Do you have a favorite photograph or painting you would like to see on your tile entryway? Maybe a likeness of your beloved pet on a tile border? How about a landscape from your favorite vacation spot in your shower? Or a reproduction of Van Gogh etched into your fireplace mantel?
Laser technology has made it possible for you to have virtually any image you like etched into stone that will probably last a lot longer than you will.
All you need is an image and a little imagination.
“We have a large selection of art that people can look through, but most people bring in their own art and memorabilia,” says Caren Gibson, the laser engraving manager at Hagen’s Fine Arts in Medford.
Gibson will scan your artwork into her computer, manipulate the image if necessary, and print it out—except that it will come out on stone tile rather than photographic paper.
You can have it as large or small as you like. Your image can be etched onto a single tile suitable for framing or mounting. Or it can be expanded into a mural that spans numerous tiles.
“We have tiles that can be used for floors, pools and exterior use,” Gibson says. “We use laserable tiles that have a special glaze which reacts with the laser. It allows for degrees of grayscale, which allows photo-quality black-and-white images on tile.”
David Moody, a budding entrepreneur in Medford, has taken the process in a slightly different direction. He etches images onto recycled stone—or stone that you bring to him—then uses a special staining process to create color images.
Moody was an accountant for 30 years who dabbled in woodworking on the side. When he retired a few years ago, he wanted to add a new dimension to his woodworking hobby, so he bought a laser engraver. He promptly discovered that he loved working with stone, and now runs a young engraving business called Rugged Cross.
“I wanted to take my woodworking to a different level with laser engraving, but when I started I learned that you can engrave on almost any material, including stone.”
“There are literally tons of stone in the countertop industry being dumped in landfills,” says Moody, who has worked out a deal with a countertop company for their marble and granite trimmings.
“I’ve also had people bringing me their own stone,” he says. “I had a friend whose child died. The father was a stone worker who quarried a piece of stone. I put his child’s picture and a scripture on it.”
Moody’s most popular works seem to be reproductions of masterworks.
“People love that,” he says. “I can’t take credit for the artwork, because I use the work of other artists, yet what I do is a form of art.”