Cafe interview with Rex Pedersen
I don't recall ever not knowing Rex Pedersen. In my engraving life anyway. I assume we met at an early FEGA show back in the 80's. Rex has been a mainstay in FEGA and done more than his share at the helm, helping to steer it to the great organization it's become. He's a pleasant fellow and a talented engraver and teacher and he can lay down scroll and gold inlay that'll blow your hat in the creek. He once sent me a beautiful little scroll engraved steel pendant as a gift, but once Abigail saw it it became one of her favorite pieces of jewelry. Oh well, it looks better on her anyway!
He really needs no introduction because he's probably one of the most well known engravers on the planet, but I do it anyway. Ladies and gentlemen, it's with great pleasure that I bring you this interview from my friend and fellow Michigander, Rex Pedersen!
::: Engraving :::
Q. What's your name?
A .Rex Pedersen
Q. Where are you from?
A. Born and raised in Ludington Michigan
Q. How long have you been engraving?
A. I started messing with it in the late 70s but I guess I would say 1980 so it has been over 30 years.
Q. What made you want to become an engraver?
A.I was a third generation gunsmith and admired engraving on guns for years. My father did most aspects of guns except for engraving so it intrigued me.
Q. Are you a hobbyist or professional engraver?
A.I try to earn a living at it so I guess I would be called a professional
Q. How did you learn engraving?
A. Like many of today’s engravers it was James Meek’s book “Art of Engraving” that got me started. After that is was SO many fellow FEGA members that helped me along the way and still influence me.
Q. What was your biggest obstacle when you first started?
A. Tool sharpening at first but once I could cut metal I realized that my cutting was better than my drawing capabilities.
Q. Are you a hammer & chisel and/or push engraver, or do you use
pneumatic tools, or a combination of hand and power?
A. I started with hammer and chisel but now pretty much use air assisted.
Q. What are your favorite books pertaining to engraving?
A. The “Art of Engraving” got me started so I would have to list that first. “American Engravers” was the next. After that my library got REAL large!
Q. Of the old engraving masters, whose work is among your favorite?
A. L. D. Nimschke is probably my favorite. He not only did wonderful work but knew how to do fast.
Q. What's the worst engraving mistake you ever made, and how did you fix it?
A. I had several engraving jobs going at once and I put an elk on a rifle floorplate that was supposed to be a mule deer. I contacted the owner and offered to buy a new part and fix it or give him a super deal on the elk. He opted for the elk and now has a good story to tell his friends!
Q. What are the majority of your engraving jobs (guns, jewelry, etc)?
A. Most of my work is firearms with a few knives.
Q. What type of magnification do you use (microscope, Optivisor, etc)?
A. I wish I could say optivisor but I need a microscope at my age now.
Q. What part of engraving do you find the most challenging or difficult?
A. I hate doing barrels. They are hard to hold and engrave.
Q. What part of an engraving job do you dislike the most, and why?
A. Same answer as above. There is something about a barrel hitting you in the belly a million times that annoys me.
Q. What's your favorite part of an engraving job, and why?
A. Marking the invoice PAID for the engraving job!! J
Q. Do you like or dislike lettering, and why?
A. I don’t like lettering but it is a necessary evil. A trained jewelry engraver can do it as easy as I can use a pencil but I work at it. You have so little room for error and everyone knows what a bad letter looks like but may not know what a bad scroll looks like.
Q. What kinds of engraving do you refuse to do?
A. I don’t do forgeries and won’t engrave guns I know are made of really hard steel.
Q. How do you rate the quality of engraving done today as opposed to
50 or 100 years ago?
A. There is no doubt that engraving today is light years better but it is hard to compare apples with apples .Most engraving done then were “production” engraving or done on a budget.
Q. Do you perceive any part of hand engraving as a dying art?
A. No. I really think engraving is more prolific now than it has been in many years.
Q. What country or countries impress you with their highly skilled engravers?
A. Twenty years ago I would have said Italy but now I would have to say America. The work coming from American engravers is second to none.
Q. What affect has the internet had on your hand engraving?
A. It made me produce less work as I am on it too much! Seriously, I think it has helped me as I am able ask questions and find answers easily.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn engraving?
A. JOIN FEGA!!! I did 30 some years ago and I would say it helped me more than anything. Besides engraving, I have made so many great friends!
::: Personal :::
Q. How many children do you have?
A. One son
Q. What's the occupation of your wife/husband?
A. Myrna (my girlfriend) is an insurance agent
Q. If you have traveled, what was the most exciting country you
visited and what did you enjoy most?
A. Italy. I was impressed by the 500 year old building and how they could be engineered and built without the technology of today.
Q. Do you have an interesting experience while traveling that you'd
like to share?
A.I haven’t had any real exciting experiences but I suppose the 6’ 3” really ugly cross dressing cab driver that picked us up at 4:00 am in Reno would be considered interesting…..
Q. What's the most interesting experience you had when meeting people?
A. I would really have to say most any time I was at a FEGA meeting/show was interesting. I have learned so much and met so many great people.
Q. Besides engraving, what are your hobbies and interests?
A.I seem to do a little of this and a little of that much not much big of anything. I guess antiquing and taking care of my home.
Q. Where is your favorite place to be?
Q. What’s one thing of which you are most proud?
A. My son
Q. When you were a child, who was your hero?
A. My father. He was an inspiration to me and I was lucky enough to work with him as well.
Q. Tell us something few people know about you.
A. I was a pretty darn good motorcycle racer in my youth.
Q. Where were you on September 11, 2001?
A. I was working in my shop and heard it on the radio. I turned on the TV and pretty much did nothing the rest of the day. It was almost surreal when it happened.
Q. Do you have any pet peeves?
A. Slow drivers in the left lane!!!
Q. What is your favorite thing to do in your home town?
A. Head to the beach on Lake Michigan and watch a sunset!
Q. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?
A. Wolfgang Puck if he was making dinner
Q. What one person was most influential in your life?
A .My father
Q. Who (living or deceased) would you most liked to have met?
A. My grandfather. He passed away when I was a baby and he had such an influence on my father that I sure would have liked to know him as well.
Q. Describe what you would think of as a perfect day.
A. Waking up and finding out the lottery ticket I bought had all of the winning numbers.
Q. Tell us a good short, clean joke.
A. I love hearing jokes but I can never remember them! The only one that comes to mind is this and it is rather weak.
A redneck was out in his pick-up drinking beer. A police car came up behind him and turned on the lights. Billy Bob peeled label off the beer bottle on put it on his arm. The officer come up to the car and could smell the beer. He asked Billy Bob if he had been drinking and driving. Billy Bob showed him the label on his arm and said “No officer, I am on the patch”.
Q. Is there anything else you'd like to say to the folks reading this?
A. In 30 years of being in engraving I have made so many friends and wouldn’t trade it for anything.
great to get to know Rex a little better. Glade the interviews are back looking forward to them. Fred
Want to learn to engrave, "cut an inch a Day every Day" Jim Small
Sam, thank you for bringing the interviews back. I sure enjoyed this one. Rex, you have done a lot for the engraving community. Thank you.
Rex has not only made a lot of friends over the years, he has been a great friend to us all! Thanks Rex (or should I say Reeks) for all you have done for FEGA and for the art of engraving.
(The Other Sam)
Cravingravin=a chronic malady that afflicts some of the world's nicest people...TOS
Rex is a great teacher. He makes every one fill important.
Great interview! I haven't had the pleasure of seeing much of Rex's engraving... Now that I see the above photos... all I can say is wow!!! Incredible work!!!
Proverbs 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
- Andy Gonzales
diddo I love to read them too.
Originally Posted by bronc
Thank you for the interview.
Sam, Glad to see the member interviews are back, they are an enjoyable read.
Rex, thanks for the interview. Motorcycle racer eh, thats pretty awesome. B.
I really enjoyed reading this interview with Rex. I feel honored and lucky to have met him and to have shared some good times.
Thanks Sam for the posting.