Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Personalizing Your Monument

Families have definite ideas about what they want on their memorial.  Many will take ideas from existing monuments, within the cemetery, and embellish them. Others have their own design ideas, including verbiage and artwork that represent their religion, hobbies, sports, fraternal or social affiliations, favorite scenery or family photos.

The important thing is to let your counselor know, as best as you can, what you want in a memorial piece.  Send a picture of something you may have already seen or even draw a picture.  In other words...spell it out! Be sure to include as much information as possible. The more you participate in the design process, the faster your monument can be designed. Chances are your price quote will be much more accurate too.

Now that you have compiled all of the necessary design information, there is one additional question you'll need to answer concerning your monument design:

Should you include lithochrome (litho)?  And, if so, what color?

Lithochrome is paint that is put in the carving and lettering, after the design has been sandblasted on the monument.  Adding litho allows for easier reading of the memorial by adding contrast to design elements and lettering.  When choosing colors, you need to be mindful of the finish.  Remember that finished areas will already appear lighter when compared to polished surfaces.  

ie: Black litho will not show up in the polish of a black granite, however, it looks wonderful on frosted panels.

Litho is not required, in fact some cemeteries prohibit it’s use, so be sure to check with your cemetery prior to ordering your memorial stone.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Common Monument Finishes


The finish of a granite monument or memorial describes how the surfaces of the stone are manufactured.  A polished surface is one of the most requested for the front and back (or top) of a monument. This type of surface is created by slowly “sanding” the granite with water and abrasives until it becomes smooth and glassy. A rock pitched surface is also known as “rough-cut” or “rustic”.  Skilled stonecutters create this finish manually with a hammer and chisel.

The most common finish for an upright monument is polished front and back with the top and ends rock pitched

Grass (flat) markers and bases for upright monuments typically are polished on the top and rock pitched around the sides.

Other common finishes that you might see in your cemetery:

Steeled: A light smooth texture in the granite surface created by sand blasting.
Creates the look of a lighter, frosted panel or lighter, textured artwork on the granite’s surface. Helps create a contrast between the darker granite color and the lettering or sandblasting.

Sawn: It is created when a diamond tipped saw makes a straight cut through the granite. The resulting texture is fairly smooth, with shallow “linear lines” from the saw blade. The sawn area usually appears slightly lighter in color than the actual granite.

Axed: A wide variety of smooth and textured patterns made by pneumatic hammers and steel chisels.  If a surface must be smooth but it cannot be sawed to that shape, it usually has to be axed by a skilled stonecutter.

Shell Rock: A hand-cut rustic surface with a strong, scalloped or dish shaped appearance, cut by a skilled cutter with a hammer and chisels.

Keep in mind that the finish of the granite can affect the cost of the monument more than any other factor.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Common Monument Shapes

Choosing the shape of your monument is the first step in designing your memorial.  The most common monument shape is called Serpentine Top (or Serp Top).  Other popular choices are Oval and Flat. Other traditional shapes include Single Hearts, Double Hearts, Crosses and monuments with columns.

The most common shaping on the sides of a monument is Straight.  But the sides can also be Tapered, Convex or Concave or some combination of these shapes.  If you do not specify the shape of the sides, manufacturers will most likely make the sides straight - as this is less costly.

Feel free to use your imagination!  Monument manufacturers can usually cut any shape from the granite that you can design.  Be creative with your monument, and your family will have a stone that is unique and personal for generations to enjoy.  Special shapes may require special handling, therefore you should anticipate additional freight charges and possible added time for manufacturing and delivery.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bronze Grassmarkers and Granite Bases

Bronze markers are very popular choices for memorialization. They are especially common in cemeteries that do not allow upright monuments. The flat cemetery markers help minimize time spent on mowing and ground maintenance. Many flatmarkers and grassmarkers have removable vases to help reduce the risk of damage from mowers and other equipment.

There are many different manufacturers of bronze cemetery markers; each company has it's own unique sizes and designs from which to choose. Bases for the bronze are manufactured from granite slabs which are sized slightly larger than the bronze. Industry standards size the granite bases larger than the bronze to accommodate a 2 inch border of granite around the bronze marker. Granite manufacturers will also drill lug and vase holes to match the bronze manufacturer's specifications for attaching the bronze marker to the granite.

VA bronze markers are available to veterans through government websites. Companion bronze markers are available from several bronze manufacturers throughout the US. When purchasing your bronze marker, a counselor will be able to guide you through granite choices, base sizing and additional bronze vase options.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rubbing to Duplicate Monument Designs

When designing a memorial, families often start with monument designs and shapes already in their cemetery. Many headstones are aged and weathered, and the designs are no longer available; through monument dealers or manufacturers. Many families copy monument designs by transferring the face of the headstones to "transfer paper" - Creating what's called a Monument Rubbing.

Can I duplicate any monument in the cemetery?
Check with the cemetery to see if rubbing is even allowed in the cemetery. Rub only solid stones in good condition. Check for any cracks, evidence of previous breaks and adhesive repairs. Test paper and color before working on stone to be certain that no color bleeds through. Rub gently, carefully. Leave the stone in better condition than you found it.
When do I need a rubbing?
Any time that you want to duplicate a design or letter style or if you are duplicating a monument with the same Family Name.

When do I need a picture?
You will always need a picture if you are sending a rubbing to be duplicated.
Take pictures of the monument; One of the entire stone and one close up of the carving. Digital photos are by far the best photos to use in the duplication of any monument or memorial design.

When do I not need a rubbing?
If you only want to imitate a design or letter style and not match it exactly.  In this case only a picture is needed.

If the rubbing moves do I have to start over?
Yes, if the rubbing moves or if you complete the rubbing and realize that it is not clear you will need to redo the rub. You cannot use the same rubbing. It is virtually impossible to line it back up and get an accurate rub the second time. The best thing to do is to start from scratch.  This may sound time consuming but it will prevent you from having to do it again later.