REVIEW of: Marcus Hunt's "English Fine Scroll-Construction and Application"

Well it's finally arrived! The long awaited and anxiously anticipated "English Fine Scroll – Construction and Application" by Marcus Hunt.

Now I can finally talk about Marcus Hunt's new book and DVD set. I have been sitting on this gem for almost three years! I was lucky enough to view it years before it was released to the public. I could say that I received this honor due to my fine engraving skills but that would be a bit of a fabrication. Actually, I just happened to be shamelessly begging a certain “insider”, when he was in a moment of weakness.

I do believe I am a good test subject to review this tutorial series, since I am an amateur, hobbyist engraver with only a few (very laid-back) years of bench time under my belt and have never tried to cut English Fine Scroll before. Although I've been fascinated by the "elegant simplicity" of this type of engraving, I'm being quite honest about this being my first attempt at English Scroll. I feel that the materials within this set will benefit all levels of engraving talent. I have been very pleased and encouraged with my early efforts to design and cut English Fine just from watching the DVDs and reading the manual. So on to the review!

Now understand, that I have the pre-production set and there have been some additions to the manual. Therefore, don’t get upset if I mention something that is not in your revised edition, or neglect something that you find important.

1. The Manual, which will thankfully be spiral bound. Thus, allowing it to lay flat on the bench open to whatever page you want to review. 2. The 1st DVD on the basics of drawing and cutting the scrolls. 3. The 2nd DVD on cutting the flowers (bouquets). 4. A casting with examples seen on the DVDs. 5. In the “Special Edition Set” there are also castings of some of Kell’s wonderful work.

The book and DVDs follow the same basic format. In Chapter One, there is an Introduction with Marcus's philosophy of why English Fine Scrolls have remained so popular for so many decades and how to use the materials to their best advantage. Next, following some Scroll Terminology, are the how to's on graver geometry and basic cuts needed to proceed. Following this is a series of exercises to develop confidence in one's tool control in cutting the all important "teardrop" plunge cut, which is the basis of the majority of cuts used.

Chapter Two goes into the rules for backbones or the spirals inherent in these designs. Chapter Three is devoted to the crux of the scroll, the so called "inside work", the cutting of the tendrils and leaves. Here is where your practicing the prior exercises comes to good use. Naturally, Chapter Four logically follows "inside work" with "outside work", which are the "squiggles" around the perimeter of the scroll. These are often overlooked or poorly done. When you see the rational explanation to their construction, you will immediately grasp their importance in the overall design. Chapter Five delves into shading of the entire scroll, both inside and outside work, even the backbones themselves. It's the shading, which I admit to never having noticed before, that can really make your design "pop". Chapter Six gets into the basic rules for designing and laying out of one's English Fine Scroll design. Chapter Seven gives us crisp, clear photographs of some fine work Marcus has done on some high-end guns. He explains the differences in styles and their advantages and disadvantages (usually in amount of time needed to cut).

Because Marcus feels that English Fine Scroll can stand alone, he treats the design and cutting of the Flowers and Bouquets as an Addendum. This "Chapter by any other name", is a series of exercises covering the basic 5 petaled flowers, the all-important center piece Rose, the Tulip, leaf design, outside work and shading.

As they were not yet finished, I was not able to view any of the resin castings, but I have no doubt as to their quality and usefulness in completing this wonderful tutorial kit.

I stated earlier that the Book and the DVDs follow the same series format. It
would be possible to successfully learn the basics by just reading the Manual, or by just viewing the DVDs. However, seeing the cuts being done on the screen after first reading the printed material makes the entire process more approachable and ultimately more successful as you begin your first practice plate. I would never separate these elements. After reading the manual, then seeing the video, it's important to have the printed material next to you at the bench for easy reference.

The production quality of the DVDs is at the top of the genre. No dim, grainy, bouncing camera work, no sounding like the video was shot inside an empty Zeppelin hanger. The lighting, sound and microscopic imagery, and most often overlooked, the editing, are all top-notch.

This Tutorial Kit will undoubtedly become an instant classic in our circle of engravers and engraving enthusiasts. The material Marcus presents is important not only for those interested in English Fine Scroll, but because it is the progenitor to most other scroll patterns, it is a solid foundation for anyone striving to understand scroll work in general. Please do yourself a favor and order any of these kits for yourself as soon as possible, you will not be dissatisfied!

As an addendum of my own, lest you think that Marcus Hunt does nothing but English Scroll work, I heartily advise you to visit his website and see all the wonderful examples he's posted, in all the wonderfully different styles he Masters.

Mark F. Sedlak (Doc Mark)