Neil was born and raised in Northern Minnesota. Since he was five years old, he has been studying, making and appreciating art. Neil apprenticed with his father as a carpenter and woodworker, and learned the value of traditional craft-work. After marrying in Norway in 1984, Neil moved to Sedona, AZ where he changed his artistic discipline from drawing to high craft; sculpting, leatherwork, and silversmithing. Neil has studied informally with master engravers from four countries.
Neil learned leatherwork at a belt shop in Sedona, and when they closed, he decided to go on his own. He soon realized that to make the finest belts, he would need to make his own buckles, to dovetail-engineer the buckles with the leather straps as only a true belt-smith can. Neil familiarized himself with traditional regional and ethnic belt buckles over the years. He was the most impressed by the Western engraved buckles. Neil remembered the gun-style engraving he had really only seen in books, and thought in order to make the finest belts possible, he should learn to do that.
Having set out to learn gun-style engraving, Neil came to realize that it would require many years of practice to grasp even the basics of this skill. Fortunately, his wife’s uncle, Ragnvald Frøysadal, was a master craftsman and lifelong traditional artist in the Gudbrandsdal-valley of South-Central Norway. Among many other skills, he also engraved. When Neil told him of his desire to learn engraving, Ragnvald made him a couple of gravers, and showed him his method of engraving. He mentored and inspired Neil in the engraving skills, and in the decorative arts’ design process.
Some time later, Neil ran into Austrian engraver, Franz Marktl, who also decided to mentor him. Franz was well-known as one of the best gun-engravers in the U.S. Neil has been engraving in the Germanic style he learned from Franz ever since, although he has ventured into adaptations of design based on influences from Ragnvald and from historic masters as varied as Michelangelo to Georgia O’Keefe.
Neil later attended GRS Grand Masters classes taught by Winston Churchill and Creative Arts of Italy.
A 15th century metalsmith could get right to work in Neil R. Hunt’s engraving and print-making studio. His decorative jewelry and buckle engravings are inspired by the long history of weapons’ ornamentation from Persian swords to European and American shotguns.
Neil has lived and worked in the North-woods, on the Dakota prairies, and the high deserts of Arizona. Because of the great patience and discipline required to master his high crafts, Neil is generally reclusive. After years of studying the history of decorative design, and practicing and mastering engraving, Neil combined his artistic skills and went “real old school” with intaglio printmaking. As with all his art, including his engraved buckles, his familiarity with nature is his inspiration.
Primary Medium: Sterling Silver, Leather
Phone : 1-888-501-7807/928-554-4461
Mailing Address: 590 Grove Dr., Sedona, AZ 86336
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