So I have been meaning to do a writeup on marble in the glowforge and am finally getting to it. In this first post I will just show the results and settings of the types of marbles I have done. I will do follow up posts on this thread that will go into the best vendors I have found for these items, trade offs of the marble types, and other random marble stuff you can fit in the glowforge.
The marbles in this thread are honed and polished marbles. The settings I used for all the honed marble was full power, full speed, 270 LPI, and two passes. The settings I used for all the polished marble was full power, full speed, 270 LPI, and one pass.
The different marbles and the results when engraving
So lets start with just the standard white honed marble (marble that is smooth with a matte finish). This is the marble I commonly see people use in the other marble posts on these forums.
As you can see, the design stands out some but not as much as the other marbles I will go into. One option you can do with this honed marble is use a colored filling to fill in the engraved design:
I do not remember the paint I used but I do know that it was one that I found when using the glowforge forums and so you can search for marble paint and probably find it on this forum.
So now lets go into polished white marble (marble that has the glossy finish)
As you can see, the design stands out much more and the variations in the veining of the marble standard out more. Hang in there though because I will go into the trade offs for picking this type of marble in my follow up post on this thread. There are down sides to using the polished marble.
So now, here is polished black marble
And here is polished black marble next to honed black marble
And finally for this first post, here is polished green marble
The cons of polished marble
No doubt, designs look amazing on the polished marble. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1) They are prone to breaking/chipping
With the polished finish on the marble, the edges become fragile which causes them to chip easily. When they do chip, the rest of the polished surface makes the chips stand out that much more. Below is an example of a ding that did not take much effort to have occur:
2) Vendor supplier
Polishing a marble to the quality like the ones in my photos is not something someone can do DIY with honed marble and still get the same look at mine. The boards used in my photos are all made by FoxRun brands which is a company that has dominated the market when it comes to these types of boards. So that means you really just have one brand but there are a few options where to best buy that brand. I will get into that in the longer session on vendors. I actually have a wholesale account with FoxRun but I do not order these boards from them often for some reasons that I will get into.
3) Standout veining
All marble will have veining however, the polishing of the marble will make the veining stand out much more then the honed marble. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Personally I think the variations of veining is really cool and what I love about the polished marble.
The thing you have to keep in mind about this is that it means there is a lot more variation from slab to slab. So if you are going to sell these slabs then you have to be prepared for customers that do not like the veining of the one they got. No matter how much you explain this in listings, you will get customers like this (yes, I can be a little snarky in my responses to some of my customers):
So if you sell them, be prepared for people often asking you if they can have a “prettier board” (whatever that means)…
Where to buy from - buying wholesale
At the time of when I first started selling engraved marble pastry slabs for my Etsy, I already had a webstaurantstore membership (I was getting my slates from them as well). So I started with ordering these slabs from webstaurantstore for about $25 and that comes with free shipping. Things were going well with that until suddenly they were out of stock. I needed some slabs and decided to order 20 from various online department stores. Out of the 20, only 3 were in perfect condition. The rest had little dings around the edge or damaged corners. It was not damage from just the shipping but from having been sitting on a department store shelf where people pick it up and over time, chip it. Once webstaurantstore restocked, I made sure to have a good amount of extras on hand in case they run out again. After selling over 300 marble slabs I decided to see if I can qualify for a wholesale account with FoxRun brands and they approved me.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you are ordering wholesale:
There are minimums for how much you have to spend to order and “free shipping” is not an option for most places.
When you order online and you do not have an established shipper (i.e. a contract set up with FedEx or UPS) then you can select for FoxRun to find the best shipping rate for you when it comes time to ship your items. The thing is that you will not know how much the shipping will be until the item ships and you get your bill. This means you will be taking a gamble on what the end total cost is. Additionally, you will be notified when your items are about to ship but you will not get information on when they actually ship and a tracking number. This means your order will just show up when it shows up.
If items are out of stock, they stay active online and so you can still order them. Sometimes your representative will reach out to you if you ordered an item that is not in stock (this usually only happens if you order a lot of that item). If you only ordered a few of an item that is out of stock then when you receive your order, those items that were out of stock will not be in the box (but you will not be charged for them). Basically, you do not know for sure what all you will be receiving and how much you will be paying until the bill comes. You can work with a representative to find out if specific items are in stock though.
Now it might sound like there are a lot of negatives with wholesale but there are some positives. Places like FoxRun also own a ton of other brands and so you get great access to so many options. If you are a cooking person, you could get lost for days in their catalog. You also get to be ahead of new trends. For example, FoxRun added some cool wine appetizer trays last year and I was able to buy a few hundred for an amazing deal and people were buying them engraved like hot cakes because they were new and not a lot of places had them yet. For things like marble, you will get access to tons of items that are not on places like webstaurantstore (i.e. marble cheese cutters, lazy susans, coasters) and those are usually pricy elsewhere. I will do a follow up post with all the various Foxrun marble items I have been able to fit into the glowforge. As always, happy to answer any questions and share my lessons learned.