TOMBSTONE RUBBING

     I checked out a couple of sites on the internet before I started & I also talked to an artist I met about materials I would need & how to do the rubbings.
     Tombstone Rubbing is a fine art & was popular here in the states several years ago.  It's not done here as much anymore, but it is my understanding that it is still pursued in England, regularly.
     I have learned several things from my first attempt at doing the rubbings.
     Being in a cemetery has a very calming effect on you.  It is most generally a very quiet, peaceful setting.
     Tombstone Rubbing is a way to remember or recognize the deceased.  As you walk through the cemetery, & look at the dates of births & deaths that are registered on the stones, you wonder about the person...  What was their life like?  Was it good?  What about their families?  How did they die?  Are there still family members who are alive & who care about & remember the deceased?
     I've seen headstones from the plague era.  (But I wasn't in to rubbings then.)  This week-end I saw a lot of gravesites from the early 1900's where the deceased persons were only 24-40 years old when they died.  It makes you wonder how they died...  Maybe lack of medicines & medical knowledge...

     The places on the stones that didn't rub clearly are usually places where the stone has crumbled.  Since some of these stones are hard to read, I will include photographs for some of them.  I will also put in photo's of stones that were too deteriorated to rub.  I found them to be interesting even when rubbing was not possible.


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Ellen Thompson Rubbing

     This was taken from an old logging cemetery in Alcona county, Michigan.
     Ellen's tombstone & one from a soldier that had no dates are the only stones left standing.  In fact there were only two others whose stones had been knocked down.  I understand that at one time the cemetery was quite large.


Picture of Ellen's Headstone
Ellen's headstone after it was cleaned.
This stone is 129 years old.


Cemetery
This is a picture of what is left of the cemetery.


Marked Picture of cross
In "Real Life" the cross is not there...
I have heard stories about images appearing in photo's
that the eye can not see.  This is one of those images.


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SUNRISE IN A CEMETERY

One of the best things about Wintertime is that you can sleep in and still be up in time to watch the sunrise.  That is just what I did this morning.  I stood outside in the cold, quiet, and peaceful air and watched the beauty of Godís creation appear over the mountaintops.  It was such a glorious sight.  I stood there and saw the red clouds change to pink then purple and then yellow.  I looked down on the snowy ground and watched it sparkle with joy in the morning sun.  I breathed in deep and smiled.  I could feel the love of God all around me and even though it was way below freezing I still felt warm inside.

The writer Robert Fulghum once quoted a great piece of advice given to a friend of his.  It was to "Spend one hour some Sunday watching the sunrise while walking in a cemetery."  Since I have a cemetery next to my backyard I decided to follow this advice myself today.  Watching the sunshine glistening off the gravestones quickly put everything in perspective for me.  I realized that like my quiet neighbors one day my body was going to be in the ground somewhere and that this beautiful world was going to keep going right on without me.  I saw too that if I was going to live then I needed to live now and that if I was going to love then I needed to love today.

God only gives us so many days here on Earth.  It is up to us to make them count.  Donít wait until you are six feet underground to watch the sun come up.  Get out there and watch the sunrise today.  Donít wait until you are on your deathbed to tell people how much you love them.  Tell them today.  Donít wait until you can no longer lift your arms to hug someone.  Hug them today.  Donít wait in a box until six people carry you out in a box.  Break out of your box today.  Donít keep waiting for the world to change until you are no longer a part of it.  Change your world today.  Choose love, share joy, and help God to make this world a better place today and forever.

Joseph J. Mazzella


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Richard Rubbing

Curtisville Cemetery
Alcona County, Mi.

Picture of Richard's Headstone


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Peter Sinclair Rubbing

Curtisville Cemetery
Alcona County, Mi.

Picture of Peter's Headstone


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The lonely old man
Who looks on
As others live.
His longing for companionship
is buried beneath his wrinkled brow.
The world doesn't need him now.
His love has died ~
And with her,
his purpose in life...
His need for love is there,
buried beneath his tattered clothing.
But no one sees him.
And there's no one left
to remember...
(Written by Evermind)


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John Bowser Rubbing     Clarisa Bowser Rubbing

Curtisville Cemetery
Alcona County, Mi.

"I have faught a good fight.  I have finished my course.
I have kept the faith."
"She has done what she could.  She has gone to rest."

The Bowser's Headstone

     John's was the first rubbing I did.  The inscription was overgrown with a really hard fungus.  I tried the toothbrush & it didn't even phase it.  I hadn't brought anything to pick away the encrusted fungus because I wasn't aware of that problem.  I ended up using the tips of my fingernails & the crystals popped off!  But by using my nails as a file, I ended up with very worn down fingernails...
     John's was one of the worse stones that I found in the cemetery & cleaning it was very time consuming.  I ended up spending about 2 hours on it.  But when I was done, the stone looked almost new!  I now have the satisfaction of knowing that his stone will be readable for another 80 years.
     Clarisa's engraving was actually done on the other side of John's.


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Baby Fredrick Headstone Picture

These are more pictures from the Curtisville Cemetery.

This cemetery was very unkempt.
The sunken grave was fairly fresh.

Picture of Broken Headstones

Picture of Sunken Gravesite


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"Do not save your loving speeches
For your friends till they are dead;
Do not write them on their tombstones,
Speak them rather now instead.
- Anna Cummins


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List of Materials

Charcoal
Chalk
Crayon
Oil Pastel Sticks
Brass Wax
Scissors
Masking Tape
Spray Bottle of water
Soft Cloth
Toothbrush
Soft Brush
Tweezers
Rice Paper or Tracing Paper
Butcher Block Paper or Freezer Paper
Sealer Spray

     I have found that charcoal sticks & chalk sticks are very soft & crumble.  They seem to work ok if you can get the effect you want rubbing in one even downward stroke.  However, going over the stone only once will miss detail.  When you go back over the stone using chalk or charcoal, it leaves more dust & you seem to lose the detail you were going after.  I haven't tried crayon yet.  The oil pastels were suggested by my artist friend.  They seem to work the best out of the materials I've tried.  However they are very soft & break easily.  Using them in pieces doesn't seem to be a problem.  I found that it usually takes 1 oil pastel stick to do 1 rubbing.  I bought 12 in a box for $1.09 so the cost per rubbing is cheap.  I saw a rubbing done with Brass Wax.  It was beautiful!  Brass wax is very expensive & hard to find.  I will keep looking for it to do special rubbings.
     You will need scissors to cut your paper.
     You will use Masking tape to tape your paper securely to the headstone before you rub.
     You may need a spray bottle filled with water to clean dirt or mud off of the headstone.  Wipe dry with a soft cloth.  Make sure the surface is completely dry before you secure your paper.
     The toothbrush, soft brush & tweezers will be used to clean the stone to prepare it for the rubbing.  As a tombstone ages it becomes encrusted with a type of fungus.  As it dries, it can become crystalized & almost appears as a fossel.  I found that because of this substance, a lot of the engravings on the headstones were covered & could not be seen.  If soft enough, it can be easily removed by using the toothbrush or soft brush.  (I use about a 1 1/2" paintbrush.  Another suggestion was a shoe polish brush.)  If the fungus has crystalized, it can still be easily removed by using tweezers or another object to "pick" it away.  Please take care though, not to scratch the stone.
     This cleaning will help restore the headstone & it will last anywhere from 50-100 years longer!  Besides enjoying a relaxing hobby, you will be helping to preserve someone's memory & history!
     The site I found on the internet suggested using rice paper or tracing paper.  I tried this & it did work on a few of the stones.  I found that the freezer paper I bought did a better job though, and it didn't have to be pieced together.  Tape the shiny side down against the surface of the stone & use the flat side for rubbing.
     Finally, to seal your rubbing so it won't smear...  I used a sealer for many crafts.  Krylon (name brand) seemed to work well.  A cheaper sealer that may work also would be hairspray.  It is used to seal many craft projects.  Make sure the sealer is dry before you remove the paper.  I simply roll the rubbing up & tape the ends with masking tape.  This works well using the freezer paper because the shiny side ends up outside & the tape can be peeled off easily later without damaging the paper.
     I will add different materials & suggestions to this list as I practice & become more knowledgable.  I will also be adding & changing the rubbings & pictures.  I hope you try doing the rubbings & that you'll enjoy it as much as I am.


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Enclosed from an e-mail...
     I saw your site regarding tombstone rubbing and your reference to using freezer paper.  I would not recommend using this paper unless it is ACID FREE.  If it is not acid free, it will turn yellow and decompose in time - the more acid and the more humid the climate, the faster it will yellow and become brittle.  You can get rolls of acid free paper (similar to freezer paper) at art stores.  I was able to pick up a roll 2' wide and 60' long for $13 in an art store in Moline, IL.
Les Niemi


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Click on the "~DASH~"  to see the film.)


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Soft Fungus

This is a soft fungus that is slowly covering the whole stone.
It usually brushes off quite easily, but tends to leave a discolored spot,
looking almost damp, on the stone.


Crystalized Fungus

This is the type of fungus that has already hardened & crystalized.
Once it has reached this stage, it will usually come off
without leaving too much of a change on the stone.


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Find out information about burial Sites of Famous People.
FIND A GRAVE


Santa

How could Evermind put this up on her serious page?
I'm so ashamed of myself!!!
(Thank you, STAREK!)


PICTURES OF CEMETERIES
Both people & pets.
Click on the cemetery name.


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