View Full Version : Don't EVER say the "G" word to me again!

Steve Clarkson
03-03-2009, 6:23 PM
So I went shopping today............

And picked up my first piece of 12"x12" black MARBLE.

Within the first 30 seconds of engraving some text, all I could think was "Why did I EVER waste soooo much time trying to get a good image on a piece of absolute black granite???!!!!"

This marble engraves BEAUTIFULLY!!! The text and images are such a brilliant bright white.....1,000 times brighter than anything I was able to get on granite......even using white paint!

I took a photo, inverted it, and engraved.....1-2-3.....that's it.....no photopaint, no photograv, no tone curve, no nothin! And it came out better than any photo I had tried to engrave in granite. I can't imagine what a photo is going to look like when I TRY to make it look good.

The only disadvantages I see to using black marble over black granite are: 1) marble can't be left outdoors, 2) marble is a little less abundant (you can get granite ANYWHERE, but you have to look a little harder to find marble), 3) marble is slightly more expensive than granite (the dealer I got this one from charges $10 sq ft for BOTH marble and granite, although HD has granite for $6-$8/sq ft), 4) marble has veins....but by carefully selecting each piece, this can be somewhat overcome, 5) Am I missing anything else?

I don't think that I will ever pick up another piece of G-word again.......

Dee Gallo
03-03-2009, 6:27 PM
I'm jealous. I have not been able to find any locally , so I just went with gr..oops, sorry, "G". Many people have mentioned that marble engraves better, are you going to post a pic so we can see?

cheers, dee

Scott Shepherd
03-03-2009, 6:54 PM
Steve, I think you've actually stated most of the problems with marble in your post. You can't just buy a box and engrave it. Only certain pieces are engravable depending on the veins and what you are engraving. Imagine what the final cost per unit is when you have to spend hours looking for one good piece. For someone engraving as a hobby, that's great, but for someone who's doing it as a business, it's not practical. You are at the mercy of what Lowes or Home Depot happen to have in stock. It's just a really tough way to make a living, having to find that one special piece time after time.

Also, you may not be able to break open cases in some places. So you'll buy a box of them and find 1 good one. Now what? Take the other one's back? Geez, this project is getting expensive.

Also, marble is soft and not anywhere near as durable as the granite. You couldn't etch a photo in marble and use it in the lobby floor of any office building for a mural. Daily traffic and abuse would destroy it. Granite, however, would last and last.

I agree, it engraves beautifully. Also, try some travertine or go to a tile specialty store and take your examples and tell them that you want a product that's soft like marble, but doesn't have the veins in it. They may have something that you can work with. Plus they will flip out of your engraving on their tiles. It can (and will) lead to work from them as well.

Tom Knight
03-03-2009, 6:58 PM
Wheres the pics??? After all that verbage we gotta see.. dont we?

Steve Clarkson
03-03-2009, 7:14 PM
Hehehe.....Tom.....you're new on here aren't you? LOL! My engraved photos are nothing to write home about! I probably won't get to it until tomorrow, but I'll definitely put something up.

Dee....you'd be surprised at how many flooring stores can get marble. I went to three different ones and all three said they didn't have any in stock or on display, but all three called their distributor and ordered me a sample tile (3 FREE!).....hopefully it's not the same distributor!

Steve.....I didn't really have any problems engraving text or some clipart on G-word....the only problem I really had was photos. I don't think too many buildings want a photo of somebody's face on their floor.....I think they want patterns or logos.....don't they? I personally wouldn't know. But that's a very good point about the durability.

Scott Shepherd
03-03-2009, 7:38 PM
Steve, doesn't have to be a photo. Granite engraves black or white, white Marble engraves shades of gray. So it could be something as simple as a Compass Rose that would look excellent as the shading of the pointing parts of the design. However, it wouldn't make it with people walking on it and tearing it up. However, granite would.

No question, Marble engraves sweet. I personally just don't find it practical to locate and get what you need. By the time I find all the right pieces, I've lost all my profit. Talk to those flooring people and tell them you want a soft stone like marble. You'll find many options that are soft and show shades of gray when engraving.

One of the things the ULS does for things like that is allows you to calibrate your laser to the material. It's a process that's got about 10 slider bars in a row and you put a box up that's got 10 shades of gray. You test it and get it so you can see all distinct shades from box to box. Once you do this and engrave in marble, it's simple outstanding. Just really really amazing. It's one thing I really enjoyed messing with when I had the time. I just couldn't figure out how to make a dime by doing it. Granite, on the other hand, has loads of applications and is far easier to market, I think.

Mike Null
03-03-2009, 8:48 PM
Don't limit your search to HD and Lowe's. The Tile Fair type shops have tons of it.

Bill Cunningham
03-03-2009, 11:59 PM
The pure black marble I have found, is called Nero Marquina Some suppliers have it with some white marbling through it, but jet black can be had.. The Brown from H.D also works well.. If you scrounge through all the boxes, you can pick out the best ones.. I do it all the time! You can seal the marble, but if it's for outside, granite is the way to go..

Dan Hintz
03-04-2009, 9:05 AM
I have been considering picking up a full pallet of black marble I just came across, but I know I wouldn't be able to use all of it. Is this something people would be interested in purchasing from me (in small quantities, like 5 tiles at a time) if I should pick up a pallet? I imagine I could get it to people a bit cheaper than LaserSketch as long as you don't mind the lack of highly polished edges (personally, I think the non-polished edges set off the polished face more).

Any interest?

Paul Perkinson
03-04-2009, 8:00 PM
We buy a couple hundred square feet at a time from stonelocator.com. They usually say they won't sell in less than 300 square feet, but when it gets right down to it they always have so far. It has always been very fine quality. Any veining at all is rare. They call it radiant black, or did the last time we ordered.
We wind up cutting it into whatever sizes and shapes we need and offer edge polishing at an extra charge. If you wipe an enhancing stone sealer around the edges, it really dresses it up. Just don't get any of it on an engraving or it will "disappear". We usually apply it prior to engraving to avoid that entirely.
We discussed buying quantities on the forum before, a couple of years ago I think, kinda like a co-op type thing, and as Keith pointed out then, the problem is in the shipping costs. By the time one of us gets it shipped to them and then ships it off again to the others, the price starts to get prohibitive because of the weight of the stuff. You also risk breakage each time it is repackaged and shipped.
We also use marble as a calling card - not business card - just a small sample to leave for them to remember us by - usually 2"x2" or 2"x3". Works a treat. I've gone in to places where we left one of these several months ago and they immediately start talking about it and pull it out to show me they still have it. The detail that can be seen on that small piece is far greater than we can get from ... well, the "G" stuff. It costs us nothing except a bit of time because we use scraps and, at least for us, it has helped get customers talking about us to their customers. It won't work for all types of customers, but many are interested right away. I don't like cold calls any more than the next person, but these really help melt the ice 90% of the time.
Anyway, marble is fantastic for photo quality work, but it definitely has the drawbacks already mentioned here when you try to use it in the wrong applications.
This picture is of a 2" x 3" piece. I know - it's not the greatest, but most people don't have the advantage y'all do of knowing how great things can look when done properly on a larger piece so they think it's fine. We vary the pictures and shapes/sizes to keep it interesting. I figure one of my biggest jobs is to just keep planting seeds and, so far, these seeds seem to sprout pretty well. But - marble is definitely their secret. I agree with many that corian is a fantastic material to work with, but there are plenty of places for marble (and the "G" stuff) too.

Steve Clarkson
03-04-2009, 10:56 PM
Paul......where have YOU been hiding?????

You do some fantastically beautiful work!

I hope to hear more from you.

John W. Love
03-04-2009, 11:07 PM
Paul, I am in awe of your work. After seeing your work, I realize I have a LOT of learning curve left.

Bob Cole
03-05-2009, 12:05 AM
I can't tell from the picture so what did you do for the color?

Paul Perkinson
03-05-2009, 12:02 PM
Thanks for the kind remarks. I know I donít post much, but I normally only get to catch up on the Creek on Saturday mornings and by then most of the things I could contribute are already said. Nonetheless, the Creek feels like home to me, and all of you like family. Rodne is still the final authority on most things in the industry for me and the world would be a far less cheery place without Frankís, erÖ different (not to mention extremely helpful) contributions.
Iím trying to become more active but since my logins are often only once a week, please donít think Iím ignoring you if I donít reply to something right away. I can always be reached through the contact info on our website if youíd like to get me right away.
Bob- to answer your question about color Iím going to tell you the whole process because it is a little misleading when you only see the final result. Sorry that it will make a long post, but Iím hoping it will help. These little guys are our ambassadors so we think the extra time making them is worth it.
Our jig (basically just 3/16Ē fiberboard with cutouts to hold each piece in place) can hold several dozen, but we usually run 20 to 30 at a time. Once the pieces are in place we cover each row with regular 2Ē masking tape and squeegee it down on the material. The ďCĒ from our logo is engraved deeply enough to leave a bit of a trough for the fill and then we paint that engraving.
We use red lithichrome (from Granite City Tools) because it is a close fit to our logo color and because we have it on hand. You can use any paint or fill that you are used to using. We normally airbrush lithichrome, but that would mean removing the jig and parts to another area, so we use a small, disposable brush and make sure we get in the entire engraved area. Because lithichrome dries so quickly, we can remove the tape from the first row as soon as we finish painting the last and then continue until all the tape is removed. Whatever tape adhesive residue is left is removed carefully to avoid messing up the color fill. Within 24 hours it becomes permanently affixed to the stone but at this point it is still a bit susceptible to rough treatment.
The rest of the text is engraved in the next pass. This allows us to burn the text a bit deeper so it really ďpopsĒ at settings that would blow out the image. Finally the image itself is engraved and weíre done. We normally use animals Ė tigers, eagles, bears, deer, etc. unless we are going after an industry where something else jumps into mind. Our philosophy on color is that a bit of one adds interest, but more than that detracts from the beautiful contrast of the white engraving on black marble.
If you hate cold calling businesses (hmmÖ seems like everyone is paying attention now) these tend to work like magic. We take in three things on a cold call: this sample, a business card, and a half-page of heavier bond paper that has a couple of pictures of our work and some quick, simple information on who we are, where we are, and perhaps a short paragraph on what we can offer them that they might not have now. We change this around a bit depending on who (or what industry) we are going to see. You have Photoshop or Corel or even Microsoft Office, so make this look professional.
During the first three to four sentences where we tell them who we are and what we do we typically sense their disinterest/impatience/hostility, but then when we say something like, ďand Iíd like to give you this little sample of our work,Ē itís often as if any evil spirits are banished from their bodies. They usually take the piece with a healthy dose of skepticism, but once they look at it they almost always genuinely admire it. So now, they have something to look at besides you (in my case this is a rather large positive) and you have presented them something that holds at least a bit of interest to them.
My suggestion is to not oversell at this point. Maybe a short, bullet point type recitation of the types of things you do, how you might be able to help them Ė just quick suggestions. Answer any questions they have and then gracefully (well, thatís the plan anyway) leave. Donít act like you are rushing, but you are, after all, a busy professional that has lots of other important things to be doing (pretend if you must). They love the fact that you arenít eating up a bunch of their time and they donít feel like a salesperson just hit them. Many sales books and seminars also talk about the fact that, since youíve given them something, they feel a subconscious obligation to you. Now, when you go back in 2 or 3 weeks, they donít mind seeing you at all and itís no longer a cold call Ė youíre buddies. Sometimes we take in another sample on the second call, but just as often we donít. We just go by what we learned from the first call to decide what to do on the next. Try to jot down anything you can think of when you leave that might be used on your next visit. People love it when you remember something they mentioned in passing a few weeks ago. Shows you were really listening and thatís important to them.
You may never sell them a thing, but donít be surprised if 5 or 6 months from now somebody calls up and says, ďare you the guys that made that little paperweight thing for XYZ company? Well, could you make me a ÖĒ
Very sorry about the long post. I got carried far, far away.
Steve Ė also sorry for hijacking your thread. Was not my intention. By the way, I love your enthusiasm and, like all of the addicts here, share it!

Bob Cole
03-05-2009, 12:13 PM

That is very sound advice on sales and cold calls. You almost have to make yourself shut up even though you know (or think you know) there is more to be said.

It would be good to hear more from you Paul. Thanks for coming back.

Marc Myer
03-05-2009, 1:05 PM
I just gound a great deal on some closeout marble at HD. I picked up a couple of cases of beige/salmon color and picked the pieces individually.
Any experience in colorfilling marble with a dark color? Same procedure as granite?

Belinda Williamson
03-05-2009, 3:27 PM
Within the first 30 seconds of engraving some text, all I could think was "Why did I EVER waste soooo much time trying to get a good image on a piece of absolute black granite???!!!!"

Bingo Steve-o!

G & L Marble 800-377-9981. Ask for Carolyn. I spoke with her last week and she was sitting (not literally) on 4000 sq ft of 12 x 12 China Black No Vein. Be specific about how you intend to use it and that you want NO veins. Carolyn will shoot straight (tell her I sent you) about the quality. They can ship anywhere, they like to sell by cases of 10, but will sell just one tile if that's all you need.

Steve Clarkson
03-05-2009, 10:51 PM
[quote=Belinda Williamson;1072907]Bingo Steve-o!

G & L Marble

Steve Clarkson
03-06-2009, 10:10 AM

You're right......I didn't see your reply.....for some reason it didn't show up initially.

Thanks for the great advice!

So you like the lithichrome paint fill? It looks great, that's for sure. And I like the idea of adding just a hint of color.

Paul Perkinson
03-06-2009, 2:01 PM
Steve- about the lithichrome... it's great for outdoor use. Best UV resistance I know of. We've used it on tombstones, monuments, and large and small signage with great results. Goes on easy with an airbrush once you get the consistency right, dries ultra-fast, cures to armor plating within a day, and looks great. The pictures below show putting it on and the final product. We have the family's permission to use these. We normally use a different type of airbrush for this, but that's what I have a picture handy of.
But... it comes in a limited number of colors, you can't really mix colors (or at least I can't), it's quite a bit more expensive than other color fills, you probably can't find it locally, and an airbrush doesn't clean up as quickly as a spray can. It does come in spray can form, but at a much higher price.

Since your newly avowed stone of choice is marble and marble isn't used outside, I wouldn't bother. The exception might be where you know an indoor piece is going to be permanently displayed where the sun hits it most of the day. The Stetson plaque below fell into that category although this picture was prior to its final placement. Because of that, we used lithichrome on it.
The only other thing that comes to mind is that it can sometimes help establish you as an expert. That you even know there is such thing as a stone stain specially created for longevity in the elements can sometimes give your potential customer a feeling of confidence that you know what you're doing - and remember, perception is everything:)

Moderator Ė there are some posts to this thread that donít show up unless you go to the top of the post and look under ď More replies under current depthÖĒ I take it thatís the way itís supposed to be, but is there a way to avoid that when posting? Sorry if it's been addressed before and I just missed it. Thanks in advance.

Dan Hintz
03-06-2009, 2:27 PM
Moderator Ė there are some posts to this thread that donít show up unless you go to the top of the post and look under ď More replies under current depthÖĒ I take it thatís the way itís supposed to be, but is there a way to avoid that when posting? Sorry if it's been addressed before and I just missed it. Thanks in advance.

Near the top right of the page there's a link called "Display Mode"... click on it and select "Linear".

Anthony Welch
03-06-2009, 5:45 PM

If you post like you just did, once a week is fine. A lot of good info. from someone who has "walked the walk". I can't even say that much in one sitting without getting short winded. But typing it, my hands would start cramping after 3 sentences, as they are now. Thanks for sharing the marketing bit and the paint application techinque.

I look forward to next weeks tid bits. Keep it coming.

I've got to get that airbrush. I just keep putting it off. The three ladies in the "Stetson" image look very much like some teachers I had in grammar school!


Bob Cole
03-06-2009, 6:43 PM
I went ahead and changed my default settings for the threads to "linear". You can do this under "Quick Links", "Edit Options", "Thread Display Mode" and change to "Linear - (oldest first or newest first)".

I like this view much better but sometimes on larger threads it is easier to navigate to the specific post by using the tree.

Paul Perkinson
03-07-2009, 8:20 AM
Hey Dan & Bob - thanks a bunch. Figured it was something simple but often can't find my head with both hands.

Anthony - thanks for reining me in. Unfortunately my fingers work faster than my brain. I'll try to be more succinct. (Took me a while to find that one). Been carried away most of my life - that probably explains a lot. My machine is entirely different than almost everybody else's - not only open bed, large format, but different manufacturer - so I really can't contribute much to many conversations. I've received so much from the Creek the past few years that when I see a chance to toss in something about the one or two things I do know, well... you've seen what happens. I'll do better - well, I'll try - but don't be afraid to holler at me when I go into the void. Whoops, I'm slipping off that way now....sorry.