Firearms engraving has been around for hundreds of years, but acclaimed engraver Ernie Marsh helped popularize the smoky finish on bits and spurs.
MUCH OF ERNIE MARSH'S JOB as a bit and spur maker is mechanical by nature, but the craftsman thinks more like an artist than a machinist. His creative expression starts in his imagination and is unleashed when he picks up his hammer and chisel.
Each time the craftsman engraves a new pattern or attempts to resolve a problem with an existing design, he grabs a pencil and sketches scrolls on anything in front of him. Unlike a fine artist who has a large, blank canvas on which to create, Marsh's challenge as an engraver is to find ways to fill odd-shaped spaces with fluid, attractive patterns. Scrollwork is one of the most graceful, ornate elements Marsh has found to fill space, and they provide limitless design possibilities.
Marsh's uncontrollable urge to use scrollwork started more than 20 years ago, when he first discovered its decorative value in firearms engraving.