Portrait / Vita

Silke Ullrich

The beauty and the useful

Since 1992 I have been working as a freelance engraver. In my workshop, I create refined handcrafted engravings according to customers’ requirements and according to my own ideas. Engravings transform a hunting weapon into a piece of art. For me, engraving is more than just a profession – it has become a vocation.

For millennia, man is gifted not only with a sense of the practical, but also of the beautiful. The things he uses should not only work, but also appeal to him aesthetically.

In every era, in every culture, there are such objects that want to be practical and beautiful likewise: furniture, crockery, clothing, tools, toys and, of course, weapons. A weapon in the white appears to be rather cool, it seems to be a mere functional tool. It becomes a beautiful work of art only when its metal surfaces have been embellished by color hardening, blacking and – by engraving.
Fascination WITH GAME
I love watching wild animals. It is their unpredictable ways what fascinate me most about them. I started drawing animals quite early. I tried to capture their movements, the dramatic moments of struggle, fight and hunting. I did many works with pencil.

As much as I appreciated paper and pencil, I soon wanted to work with other materials. In the art of engraving I found everything what I was looking for: a malleable material and a rich variety of traditional handcraft techniques.

Finally I could work with a hammer and a burin, sculpt surfaces, create ornaments and game motifs. It was exactly what I wanted to do.
I completed my apprenticeship at Merkel at the age of 19. Five years later I already held the master craftman’s certificate – and I am still eager to deepen my skills. Inspiration can be found everywhere. The world is full of patterns, shapes, structures that can be creatively combined. Interesting ornamentation is timeless and ubiquitous.

It can be found in antiquity and modern times, in every culture within and outside Europe, in ancient Greece, with the Aztecs, in the Baroque and the Art Nouveau periods.
Especially regarding animal motifs there aren’t practically any limits: the polar bear of the Arctic, the Swedish moose, the African elephant, the Indian tiger, the European roebuck – all of them are stunning creatures and great motifs for engraving.
I am trained in all five classic hand engraving techniques: feather-stitch, flat-stitch with stipple punched background, relief, bulino and inlay.

The relief engraving appears like a small sculpture. By bulino engraving high definition images are produced by means of micro dots or micro lines, created by pressing a tool tip of specific shape into metal. When applying feather stitch the engraver produces fine lines. Inlay is the means of inserting precious metals such as silver, gold, platinum, into a base material such as steel. The technique of stipple punched background requires is a fine punch with a slightly rounded tip. The result is a series of concave divots or dimples creating a textured backdrop.

Not only do I engraving works for private clients from all over Europe (Bernhard Sayn Wittgenstein and many others), but also for renowned gunsmiths, such as Hartmann & Weiss (Hamburg), Heym (Gleichamberg and USA), Ralf Martini (Canada), Heinrich Schiller (Leutershausen) Ziegenhahn & Son (Zella-Mehlis), Westley-Richards (England), Dorleac & Dorleac (France), Cosmi (Italy), Gerd Hauptmann (Austria), Aloys Mayr (Mittenwald), Velser (Nerdlen) and many others.
Engravings make your weapon as individual and unique as you are. They express your personality: You like the understated or the expressive style?

You love a subtle or magnificent look, abstract or a figurative motifs? You want finest bulino engraving or a heavy relief scroll work? You love gold inlays or you like it straightforward? Everything is possible.

Do you have the courage for an unusual composition, for ornamentation from foreign countries? Do you love the aesthetics of a particular epoch, such as Art Nouveau or Baroque? Then you have found the right engraver. Tell me your wishes. Simple ideas can be transformed into stunningly beautiful works of art.

Whatever you are looking for in terms of style, arrangement and technique: I will be happy to advise you, to design motifs, to discuss them with you and to embellish your firearm for you. Professionally and passionately.