INLAY & ENGRAVING with William ‘Grit’ Laskin

Beautiful spring time in Vienna just got more exciting - spend 5 days with guitar maker Grit Laskin and learn techniques that he spent decades developing, and that have made him the foremost inlay artist of our time. 

Vienna, Austria

May 16 - 20, 2016 (Monday - Friday)
Organized and hosted by Spalt Instruments
minimum participants: 8
maximum particpants: 12

Fee per person:
EUR 1500 for EGB Full Members
EUR 1700 for EGB Support Members
EUR 2000 for non-members
(VAT will be added if applicable)

The fee includes the seminar participation (5 days), 5 x catered lunch, coffee breaks, beverages, and snacks during the day, 1 x community dinner. Not included are travel and accommodation, but we are happy to help finding you a nice place to stay!


Until July 1, 2015 preference will be given to EGB Full Members.
Reservations will be taken on a first-come-first-serve basis.
To make a reservation email us. Conditions and other details will be provided upon confirmation.


Required skill level for participants:

You shouldn't be a complete novice, you should have basic, simple inlay skills, such as already having cut and inlaid shell. The key reason is that though we'd do some inlaying, it would be a means to an end, to get us to the engraving stage fairly quickly.






"Though I inlay and engrave semi-precious materials on the guitars I build, following a tradition long-established for musical instruments, these techniques can be applied to any wooden object." Grit Laskin






By the end of this week students will:

  • have experienced working with varieties of shell, stone (recon stone) and Ebony
  • learn what to consider when creating a design in this medium
  • surprise themselves with their ability to draw!
  • earn Grit's techniques of hand engraving – ultimately, how the graver becomes your pencil and brings a collection of blank inlaid substances to life – and will successfully engrave (among other things) what is considered the most difficult subject of all: the human face.

(subject to possible change - more details will be provided to participants)

Monday & Tuesday

  • GENERAL INTRODUCTION, with an OVERVIEW of the steps to achieve an inlay of semi-precious materials into wood and a description of what we’ll accomplish by week’s end
  • Examination of the specialized tools and materials, and their preparation
  • A basic design will be transferred onto, then cut from a variety of materials, fit to each other and inlaid into ebony, in preparation for engraving.
  • Drawing exercises, first stage
  • Introduction to engraving techniques
  • Learning how to “see” details that enable accurate realism

Wednesday & Thursday

  • A DISCUSSION ON DESIGN, focused on delivering a high degree of realism and how I take a client’s concept and turn it into an inlay
  • Among general design concepts covered will be: visual balance, line, depth indication
  • Using the properties inherent in the natural materials to greatest effect
  • Surface treatments: tints, oxidizers, fillers
  • Detailed discussion of gravers, handles, sharpening, holding
  • Drawing exercises, second stage
  • Demonstration of method for accurate depiction of subject
  • Begin engraving


  • Complete engraving of inlay
  • One-on-one guidance
  • Review
  • group discussion of applying engraved inlay concepts in a variety of surfaces/situations

About William 'Grit' Laskin

WILLIAM “GRIT” LASKIN, a professional guitar maker since 1971, builds steel-string, classical, and flamenco guitars that are known and coveted around the world. In 1997, he received Canada’s prestigious Saidye Bronfman Award For Excellence in the fine crafts and is the only instrument maker to be so honored. He is also an elected fellow of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts and is included in the ”Who’s Who in Canada” as well as the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. In addition to building instruments, Grit is known internationally for his engraved inlay art. His most recent publication is A Guitarmaker’s Canvas: The Inlay Art of Grit Laskin. To encourage the growth and public awareness of the luthier (makers and repairers of stringed instruments) craft, he co-founded the Association of Stringed Instruments Artisans. This is the international trade organization geared to professional builders and repairers of musical instruments. As president, in 1993 he authored the first code of ethics for luthiers. Recently, for his groundbreaking work and for his contribution to the art, craft, and music communities in Canada, he was awarded in 2010 the Estelle Klein Lifetime Achievement Award.  In 2012 he was presented with the Order Of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour, given to those whose efforts and innovations have enriched the national culture.