Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How To Engrave Words Into Rocks

This is my last post before heading off for our two-week bike touring vacation. While we're away, please make yourself at home with my blog. Grab a cup of tea, sit back, and click through the pages. Feel free to make comments. I will respond when we're home. Until then, I hope you enjoy what you find here.

If you can't tell by now, rocks are an obsession of mine. I can't simply sit on the side of the river and enjoy the view without constantly scanning the beach for rocks in search for the perfect circle, oval or heart. I fill my pockets with small rocks to carry home to incorporate into my art. Most recently, I have begun to engrave single words into rocks, marking herbs, leaving secret messages throughout the garden for Cymone's fairies, or to place welcoming words on our guests' pillows.

I have enjoyed the process so much that I would like to share the tutorial with you.

I recommend drilling softer sedimentary rocks (sandstone, limestone, etc). When scouring the beach for rocks, these tend to be well rounded. Those that are not rounded are probably harder igneous or metamorphic rock and are likely to break apart while drilling or break your drill bit.


Materials Needed:
High speed rotary tool (I have a large, used drill press)
Plastic container to hold water so you can drill your stone under water (I use an old dog bowl). Drilling underwater cools off the bit and which will speed up your drilling and keep your stone from over heating.
Goggles
Medium-sized sedimentary rocks
Permanent marker

Directions:
1. Put on your goggles.

2. Using your permanent marker, carefully write the word you've chosen to engrave on your rock. Of course, you can do this in pencil first, then trace over it with permanent marker. Your rock will be submerged in water, so you don't want the marker to rub off.


3. Firmly hold a rock inside your container, just beneath the water. This takes some practice. You may want to place your rock inside a frame rather than hold it in your hands, which can certainly be dangerous.

4. Using a ball shape rotary burr, gently but firmly trace your written letters to great a slight groove in your rock. Continue to trace over the letters until your groove is deep enough to prevent your drill bits from slipping out of the grooves as you work. The water will become cloudy, but that's fine. Periodically rinse out your letters.


5. Switch your bit to an inverted cone or some kind of blunt-nose cylinder. Continue to trace your letters, pressing firmly into the rock, until your grooves are approximately 1mm deep.


6. Rise your rock, and embellish as desired. I like to use small gemstone beads to add a touch of color.



That's it! The pictures on this post were my first attempt at engraving words into rocks, so the letters aren't perfect, but you hopefully it gets the point across.

Have a wonderful couple of weeks! See you when we return!

26 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tutorial - it looks really great, especially with the little added color.

    Have a great holiday! 'Bike' = motorbike or bicycle?

    My WW post for today: Instagram Images @ ImagesByCW with {linky}

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    1. Thank you! We're heading off to bike (bicycle) from Massachusetts to Maine (Acadia). I'll be looking for little rocks along the way! : )

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    2. Oh wow - super cool! I like bicycling, but have not done a tour longer than a day - have fun! :)

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    3. Thank you! We're really excited, dropping our daughter off with my parents, and spending the bike trip catching up with one another!

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  2. Great tutorial. Might have to show this to my mom. Have fun on vacation!

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  3. This is super awesome, Nicole! That must of taken lots of practice to get just right. How often do you engrave rocks?

    -Jamie
    pipersplacestudio.virb.com

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    1. Hi Jamie,
      Thank you! That was actually my first one! Since then, I've made some for the herb garden and around home. I hope to make them quality enough to sell in my shop on Etsy. Each rock takes me a long time (30 minutes or more), and I'd like to become more efficient.

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  4. Wow, you are a brave lady! I'm glad you know what you're doing and I can just be in awe!

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  5. You are very talented, great tutorial, but I don't think my husband would want me adding rocks to a already over flowing fabric stash :)

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    1. Thank you! I have similar issues with over abundance...and have to sell some of my stash before continuing to collect!

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  6. Thanks for sharing this. I really love that "live" on you have - especially how you embellished the dot in the 'i"

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  7. Really enjoyed reading this tutorial - rock carving is a new one on me and somewhat more long-lasting than many craft projects I've read about! Thanks. Will be following you, as requested on Blogging Buddies: hope you'll return the favour once you've got back from you vacation! Hope you had a great time!

    The Cuddlies at www.ColdhamCuddliescalling.blogspot.com (they're a bunch of plushies!) look forward to seeing you!

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    1. Thank you for leaving a comment! I am heading to your blog now to check it out. Cheers!

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  8. I too have an obsession with rocks. We just bought property in Northern MI and to our surprise our property in the woods is filled with Petoskey stones. My family makes fun of me because I constantly walk bent over :) I have all of the tools so I might even have to try this today! Thank you!

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    1. Hi Laura. Thank you for your comment. I imagine you have all sorts of interesting colored rocks around your home. I'm limited to grey and black, but I still find so much satisfaction in working with them. Good luck with your engraving!

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  9. that is pretty cool. is there anything else that you could instead of a drill? anyway that is awesome

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    Replies
    1. I've never tried sand blasting words into rocks, but that's certainly one alternative.

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  10. Rocks are an obsession of mine as well... been trying to decide the best way to engrave... THANKS!!

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  11. Thanks for posting..I love your ideas.

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