“It is actually scratching at the grain of the stone,” Dmitri said, “and then the polishing.”
The proprietors of D & M Etching Monuments in Hawkesbury are artists in their own right, working in black granite most of the time, creating final tributes for those who have passed away.
“I feel a deep responsibility for what I am doing,” Dmitri said. “The monument is sometimes one of the last gifts that the family can give someone. To me, that’s very important.”
The photo-realistic etchings that the Martchenkos create require careful, patient work with their specialized tools. A single scratch in the wrong place can mar the image.
“But in our hands, the tool is like a pencil,” Zhanna explained.
The stone etching work they do is a traditional art form in their homelands of Russia and the Ukraine Republic. Dmitri learned the art after he emigrated to Canada and then he taught Zhanna not long after they met.
“He was gifted,” Zhanna said, smiling. “When he was a boy, he told me, he used to draw pictures on fences with pencil or chalk.”
Working from a photograph provided for reference, Zhanna outlines the basic image or images needed, then does some preliminary etchings. Dmitri takes over then to finish the detailed etchings and together they polish the final stone image, brining out its highlights.
Memorial stones are not the only thing that Dmitri and Zhanna create in their workshop. Some of their commissions include special anniversary etchings, as well as ornamental scenic views.
“To see the results, to see people’s eyes when they see (the etchings) and know they are happy with it,” said Zhanna, “that is wonderful.”