferring scrolls, patterns and images from paper to metal by many creative and diverse methods since the base origins of the art.  Once the transferred images are in place, the engraver is at will to cut the scrolls with personal flair…what might be referred to as “artistic license.”   As such, it was never intended that the scrolls and patterns found on the Transfer Sheets be cut without artistic interpretation.   It is hoped that the engraver will exhibit personal style as the scrolls and patterns are bought to life through the graver.  By adding personal “flair,” engravers can clearly project their personal interpretation of the basic lines and scrolls these sheets provide.

The Acrylic Casting:

The castings included with this kit illustrate the kind of artistic appeal that has been applied to Colt engraving for the past 150 years.  It is there for the engraver to see and study – the lines are not static, they are not flat, and they are not mechanical, single purposed lines cut in steel.  These cuts change, flair, and diminish as they are cut.  The detail and shading lines create another layer of interest for the viewer, and various background treatments create yet another.  The casting displays different ways of shading scrolls and leaves, and there are several background treatments that work to contribute to the overall appeal of the finished work.  Those layers of interest enhance what would otherwise be a flat and uninteresting scroll pattern.   By properly manipulating the graver through metal, skilled engravers can create much, much more than simple, unappealing line work.  That’s the beauty of engraving by hand.  Capable artists can make the final appearance of their work personally recognizable, while all the time adhering to a basic and enduring artistic scroll design that has its roots in the heritage of Colt Manufacturing.  The many fine engravers who have passed through the Colt Custom Shop in Harford, Connecticut since the mid 1860’s have fixed those distinctive scrolls and patterns in the history of American engraving.

Detail and Background:

Colt engravers – and those folks who study and buy Colt engraving - are very particular about how detail and shading are cut.   They are especially critical about how dot backgrounds are filled.  Study the casting and you will see several levels of applied shading, and you will see that dot punching is precise and calculated. Shading lines are background, and they should be cut lightly enough that they complement the scrolls without overpowering.  Dots are individual dots, and they should not overlap or have open space within their coverage.  Edges of dots (#2 and higher) should touch without invading the open space of the adjacent dot.  Likewise, it’s acceptable to use a 0 (zero) dot to create a flat or black background, the same as it is done with a pointed or stippling graver.