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#TraditionsTuesday: Tony Gilson & Susan Brabenec

This #TraditionsTuesday, we’re excited to highlight the work of Traditional Arts Apprenticeship team Tony Gilson and Susan Brabenec from Cincinnati, who received an OAC grant in 2022 to study hand engraving. 

Tony Gilson studied engraving at the College of Jewelers and Silversmiths in Birmingham, England, and apprenticed in London with the manufacturing silversmith that supplied the royal family. He later moved to the United States to work in engineering, and after 10 years, he used his earnings to open his own engraving business in downtown Cincinnati—Gilson’s Engraving and Elegant Gifts. 

Susan Brabenec has been working with Tony for about four years, learning the art of hand engraving. With experience in calligraphy, she reached out to Tony when she heard that he was interested in passing on his craft to another artist. Susan studies with Tony at his shop and is able to use his workbench to practice. 

Susan’s apprenticeship in hand engraving comes at an important time because, according to Tony, “nobody else is learning it right now.” Computers can do the work faster, he said, and “very few people see the charm in having something hand engraved.” Tony and Susan are working to build that appreciation by continuing to practice and share their craft. “The letters look so much better—the cut and shine on them," he said. 

EXPAND: Read more about Tony in this Local12 WKRC-TV news story.

EXPERIENCE: See more of Tony’s work on his website.

EXPLORE: Applications for the next round of Traditional Arts Apprenticeship are open until April 3. Apprenticeship teams can apply for up to $4,000 to work together for one year to teach and learn a folk or traditional art form or traditional trade.


Article and Photos by Cristina Benedetti
Feature image: Tony and Susan stand outside Gilson's Engraving and Elegant Gifts

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