Local gun engraver turns weapons into works of art

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Paolo Barbetti turns weapons into works of art. He is a gun engraver, and like some other Valley residents, has found a way to make an odd job pay off.

When you see the intricacy of his work and the seeming ease with which he does it, you might say Barbetti was born to engrave but he says that is not the case. "I went to regular school like every other kid….and mid-school." 

From there Barbetti says he tried studies at two different religious schools in his native Italy, he says without much success, "So they just dropped me to the Institute of Art."  He says from there he went to the academy of art. "So I passed that with flying colors and what I was left with was a teaching degree of the history of art." 

Baretti says teaching just wasn't his thing, so he began engraving for a company owned by the Franklin Mint. So how did he go from carving medals to carving guns? "For guns, it's a question of help yourself, just started and see how the other people do it." 

Now, people from around the world seek out Barbetti to work on firearms, jewelry and more. He even engraved parts of a fishing rod for former Vice-President Dick Cheney. Joe Bardin features Barbetti, and seven others with unusual jobs in the September issue of Phoenix Magazine and he says that is a common theme: these people with odd jobs, usually started with something else." A lot of them have done something more conventional then moved into something less conventional."

He adds this includes a dating coach, "Joanne Cohen who is the dating coach was in HR, human relations, which sort of makes sense, because she relates dating to getting a job.” He also featured a private polygraph tester.
"Wes Burns who does the polygraph, he was in law enforcement." From law work Burns moved to private polygraph testing, and some odd calls, according to what he told Bardin.

"A couple is fighting on the phone…fighting and they call him up to come do a polygraph to prove one of them is telling the truth."  Burns, by the way, does not do emergency polygraph tests. They must be set up in advance. 

And of course there is Barbetti, who Bardin says has lots of stories to tell. Stories that are etched in Barbetti's mind of the scenes he's been asked to etch into steel. Scenes he says from hunting trips to religious requests. A recent customer wanted something straight from the bible.

"And he wanted me to engrave Moses coming down the mount with the burning bush on the left and the tablets in his arms."  But from Moses to Greek gods or simply some rabbits, Barbetti will do it because whether he chose it or it chose him, this unique job is all his. "To explain how the work of engraving, whether it is jewelry or whatever, it has to be done perfect, there ain't no place for second best.”

You can read more about Paolo Barbetti and the other folks with interesting jobs in the September issue of Phoenix Magazine, which hits shelves later this month.