Saturday, March 28, 2009

Etching on Black Marble...the process

Close up of finished piece

finished tile
below is photos during the process...

I have been doing scrimshaw off and on for the last few years,
mostly custom work...knife handles, gun grips, belt buckles and some jewelry.
I worked on some buffalo horn which is pretty dark brown almost black and the scrimshaw is in reverse... it etches white
Some years back, it may have been on my road trip
when I saw the actual POW memorial wall
I thought I might attempt to do some etching on black marble.
I even tried getting hooked up with
a couple of local cemetary, mortuary contractors in my area,
you know the folks who make headstones...
thinking it might be a lucrative thing.
So I set out on a journey to find out about,
learn about, experiment with... black marble.
To the best of my knowledge
black marble can only be found in India
or so they told me, and is imported to the US.
I found that I could obtain scrap irregular pieces
broken pieces of headstones I guess
they were very thick like maybe 1 inch or so thick
an I had no way to cut them as you need
to use some huge industrial tools or a wet saw or something...
but I found I could buy black marble tiles 12x12
and about a 3/8 inch thick
the tile itself has flecks of greys and white
kind of granite looking?
after experimenting on my broken piece
trying find the right bit or scribe
that would actually cut into the marble
I wanted to try a tile.
below you can see the samples of my efforts...the broken piece to try it out....

then my rendering of a "Nancy Noel" angel

Just recently a good friend of mine
who also happens to be the manager at the art store
where I buy most of my art supplies
commissioned me to do a piece for him.
His little dog Scooter just passed away.

She was very sick...and it was a hard passing
and she is buried in the back yard
he asked if I could make a head stone of her
here is the phone photo I am using

not a great photo but we liked the pose

so first I did a ROUGH reverse drawing on black paper for him to approve.
I have never seen the dog and it isnt a good photo
so I wanted to be sure it looks like her,
he was very pleased
I always enjoy seeing other artists works in progress
so I decided I would show mine on this particular piece.
I will add more as I progress.
name and dates to be added later

saturday morning...

In this photo above you can also see
how I transfer the image onto the marble
I do a line drawing on tracing paper
then on the flip side go over it with
white charcoal, tape it down in position
flip it back down onto the marble then redraw the image
it transfers a faint white line for me to follow.

There are several challenges to this kind of work
it is tedious for one, hard to etch into but even worse
almost impossible to get a good photo
since the material is a high sheen and black

saturday afternoon
ok back to scratching

sunday morning....
here is the tool I am using
and then a little more progress

sunday afternoon

a close up...

now monday morning...
in photo above
if you look really close I have added the lettering
it is just under her head on the left
and now moved in front of a window
where I have more light a close up of the lettering transfer onto the marble
usually at this point I have to work off of the glare
to be able to see that fine line
and for the lettering will use a visor

tuesday morning...
I ran across a dremmel bit that must be diamond too
and found it to work on this tile as well
I made a make shift holder for the bit
so that it can be hand held
(its jammed into a piece of rubber tubing)
this really helped with the lettering today!

tuesday afternoon...finished
close up of finished piece

finished tile


Angie Jordan said...

Hey Deb!
Nice drawings!
I'm not sure about materials called "black marble," but try hunting for "slate" from old buildings that are torn down.

I used to do many slate paintings, and still have requests, but prefer sticking with cartoons.

Here are some posts on my blog with using slate(same dog, too):

I paint slates black before drawing on them, then spray with Poly-U when finished and place on small easel. Makes a great gift!

I hope this helps replace the hard to find black marble!

print2paint said...

Thanks Angie, yes I have also carved and etched the slate a much softer material to work with. This is an actual black marble tile that would be used as flooring I guess. The same material they use for headstones! If you have ever seen the POW wall, same thing!

Sean (53AN) Gardner said...

Wow!! Now that is a process!! This so beautiful work. I also really enjoy your angel as well. It's great to see artists spreading their talents through various mediums.

print2paint said...

thanks is pretty cool end result really very subtle picking up only light...not a whole lot of application for it though!