Building the rifle is one thing, but decorating the gun an entirely different proposition. It is in the carving, chiseling and engraving that the gun comes to life as an artwork. The theme I have chosen for this gun is about Pan, a Faun, and Diana, the goddess of the hunt. This is loosely based on the classic Greek and Roman stories, ancient and modern sculpture and painting.

This theme of the faun Pan and the goddess Diana will be threaded through this rifle, engraved on different pieces of the gun’s hardware. The cheekpiece inlay is complete at the moment, with four more locations for scenery to follow.

Below is a photo of the completed inlay, ready for installation on the buttstock of the rifle. This is cut from sterling silver sheet, curved to fit the shape of the gun, and then engraved. I’d like to show you some of the steps involved in producing this piece.

Much of my inspiration comes from classic literature and artwork. One of my favorites is the painting by Bouguereau in the collection of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute , Williamstown, MA.

Several artists who I love to study are Rembrandt and Dürer. It is their engravings and wood cuts which lend themselves completely to this medium of firearms decoration. It is the line that is cut in metal that is so fascinating to me. An engraving is a series of lines cut in concert, which the viewer’s eye transforms into an image.

With original art to inspire me, I take out my paper and pencil, with a trusty eraser near by, and begin to draw the scene I wish to engrave. After many pages of sketches I settle on the drawing you see below. What you see in the sketch is similar to my actual engraving, but not exact. I have difficulty with making things exact, so I prefer to have artistic freedom to create as I go along, to embellish, to make mistakes, to allow for inspiration.