We are pleased to share some wonderful news in the April edition of the Rigby Campfire blog – the announcement that talented engraver Andréas Robert joins the Rigby team. We chatted to Andreas about what drew him to Rigby and what he’s looking forward to getting his teeth into now he’s started.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into engraving
Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve been fascinated by guns, but more for how they work than for their purpose. Anything which is precise and engineered captured my attention from a young age. At the age of 18, when it was time to think more seriously about my future and possible career, I decided I wanted to learn a proper craft.
At first, I thought about leatherwork and saddlery, but after giving it lots more thought, I eventually changed my mind to gunmaking, and set out to find the best place to train. The world-famous Liège School of Gunmaking was the obvious choice, but unfortunately when I applied to join the gunmaking section there were no places left. What initially looked like a disappointing setback turned into an opportunity, as I was given the chance to join the engraving section instead – and I have never looked back.
I knew I’d love engraving the moment I first held a hammer and a chisel in my hands. It takes intense focus and incredible precision but it’s one of the most rewarding skills I can imagine. At Liège I had the chance to be around great masters in their craft, such as Pierre Dôme, who were kind enough to pass me along some of the tips and tricks of the trade. I was introduced to my first clients whilst at school and furthered my experience by working for jewellers, engraving their signet rings to hone my craft.
Tell us what it’s like to be working alongside your fellow Liège School of Gunmaking alumni Geoffrey Lignon and Saija Koskialho.
It’s a little like we have never left school! The team here at Pensbury Place is relatively young but collectively has a wealth of experience. Geoffrey and Saija have forged amazing reputations during their time here at Rigby and it’s a real privilege to be working alongside them. Liège gave me the skills to engrave to a very high standard, and John Rigby & Co. gives me the opportunity to work on the finest guns and rifles currently available.
What are you looking forward to working on at Rigby?
I’m really looking forward to engraving more animals on rifles and shotguns. In fact, I engraved my first ever big mammal after a few weeks working at Rigby and the result made me want to do more. It is quite addictive. I like pure ornament engravings too, and I’m actually working on a falling block with Arabic ornaments and gold inlay at the moment which I can’t wait to share with you. In the future, I’d love to have a sculpted ornament project to work on, or a typical royal scroll pattern. It’s a very exciting time.
Do you like to hunt and if so, do you have any trips planned?
I do not currently hunt myself, but that is set to change thanks to recent experiences. A dear friend of mine has got me into roebuck stalking, which definitely makes me want to get my hunting licence. It is one of the most peaceful activities that I can think of, and yet quite physical at the same time. All your senses are on high alert, you are at one with nature and you learn to read the surroundings to find your prey. I’d love to discover stalking in England and in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. I know many of our readers will want to hear how I get on, so I may have to chat to you for another Campfire blog once I’ve been out stalking a little more.
What else do you like to do when you’re not working or learning to stalk?
It will probably not surprise you to learn that I enjoy other precise hand crafts, so perhaps my hobbies are not all that different from what I do at work! I also have a keen interest in winemaking, old books, antiques and art in general. Anything which has some history and a story to it is likely to get my attention, so with that in mind and my newfound appreciation for hunting, Rigby is the perfect place for me to be working.