Hand Etched Designs
The art of impact etching on granite
Hand etching is a beautiful process by which artists create emaculate engravings on granite stone. It takes many years and lots of practice to refine this craft. Those who make this form of art are greatly repected and have a strong attention to detail. Their artwork is permanent and cannot be fixed if a mistake is made. These fine craftsman are the backbone of custom graphics in the monument industry.
When an artist receives an order to create a custom hand etching, he must first draw out the scene in pencil. Many hours of thought and sketching go into creating the details described by the customer. Once the intitial drawing is complete, the artist will most times transfer it to a see through tracing paper that can be laid over the full size print out of the ordered stone. The customer will then come into the business and check to make sure the drawing meets expectations and that the full size rendering is exactly what they pictured. Once the drawing is approved the artist sets out to accomplish the task of recreating the drawing on stone.
Hand etched designs require special tools to make the engraving visible on a hard granite surface. Transfer paper (a thin, tacky, white paper) is placed between the drawing and the stone. The artist traces his drawing leaving basic outlines on the black granite surface. A limestone pencil is then used to shade in the areas of the drawing that are not to be touched. Etching on stone is different from the drawing because you start with a black background and have to pull out the highlights. The most important tool used is called the electro stylus etcher. This is a small pen like tool that resembles a tattoo needle. The electric pen has a diamond tipped hammer at the very point that occilates up and down at different speeds and force. The artist fine tunes these settings to create heavier marks or lighter marks depending on the area of the picture. After the etching is complete the rough surface is painted with a lithochrome paint and then scraped off after drying with a razor blade. This leaves paint in the engraving area that draws out an even greater contrast in the final picture.
Other Hand Etching Facts
Average time spent on a full scenic etching is usually between 4-5hrs etching time. If for some reason the artist makes a mistake that cannot be fixed or reworked, the stone must be repolished or recreated all together.
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