Thank you for Jim's obelisk, it arrived safely this morning. It's perfect
and looks really good among the flowers, close to the boulder you did last
year for our cat Tommy.
That's two beautiful memorials you have made for two lovely pets. Thank you
A Guide to Stone Engraving on our Pet Memorials.
There are several methods of engraving natural stone, the ones most commonly used are "Etching", "Machine Cut", "Hand Cut" and the method we use "Deep Cut Engraving". This is a brief explanation of the choices commonly available.
(NB: When we refer to stone it includes granite and marble)
DEEP CUT ENGRAVING:
THIS IS THE METHOD WE USE ON OUR PET MEMORIALS!
The lettering is deep cut into the solid stone using grit blasting, commonly refered to as sand blasting, this requires high pressure equipment and a lot of time!
The layout and art work are created on computer, the size and spacing of the lettering is therefore completely flexible, and the quality and variety of the artwork is only limited by the ability of the company artist.
The lettering and any art work is cut deeply into the stone, this means the lettering and any art work "stands out" - it has depth, shape and shadow. So much so that weathering and any moss growth will enhance their appearance. They also have a very long life. These memorials will still be readable after decades in the garden.
Etching has been around in various forms for a long time, most people will be familiar with pictures printed using etched copper plates.
The image is either scratched or burned into the surface of the copper with acid.
Stone marble and granite are of course much harder than copper but the principle is the same. The image is lightly scratched onto the surface of the stone with an engraving machine or very light blasting or is burnt onto the stone with a laser cutter.
This creates a thin but permanant shadow image on the surface of the stone. On some materials such as black granite the image can be quite clear and readable, the problem is that when the stone gets wet the image becomes all but invisible. Therefore, stone etchers rely on coloured fill, paint or stain to highlight the image or letters.
The useful life of the sign depends entirely on the ability of the coloured fill to withstand weathering.
The advantages of etching are that it is easy to produce highly ornate artwork or very small text and the manufacturing process is relativly quick and cheap.
Machine cut memorials are very common. You can spot them because unlike blasted or etched signs the letters are v-cut and the serifs of the letters tend to be rather heavy and rounded, unlike hand carved or deep cut lettering where the serifs are sharp.
The letters are cut using a large pantograph type machine
The engraving using this method is deep and will still be readable when the paint has weathered away.
The disadvantage of this method is its lack of flexability.
The type of font and the size and spacing of the lettering depends entirely on the available jigs. This is why most of these are priced per letter, longer names need longer pieces of slate or stone. Also the artwork and lay-out options available will be very limited.
Letter cutters are a rare breed nowadays. When I was an apprentice back in the 1960's (cue sad plaintiff music!) most headstones were still lettered by hand, using hammer and chisel, and tradesmen letter cutters were considered to be (forgive the pun), a cut above us masons.
The lettering is drawn onto the face of the stone in pencil the lay out and spacing are done largely by eye! Then each letter is individually carved with hammer and chisel.
Today finding a letter cutter is a problem and of course a hand cut piece will (rightly) be very expensive.