Headstone Manufacturing Process
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. The Headstone Purchasing Tips article has a lot of useful information in regards to ordering a beautiful headstone or grave marker.
See all your Headstones choices