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September 20, 2011

From Sketches to Carved Coins

You'll do a double take when you see John Schipp's re-carved coins. It's okay, we did too, these coins are so insanely detailed you'd swear they're fake.

It's obvious you can only get to such a result with tons of patience, dedication and talent, but we were still so curious about the process that I contacted John to clue us in on how he turns coins into amazing art.

Q: I'd love to know how you first got into carving coins from your sketches? Drawing has always been my favorite hobby. One day working in the jewelry store, I noticed some tools that I had never used. My boss gave me a video tape they had gotten with the machine. When I watched it I was amazed. The people in the video were using the machine to draw on metal! In the beginning I would mill out nickels till they were flat - they made cheap soft practice plates. I would engrave my art on them and turn the good ones into pendants. Eventually I heard of Hobo Nickels. Engravers were carving straight onto the nickel, without flattening them first, and people collected these. Naturally I began carving Hobo Nickels. Q: Take us through your process. How do you go from sketch to final? I start by drawing, often spending 2-3 hours sketching out many different ideas. Once I pick my favorite, I will scan it into Adobe Photoshop. Using different programs, I will turn it into a vector image and make changes to the design along the way, because nickel is a round canvas with a couple of obstacles to design around. I use a printer and transparencies to transfer the design to the nickel. From there its all sculpting and drawing. Q: What's the average time it takes for you to complete one coin from start to finish? 15-25 hours Q: What are your top 3 most indispensable tools? Gravers, microscope, sharpie marker. Q: What do you do to get into the groove? Headphones + music or podcasts = oblivious to the world around me. Q: Who are some of your biggest inspirations from the art world? From Sam Alfano I have learned there are usually technical reasons and rules to making something look good. At first sight a scroll seems like a basic and simple thing. But you must know the rules to draw great scroll work. From the band Phish I have learned to experiment and improvise; it's ok to fail. These are the things that will keep your work interesting and evolving. Kyle Burger, GO BIG, bigger than everybody else can imagine, take it further than anybody else would bother. It always impresses the hell out of people! --------------------------------------- Amazing. Thanks for the insight John! We'll be keeping an eye out on your carvings…


Jamie Tao
Jamie Tao Posted Sep 20, 2011
This is awesome!

Tim Hodge
Tim Hodge Posted Sep 20, 2011
This is really, really cool.
(Though I'll keep him away from my rare coins)

Sarah Kaake
Sarah Kaake Posted Sep 20, 2011
This is, like, one of the coolest things I have ever seen!!! I totally want some of these now! It's cool enough that he can carve a drawing onto a coin, but when you add how awesome his drawings are too- it's just amazing...
Once again, I am so happy I found doodlers!

Ghaima Muttar
Ghaima Muttar Posted Sep 20, 2011
Unbelievable I'd really love 2 learn how 2 do that

Boris Melgarejo
Boris Melgarejo Posted Sep 20, 2011
holy crap that's wicked! :D

Dan Wolfe
Dan Wolfe Posted Sep 21, 2011
These are all so good. the dwarves with their gold is incredible!

Audrey Skrupskelis
Audrey Skrupskelis Posted Sep 21, 2011
Stunning! The detail is amazing.

Dylan Emmons
Dylan Emmons Posted Sep 21, 2011
Those are so awesome!!!

Denyse Dar
Denyse Dar Posted Sep 22, 2011
WOW!!! His nano-work is gorgeous. I thought painting was tedious..holy cow

roger gabriel
roger gabriel Posted Sep 23, 2011
dont understand how its created but i guess i am not supposed to..........WOW,[multi minds blown]

ellie kneeland
ellie kneeland Posted Sep 24, 2011
these are unbelievable! definitely amazing!

abbey Posted Sep 24, 2011
amazing, i would love to watch him making one

Lainey Lainer
Lainey Lainer Posted Dec 14, 2011
This is amazing. How much does one of these sell for?

Jeff Dowdy
Jeff Dowdy Posted Jun 2, 2014
Happy to know him. He's a great man just like his art.

brandy sigmon
brandy sigmon Posted Feb 25, 2015
John is a very talented carver and he is an inspiration to other carvers. Ebay now has a special section just for hobo nickels and you will find many great examples of this type of art. These hobo nickels are not easy to make and all of these artists deserve a round of applause.


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