Have you seen those fancy stones that say "dream", "imagine", "love" and so on?
Being in a spirited mood, I wanted to make a feisty one.... "go away" was a great greeting that I had to do, while "wipe your paws" has a more functional meaning.
You will need:
Laser cutter / engraver
River rocks that have a good smooth surface
Paint and fine brush (optional)
Sand Paper (optional)
Clear sealer - paint or wax (optional)
If you don't have a Laser cutter / engraver, you could try this with the point of a nail and a lot more effort. A Dremel with a pointy diamond bit works nicely too. Both of these methods are quite time consuming and difficult to get a clean typeset though.
I don't actually have a laser at home either, so I took a class and did it at the Tech Shop in Menlo Park., California.
Thanks Tech Shop for all the cool classes!
Step 1: Create Your Art on the Computer
I used Adobe Illustrator to lay out the text and place it on the stone.
Step 2: Place Stone in Laser
Use props of scrap materials to hold rock in place while keeping the surface to be printed level.
Someone had been cutting out circles and the round edges were great for cradling the round stones.
It's just really important for the surface of the stone to be level so that the laser will maintain a consistent focus throughout the process.
Step 3: Print That Stone
Align laser to the center of the stone, select center engraving option in the print dialog. When you are sure the image is going to print centered on the rock, close the top and start the print.
Once the engraving is done, inspect it to be sure the laser penetrated the surface enough. Don't move it just in case you decide to do a second or third pass. Different stones have different properties and will react differently. I did the "go away" stone with two passes and the "wipe your paws" stone got three passes and was still rather light.
Step 4: Finish Your Stone
You can fill the letters with paint if you like. I like to pick colors that compliment the stone's organic tones already.
Wash stone to be sure no oils or residue are going to contaminate paint.
Try to paint carefully with a small detail brush. I used a Tamiya acrylic paint for models.
If your rock is smooth, sanding the text will clean up the letters edges or any sloppy painting.
You can wax it or clear coat with paint to seal in the surface, protect the etch, and help the rock show it's true colors.
Step 5: Enjoy Your Stone
Place it on your door step, in a planter box or any place you want to leave your special message. What ever you do, enjoy doing it!