REDUNDANCY left Alexis Valentine with a choice to make and after 32 years in the same profession he chose to take a gamble. Applying the skills he once used to create bridges and crowns for dental patients, he developed a unique engraving business Walking On Glass.
And, although only a year old, his one-man business was highly commended in the Made In Rossendale category of Rossendale Business Awards 2014 and highly commended in the best of the best Valley at Work Award. He was also a finalist in the Creative Business category.
Alexis demonstrated his skills by making the beautiful Valley at Work crystal trophy won by Tufties Hair and Beauty.
He said: “The awards mean you get involved with a lot more businesses and make more connections. Filling in the form was a bit scary but a lot of the information related to what was in my business plan. I am sure being nominated will help my business because it is getting my name out there and making the Valley at Work trophy also shows what I can do.”
After redundancy, Alexis spent a couple of months looking for work in other fields before deciding to create his own job combining engraving with his artistic abilities, love of photography and walking.
“A large amount of skill is involved in creating most of the engraving that I do,” he said. “I mostly engrave bespoke designs for birthdays anniversaries, weddings and other occasions as the engraving that’s related to walking is just a small part of what I do. I hand drill engrave things like Portraits of people, dogs, horses, flowers and buildings from photographs. Engraving glass is not unusual as there are many commercial engravers out there using machines that do the work for them but what I do, using hand drilling and sandblasting techniques, makes my work stand out from the crowd. For me success comes from the fact that I am selling my own work that I have created with my own hands.”
He was fortunate to secure a business grant from Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, which helped buy a new drill.
Another challenge is creating bespoke products that are affordable.
Alexis said: “This is why I have developed my own way of making stencils to sandblast designs that I have created myself, which I can then engrave onto glass.
“It allows me to reproduce them again and again more easily. This also keeps the design costs down.
He has tailored a whole selection of glasses to the walking market – from those completing the Coast-to-Coast walk to the Three Peaks and many more.
Alexis added: “I am only as good as the last thing that I created so I am always looking for ways to improve.”
Article by Catherine Smyth