Headstone Engraving & Manufacturing
Personalization of headstones has been very important throughout the history of man-kind. There are very few cultures, such as Celtic cultures, that did not personalize the marker for the grave of their dearly departed. For the most part, the grave markers or headstones are personalized not only with the person's name and date of birth and passing, but also with a short story, verse, or even prayer, that gave an idea of the life the person lived. It is very important for us to leave some record of our lives, not only for our own peace of mind, but for generations to come to be able to know about their ancestors, and for human history all together.
Below are a few things customers should consider about headstone and gravestone engravings and the purchase of a headstone. (We will add tips to this list from time to time. Please let us know if you have any suggestions to include.)
Adding a Death Date to a Headstone:
We have always felt a strong importance for marking when we arrived in this world and when we leave it. Even when grave markers first began to be more personalized, dates were often seen as an important piece of information to note. This actually stands to say a lot, as in the earlier years of the memorial industry, it was not custom to highly-personalize a marker, but again, dates were always present. Dates are a crucial piece of information seen on almost all grave markers, and those that are needing a final date can be accomodated with the addition of a gravestone date plaque. Dates can be added to a marker in almost any format requested. From year dates only, to completely spelled out dates, or even with additions such as the place of birth and place of passing, this information will be pertinent to our future generations, for them to know when we lived and, to be able to see how our lives were in that time, if they decided to do further research. The information collected from headstones throughout history not only gives us insite to the ways of life of that time era, but can provide valuable statistical information regarding the people living in any certain area or region of the world. Also, on a more practical note, dates on a grave marker always intrigue those who are passing through, especially for older markers. Just being able to think of what we know about a certain period of time, we immedialty associate the person with that time era. This is a way that we could even feel close, in a way, to the deceased, even if you had never met them. There are even some people who make a hobby of creating rubbings of grave markers or headstones, and usually they seek out those with older dates, as they are of greater interest to these hobbyists.
If you have purchased a pre need headstone, we recommend you do one of the following:
If it is a bronze headstone, give your family the receipt and instructions to contact us with your death date. (We make the process of purchasing the additional date (or information) plaque as easy as possible.)
If it is a granite memorial, tell your family to contact a local monument engraver to add the death date when the time comes. Your cemetery should be able to recommend a local engraver.
Choosing a Grave Marker Design:
The border design of the marker can also be used to help depict the life of the loved one for whom the marker is for. Did the person like a certain flower, such as dogwod flowers or roses? Did they enjoy outdoor activities, such as hiking through a forest filled with evergreens? Or perhaps they lead a simple life, which would be perfectly depicted by a simple polished, or even wood grain border. When deciding exactly how the design of your headstone should look, carefully explore all of our designs while keeping in mind the person's interests and hobbies. The basic design can not be changed but with emblems and personal words and text you can customize the marker to the fullest.
Arranging the Text on a Design:
While pictures may speak volumes, nothing carries a message across more clearly than the written word. Adding a person's personal catch phrase, a religious verse or psalm they found great comfort in, or even a line from their favorite book can add a lot of character to the tombstone and give a better glimps at what kind of person they were. Again, while the basic look of a design cannot be changed, the arrangement of text (as opposed to border graphics and designs) can usually be customized to suit specific likes. If you have a specific idea of how you would like the written information laid out on the stone, you can note the request on the order in the Special Instructions field. You are always able to adjust or remove any information on the first layot of the marker, if it does not turn out as expected. You have a choice of adding an addition of a vase, a personal emblem or a ceramic picture which will make the headstone more personal. There are even certain emblems, such as banners or ribbons, that can be personalized with a small amount of text. A very good example that is quite popular on the companion markers is a ribbon featuring wedding rings, onto which you can add the date of marriage, or the amount of years the couple was married. Wether on an emblem, or in the body of the plaque, personal text always adds a touch of personality to the headstone, and others may find great comfort in the message the headstone is carrying across.
Checking your Layout Proof:
You will receive two free proofs, also called a “layouts”, of your marker. The gravestone layout is a scaled-down drawing of what the headstone will look like, for your review and approval. If there are any changes that need to be made, they can be submitted as a response to the first layout, and would be depicted ont he second layout, so long as the designer can accommodate the requests. You will recieve the first initial layout after we receive the cemetery's approval for your marker, and the second layout is only generated if changes are submitted for the first layout. This service is not provided by most headstone dealers. We strongly recommend that you carefully look over this proof before giving your formal approval of the headstone. Once we receive your approval of the layout for your headstone, the headstone would go into production. Once in production, no changes can be made to the layout of the headstone.
Lettering in a different Language:
We are able to accommodate some different lanuages on the headstones, but not all. Most English-related languages (where the lettering is the same as the letters of the English alphabet) can be added without any issues. For example, we have had many requests to add a Spanish or German sentence to the grave marker. Additional lettering in those languages are no problem and we can usually accommodate those additions without any extra charges (if the additional lettering is less than 25 characters). For foreign lettering where the letters are not similar to those of the English alphabet, we recommend contacting our office to make sure we can accomodate that lanuage on the gravestone, and to see if there would be any additional costs for adding the verse in said language.
For centuries, families have memorialized the passing of their dearly departed using a headstone or grave marker. These headstones not only mark the place where a person is laid to rest, but also provides future generations with a brief glimpse into the life of their per-descendants. Regardless, it is important for the marker to be created to withstand years and years of exposure to the elements, while also providing the personalization that the family desires. Memorials.com offers granite and bronze headstones, and each material has a unique manufacturing process. Below is a brief description on just how the headstones you order are made.
The process for granite headstones begins with factory workers first cutting down to size the large blocks of stone that come from granite quarries. After the stone is cut to the appropriate size, for example - 12" x 24" x 4" thick, it is polished as desired (usually just the top face for flat or flush markers). Polishing the stone not only refines the appearance, but also prepares the stone for the engraving or personalizing process. Once polished, the workers apply an adhesive-backed rubber stencil to the granite headstone face that is to be personalized. This stencil is used as a guide to engrave any information, such as words, dates, or emblems, into the granite headstone surface. In earlier years, the design was hand drawn onto the stone, and then hand-carved. This process, obviously, left a lot of room for error, which was very difficult to correct once engraved. Now the stencils are generated in a computer program that will accurately produce the best stencil for the requested design and information to be etched. While computers are now used to help the engraver in producing a more precise outcome on the stone, the process is still greatly reliant on the artisan's skill and ability to work with the programs and machinery.
Once the stencil has been applied, the engraving (also known as carving) is done in a special sandblasting room. In this room, workers use a high-pressure air hose to trace the design from the stencil into the granite headstones. Once the design is carved from the stencil, the engravers fill in the crevasses with black litho, so that the lettering stands out against the natural coloring of the stone. The uncut portion of the stencil is then removed, and, after the standard final preparations, the granite headstone is ready to be shipped.
The first step in making bronze headstones is to turn the bronze (which is actually a mixture of copper, tin, lead and zinc) into a liquid that can be poured into molds. Blocks of bronze are placed into a large pot and headed to about 2000 degrees, the temperature at which the bronze starts to melt. The information that is to be on the marker (which is selected in the layout phase of the order) is made into a mold for the melted bronze to be poured into. An artisan takes the outer design mold and inserts and measures all the information to be on the grave marker, including lettering and any selected emblems, by hand. Once the mold is prepared, the melted bronze goes into the molds for the headstone and is allowed to cool and set. The marker is not to be moved in any way in the setting phase, as it could cause the entire bronze plate to warp. Next, comes the "chasing" phase, in which workers grind around the details of the headstone design and information, removing any imperfections that may appear while the bronze headstones are in the mold. Once the bronze headstones have been chased, workers apply several coats of a paint, of your color choice, called oxidation. Then they rub a solvent around the lettering areas of the headstone. This removes some of the unwanted paint, which helps create the contrast between the polished letters and design, and the darker background. Once the details are complete, a lacquer coating is applied, the bronze is mounted to 4-inch think pieces of granite, and the bronze headstones are ready for shipping.
Whether the family has selected a bronze on granite, bronze only, or granite only memorial, it is very important to understand that the manufacturing process for the marker will take at least 4 - 6 weeks to be completed. These markers are made to last a lifetime, if not longer, and the time to make them is necessary to ensure that the highest quality marker is produced for your loved one.