Ray Cover was born and raised in Missouri. In his early years his father was the local gunsmith and a sought after knifemaker. Ray grew up in his father’s shop and learned a lot about craftsmanship and quality through that experience. On top of that, Ray Sr’s good friend and shooting buddy (John Tweedie) was the local art teacher. Through his father’s friendship with John, Ray had the opportunity to have exposure to and develop an interest in art. His artistic ability was always encouraged by his parents. He never heard that old worn out, “Why don’t you do something you can use to get a real job?” line form his parents. Instead, Ray’s father always told him, “No matter what you do, if you strive to be the best at it, someone will pay you to do it.” Those words have proven to be true. Ray is one of the most sought after engravers in the custom knife market today and his work is very collectible and demands top dollar.
Ray earned an AA in Art from Mineral Area College, a BS in Art Education from Southeast Missouri State University and did graduate work in sculpture at Fontbonne University. Ray taught art in the public schools for a while and has taught every level from Kindergarten to College.
Rays engraving education, however, was gained the same way as many others from his generation of engravers. That education was received from trial an error and backward engineering in the School of Hard Knocks. There wasn’t much available in the way of engraving classes back then. Most who wanted to learn engraving either had to find an established engraver to teach them, (which was hard to find due to the “Trade Secret” mentality that so many engravers had back then) or they had to teach themselves. Seeing the value in teaching others, saving them the long learning curve and frustration of trial and error, Ray remodeled his studio into a teaching studio and started teaching classes there in 2006. People have come from all over the world to take a class from Ray.
In 2012, Ray realized that if he took his classes to the students rather than having them travel to him, it would make the classes much cheaper by cutting out the students travel/hotel/car rental cost, thus making it affordable for a much wider range of people. After conversations with students and friends to “brainstorm” the idea, Ray changed his business plan and took his classes on the road. This has been a VERY successful move on Ray’s part. The number of classes and students taking classes has grown. Ray bought a small camper trailer and pretty much gutted it and turned it into a portable studio and living space. Today Ray travels all over the country in his camper teaching classes at various levels and doing his own engraving work on the road.