Rules & Regulations for Cemetery Headstones
Most cemeteries regulate the headstones placed on graves within their grounds. Cemetery Rules and Regulations, as they are known, stipulate such attributes as material, size, and type of headstone.
Before you order a cemetery headstone for your loved one, it is very important to become familiar with the requirements set forth by the cemetery. They can and will refuse any headstone that does not meet their requirements.
What You Need To Know
Here are questions you may want to ask when inquiring with the cemetery about their restrictions of cemetery headstones. If at all possible get a copy of the cemetery rules and regulations for your own records.
Questions to ask:
What type of cemetery headstones are allowed? Example: Upright headstone, flat bronze grave marker, flat granite grave marker, side by side companion, double interment grave marker, individual, infant, or veteran's marker, etc.
Regarding a companion memorial, which side is the husband and wife on? Traditionally the husband is on the left and wife on the right, that is when viewing from the foot of the graves
What are the minimum and maximum sizes allowed for cemetery headstones? A cemetery usually has a range of sizes they allow for the headstone. Make sure the size you purchase is within their range.
Is a flower vase allowed? Some types of cemetery headstones are available with a flower vase in bronze or granite. Make sure your cemetery allows a vase before selecting this option.
Are there any granite color restrictions? While most cemeteries do not regulate granite color, a number of them will stipulate the color of granite allowed, especially for bronze markers with a granite base.
If they allow bronze markers, do they restrict the bronze coloring? Some cemeteries refer to the bronze coloring as oxidation. Most cemeteries allow any bronze coloring, but a few will restrict the color to dark or light brown. Make sure you know what colors are allowed before selecting this option.
What other particular specifications do they require? A few cemeteries will have specific requirements such as lawn mower proof edges (for the granite), specific size requirements for the granite base, or that a Christian symbol be incorporated into the memorial design (Catholic cemeteries). It is wise to be aware of any particular requirements before finalizing a headstone order.
Is any paperwork required for the placement of a cemetery headstone? Cemeteries often have special forms such as a permit or authorization that need to be filled out for the placement of a cemetery headstone. These forms often require the signature of the lot owner(s) or next of kin before they accept a headstone for installation.
Is there an installation fee applicable to cemetery headstone? If the cemetery will install the headstone then there is most likely an installation fee. This is normal as they are performing a service.
Once you have the answers to the questions above you can start pricing headstones from monument dealers in you area or even online.
Required Cemetery Paperwork
Many cemeteries require some sort of documents to be filled out for placement of a cemetery headstone on the grave. These documents normally call for information regarding the specifications headstone and sometimes require a drawing. They may also request information about the monument dealer who is selling the headstone to you. Finally the lot owner or next of kin may need to sign the form authorizing the placement of the cemetery headstone.
In many cases the company in which you are purchasing the headstone from will assist you with this paperwork. They should be able to complete the forms and provide most of the required information pertaining to the cemetery headstone.
Know Your Rights
One important thing to understand is your rights as a consumer. Specifically where you want to purchase the cemetery headstone from. While most cemeteries operate in an honest manner, some will resort to unethical tactics to try and discourage a customer from purchasing cemetery headstones from an outside dealer.
A cemetery may flat out say they do not accept cemetery headstones from outside sources, or they may say that an installation fee will be levied if you purchase from another dealer, but not from them. According to the FTC this is considered illegal by federal law as it is restrictive of free trade.
Prepare to be Discouraged
Although the majority of cemeteries operate in a fair and ethical manner, there are some that may not. Here are some of the things that may be said by the cemetery personnel to keep you from purchasing from another source.
- You may be told that if you purchase from an outside dealer there will be an additional fee. The truth is this may be illegal as they are penalizing you for purchasing elsewhere.
- They may say they are not responsible for cemetery headstones purchased from an outside dealer. This is the most popular statement we hear. While they may not be responsible for damage caused by damaged incurred during delivery, acts of nature or vandalism, they certainly are responsible if it is damaged due to worker negligence after they accept it.
- They may try to question the quality of the cemetery headstones sold by outside dealers. The fact is many monument dealers such as Casket Outlet purchase cemetery headstones from the same sources that cemeteries do.
- You may be flat out told that they do not accept cemetery headstones from outside dealers. As long as the cemetery headstone meets their requirements they are supposed to accept it.
If you feel you are being treated unfairly by the use of scare tactics simply tell the cemetery representative that you will report them to the Federal Trade Commission and the local Better Business Bureau. In most cases this will usually keep them from pursuing it.
Gravestone Delivery Issues
Cemeteries throughout the country vary in how they operate and deal with gravestones purchased from outside dealers. Therefore, it is imperative that the monument dealer you use contacts the cemetery to verify that the gravestone meets the cemetery requirements before putting it into production. In addition here are some facts to consider regarding certain delivery situations.
Cemetery Applications, Setting Permits and Authorization Forms
These are various forms one of which may be required by your cemetery for the placement of a headstone on the grave. These documents normally call for information regarding the specifications of the gravestone and sometimes a drawing. They may also request information about the monument dealer who is selling the headstone to you. Finally the lot owner or next of kin may need to sign the form authorizing the placement of the memorial.
If your cemetery requires one of these documents your monument dealer should acquire it from them and fill in the details pertaining to the memorial specifications and monument dealer information. Monument dealers should have no problem taking care of this type of paperwork since they deal with many of the cemeteries on a regular basis.
Catholic cemeteries are maintained by the Catholic Diocese. These cemeteries typically require an application/permit to be submitted for the installation of a memorial. Their rules are usually stringent and almost always require a Christian symbol such as a cross, image of Jesus or a saint to be presented on the gravestone.
These are cemeteries in outlying towns and rural areas. Most of these cemeteries do not have a business office and are not maintained by a full time grounds crew. If you are ordering from an out-of-town monument company such as Casket Outlet, then an alternative point of delivery may be necessary .
If the cemetery is not capable of receiving the shipment, the headstone may be delivered to a local business. It is important that the business accepting the delivery is capable of receiving the shipment from a freight truck. This may necessitate having a loading dock or fork lift to offload the heavier types of gravestones. Many of the smaller gravestones can be offloaded by hand, that is two sets of hands one being the truck driver's.
Bronze Memorials: Timeless Durability Memorializing a Loved One
Bronze is a metal alloy that has been around for thousands of years. It was around 700 BC that the Romans advanced the use of bronze for many applications including weaponry, armor, furniture, cooking utensils and statuary used to memorialize the likes of gods, athletes and heroes. Over the centuries bronze has been phased out for many of these applications except for memorialization and art. A natural characteristic of bronze is that upon oxidation, it forms a greenish patina that is most desired among artists. Durability and the ability to weather well make it an ideal choice for cemetery memorials.
Many of the cemeteries and memorial parks across the country are moving toward requiring bronze memorials as the only form of memorialization allowed in the cemetery. They reason it is to preserve the look of the landscaping and it is easier to maintain the grounds when all cemetery memorials are at lawn level.
Benefits of Bronze
Outside of the cemetery requirements, there are some real benefits to using bronze as a memorial to mark the grave of a loved one.
First – the casting process allows intricate details and fine artwork to be incorporated into the designs. Most bronze memorial manufacturers have pre-designed templates from which you can add lettering, dates and emblems to personalize the memorial. All of these templates allow for a future date of death to be added in the form of a bronze death date scroll if it is for a companion memorial and one of the persons is still living.
Second - bronze is a very durable alloy. If you have ever seen centuries old public statuary made from bronze, you will observe that they remain virtually unchanged except for the coloring. Bronze is very good at maintaining its shape for centuries and therefore makes an excellent medium for cemetery memorialization.
Third - current manufacturing techniques have made bronze an affordable option for memorialization. Additionally, recent technology now makes it possible to take photographs and create a bronze memorial that is a collage highlighting key moments in one’s lifetime.
Types of Bronze Memorials
While the application of bronze for memorialization is in wide use, there are not too many different types of memorials made from this ancient alloy.
Bronze Plaques – consist mainly of a plate made from bronze in which a design, lettering, dates and some sort of inscription are cast on the surface. In most cemeteries the plaque is secured to either a granite base or in some cases a concrete foundation. Many bronze plaques are secured to a vertical surface such as an upright monument, statue pedestal or mausoleum crypt front. Versatility is a key factor in their wide use in cemeteries, architectural applications and signage.
Statuary – for centuries having been made from bronze, offers excellent testimony to its ability to withstand the elements of time and Mother Nature. In many of the greatest historical cities around the world, you can witness some truly amazing works of art showcased in museums and outdoor public places. Bronze statues can be seen in many cemeteries across the country. They are usually cast in the likeness of the person they are memorializing.
Cremation Urns – are made utilizing some of the very same techniques used to produce bronze statues. Bronze urns come in a wide variety of shapes and styles. Some are made as small statues with a hollowed out portion to contain the cremated ashes, while others are made from sheet bronze welded together creating geometric shapes.
How Bronze Grave Markers are Made?
Casting the Bronze Memorial Plaque
Bronze grave markers are made from the alloy bronze which is composed of copper and tin with small amounts of lead and zinc. When grave markers are produced from bronze, a sand mold of the bronze plaque complete with lettering is set up and prepared for pouring. Bronze ingots are placed in a crucible or pot and melted under intense heat, usually around 2000 degrees, and then the molten bronze is poured into the mold.
Chasing the Bronze Plaque
After cooling, the bronze markers go through a process called chasing. The chasing process consists of removing imperfections by lightly grinding the bronze plaque until the desired surface texture and shape is achieved. The worker will then define any areas of detail that might not have transferred well in the casting process.
Finishing the Plaque
The worker will then apply several coats of oxidation (paint-usually dark brown) to the bronze plaque. Once the oxidation is dry, he will (using a solvent) rub areas of the bronze grave marker, removing the paint and exposing the top edge of the letters and sculpted design features to reveal the natural bronze coloring. This provides a beautiful contrast to the dark brown background. After the details are complete, a lacquer coating is applied to provide the final finish.
Assembly to a Granite Base
The finished bronze plaque is then secured to a granite base, usually 4" thick, with brass hardware. When the bronze plaque is securely mounted on to the granite, the two most durable materials are combined for timeless unity. The finished product is a bronze grave marker which will stand as an everlasting tribute to a loved one who has passed.
Bronze Grave Markers are usually available with an assortment of beautiful designs to choose from. All adult bronze grave markers can be further personalized by adding an emblem or two and an epitaph.
How Granite Headstones are Made?
Quarrying the Granite for Headstones
The Granite Headstones you see in cemeteries are made from natural granite that was formed hundreds of millions of years ago from molten lava. After cooling, granite rock formations were formed throughout the world where many quarries are now established. At these quarries huge blocks of granite are extracted by means of drilling, blasting and sawing. The blocks are then sent to a factory where automated saws and polishers with the help of skilled workers cut and finish the stone for different applications such as building materials, home furnishings and granite headstones. When used as a grave memorial, skilled craftsman and artists utilize the benefits of modern technology to create a work of art that is worthy of memorializing a departed loved one.
Design and Lettering Process
The process of creating a granite headstone starts with a piece of granite that has already been cut to the specified size and with the appropriate finish. In most instances the surface to be engraved is polished. An artist lays on the surface of the granite headstone a stencil made of rubber with an adhesive backing in which the design and lettering has already been transferred to. The artists will now cut the design and lettering out with an artist's knife such as an X-Acto knife.
Today, many companies are now using efficient computer stencil cutting machines that allow for greater accuracy and higher volume output. When the design and lettering is cut out from the stencil, the artist will pull out the area of the design to be engraved thus exposing the surface of the granite headstone to be carved.
Carving Granite Headstones
Granite headstones are placed in a sandblasting room for the final carving process. A worker uses high air pressure and special sand forced through a nozzle at the tip of the hose which then carves out the design and lettering. The area of the granite headstone covered by the stencil is well protected. Sandblasting is very much like erosion only at a very high rate of speed and in a controlled environment. After sandblasting, the carved areas are colored in black to provide contrast so the lettering and design will stand out. The person sandblasting the granite headstone will now put the finishing touches and prepare it for delivery
How to Install Granite Vases on a Headstone Monument?
For best results with epoxy, make sure outside temperature is above 55°F.
Items Needed In addition to these instructions and the epoxy we have provided, you will need a few household items.
1. Low tack painters tape or regular masking tape
2. Ruler or measuring tape
3. Paper towels
4. Small water supply
6. Single edge razor blade
7. Putty knife
8. Flat piece of cardboard or paper plate
Step 1 Cleaning the Granite Surface
The first thing to do is identify the position on the monument where the granite vases will sit. This is usually on either side of the die (the upright portion of the monument). Using Windex clean the area very well making sure there is no residue left behind. After the initial cleaning, take your hand a run it over the surface you just cleaned. If it doesn’t feel like glass (that is if it is a polished surface) and you feel slight coarseness, this may be due to stubborn debris or mineral deposits from excessive watering. It is very important to remove this debris as you want the epoxy to stick to the actual granite and not the debris. Take your single edge razor blade and holding it at about a 45° angle scrape the surface of the granite removing the debris. Once you have finished this clean with Windex again then give it a final rinse with water.
Step 2 Positioning the Vase
After the surface has thoroughly dried, take the flower vases and place them in position where you want them to sit. Using a ruler or measuring tape, make sure there is equal distance from front to back and then from side to side. Once you have them in position, take the painter’s tape or masking tape and use 3 small pieces of tape to mark the position of the vase. Then remove the granite vases and place them upside down on the ground next to the mounting position.
Step 3 Mixing the Epoxy
Next mix all of the epoxy using the putty knife and flat piece of cardboard or paper plate. Make very sure that epoxy is thoroughly mixed. You can tell it is mixed well when the color is uniform in appearance. If you are using an epoxy that was not provided make sure it is suitable for natural stone.
Step 4 Applying the Epoxy
Using the putty knife apply some epoxy to the bottom of the vase. Spread it all over the bottom for thorough coverage, then scrap it toward the center of the base. You’ll want to apply just enough so that when you set the vase and press down on it the epoxy thoroughly covers the space between the vase and the granite surface but it does not ooze out excessively from the sides. Since you have at least 15-30 minutes working time with this epoxy, it is best to start with a small amount and if needed you can always lift up the granite vase and add a little more.
Step 5 Installing the Vases
After you spread the epoxy on the bottom of the vase, turn it right side up and place it within the 3 pieces of tape you used to mark the position. Make sure to locate the drain hole and position the vase so it points outward to the side of the monument and not the back or front. Use your body’s weight to press down on the vase to ensure the epoxy spreads evenly between the granite vase and surface.
Step 6 Clean Up
Remove the pieces of tape. Using the straight edge razor blade, scrap up any excess epoxy that seeps out from the bottom of the vase. Then get a damp paper towel and wipe up any epoxy residue that remains.
If the base of the monument is not level the granite vase could slide off its position before the epoxy fully sets. To prevent this get a couple of long pieces of tape and secure the base of the vase to the surface where it sits. This is to prevent the vase from sliding off its position while the epoxy cures. Please allow up to 24 hours for the epoxy to fully harden before you remove the tape.
Cleaning and Preservation of Tombstones, Headstones & Gravestones
Did you recently visit the grave of a loved one only to discover their tombstone was dirty and in need of cleaning or preservation? Over a period of time tombstones will accumulate a layer of deposits resulting from hard water, dust, dirt, lichens, mold or fungus that usually grow on porous stone.
Due to the different types of materials used as a tombstones, it is first important to understand how each material needs to be cleaned. This article will serve as an overview to the general aspects of cleaning tombstones and will reference other publications for further reading.
Materials Used For Cleaning Tombstones
First let us look at the different materials used to make tombstones. Natural stone throughout history has been the top choice for cemetery tombstones. Among the most common types of stone used as tombstones are sandstone, limestone, marble and granite.
Limestone and sandstone represent the softest stone of the group. These materials have a hardness between 3-4 on the Mohs hardness scale and were used as tombstones mainly because they are easy to carve. Marble having a hardness of 4-7 is also considered soft, but it yields more beauty with it's veining patterns and finer grain which can support intricately carved details. Granite is the hardest of this group and it shows with a hardness rating of 7-9. Granite tombstones will withstand a more thorough cleaning than its counterparts.
In addition to natural stone, bronze has been gaining in popularity with modern day memorial parks as a choice for tombstones. Many of today's cemeteries are moving toward an all bronze memorial park since they make the grounds easier to maintain.
Headstone Cleaning Tools and Methods
Before cleaning a tombstone you must first get permission from the lot owner or next of kin, that is if you are not a relative of the person interred. Also tombstones that are to be cleaned need to be evaluated to make certain they are in stable condition with no flaking or risk of further deterioration from the cleaning process.
Limestone, Sandstone & Marble Tombstones
For cleaning the tombstones made of soft natural stone in this group, here is a list of generally accepted items to use:
- Plenty of water
- Natural bristle brushes/tooth brushes
- Non-ionic soaps/detergents
- TLC (tender loving care)
Here are some items you DO NOT want to use when cleaning tombstones as they may cause irreparable damage to the tombstone you are trying to preserve:
- Wire bristled brushes or metal instruments
- Acid or acidic cleaners
- Household cleaners - soap (Ivory), detergents (liquid or powder), Borax, Clorox, TSP, Calgon, Fantastik, Formula 409, Spic and Span (or any other abrasive cleaner)
- Sealants of any kind
Rather than trying to "reinvent the wheel" we suggest referring to these articles as they provide in depth information on cleaning tombstones made from natural stone. Cleaning Gravestones, Monuments & Stone Sculptures Preserving Historic Cemeteries - Texas Preservation Guidelines
When cleaning granite tombstones it is best to follow the same prescription for cleaning limestone, sandstone or marble tombstones. Additionally, due to granite's durability, it is all right to use a more aggressive scrubbing technique. You can also use a pressure washer on granite tombstones as long as it is in stable condition and reveals no fracturing or cracks.
A word of caution, when using a pressure washer be careful if the tombstone's carving or engraved areas have any kind of coloring in it such as black. The pressure washer can and will strip it out leaving little or no contrast for the viewer to read the lettering on the tombstone. Taking this into consideration it is best to use a pressure washer only on granite tombstones that have no contrasting paint in the engraved areas.
On polished granite tombstones, calcium deposits from hardened water often leave a hazed coating on the polished surface. It is recommended to use a cuttle bone to remove these calcium deposits. You can also purchase cuttle bone from a pet store as they are commonly stocked for caged birds. They are very inexpensive and it would be advised to purchase several. To use, simply make contact with the flat side of the cuttle bone to the polished stone surface and rub it in a back and forth motion. The cuttle bone acts as a very mild abrasive removing the deposits while polishing surface of the stone.
Bronze Tombstones consist of a bronze plaque mounted to a base usually of granite or concrete and lay flat at lawn level. As a result of being mounted flat, bronze tombstones are more susceptible to standing water and landing debris.
Since bronze tombstones consist of two components you can utilize the cleaning method for cleaning soft stone for a concrete base, and the polished granite method for cleaning the granite base.
The bronze plaque is furnished with a factory applied lacquer coating to seal and preserve the original appearance. Over a period of time this finish will eventually deteriorate and is accelerated through neglect. Proper care will preserve the finish and prevent the need for restoration.
Here is a good manual titled "Preserving Bronze Plaques And Memorials ". It provides all the instructions you need as well as a list of supplies. You can also purchase the preservation kit with the necessary supplies or just the wax here.
Environmentally Friendly Tombstone Cleaning
For those of you who are interested in a more environmentally friendly approach to cleaning tombstones, there is a rather unusual method of using snails. That's right... snails. Snails are known to consume lichens, mold, fungus and algae. Many of these growths are what causes tombstones to become 'dirty' and in need of a cleaning. You can read the full article here: " A Unique Method For Cleaning Headstones ".
Ordering a Grave Marker in Time for Memorial Day
Memorial Day will be upon us in no time. During this holiday a host of festivities across the country will occur. Parades will be scheduled, sporting events will take place and families in all corners of the US will gather to enjoy the three day weekend that is afforded to them. What started as a day to honor those who died during service in the military forces has evolved to a day in which we honor anyone close to us who has passed away.
It is on this day that many families will visit cemeteries to pay their respects to a loved one. When visiting a loved one’s grave, it is the grave marker that serves as a focal point when we communicate our thoughts and feelings to that person. If the grave space has not yet been marked with a grave marker, now is the time to make plans to order one (assuming you are reading this at least 3 months from Memorial Day).
Ordering a Grave Marker
The time it takes to manufacture a grave marker can vary. Many factors come into play such as the company you are purchasing from, the complexity of the design and the level of customization. In general, a standard grave marker or headstone can take on average about 2-3 months for production and delivery to the cemetery. Some dealers can get it out sooner and some may take longer, but this is a good estimate.
If you are planning on ordering a grave marker for placement by Memorial Day, it is best to start early enough so there is no last minute rushing about to get it delivered and installed. We recommend the following steps to ensure you have the grave marker in place by Memorial Day.
1. Check with the Cemetery for Restrictions
Before any grave marker is ordered, you first need to know what the cemetery requirements are. You can acquire from their office a copy of the rules and regulations. Within this document there should be a section stipulating what material, size and type of grave markers are allowed for placement on the grave. Also ask them how long they need to install a grave marker once it is delivered. Some cemeteries can install them within a few days to a week, but installations can be held up by bad weather or scheduled burial services, which cemeteries always prioritize. Make sure to consider the time to install the grave marker along with the production time a dealer gives you when deciding how much total time is needed.
2. Consult Family Members about the Grave Marker Options
If you have several family members involved in this project, meet with them to formulate a general idea of what kind of grave marker you will be buying. It is best to consider in advance simple details such as the design theme, personalization, an epitaph and other options such as a vase or granite color. Having a general idea of what you want will give you a starting point when shopping around.
3. Meet With Grave Marker Dealers
You can set up meetings with potential monument dealers to get an idea if they can provide the memorial you want within the time you need it. Make sure to have any questions you need answered written and handy when meeting with them. Ask for samples of their work. If you are considering an online company, you may want to read the article titled “Tips for Buying Head Stones Online”. Whichever company you decide to go with, make sure you get some kind of assurance that the grave marker will be delivered within the time they propose.
4. Order the Grave Marker
Once you have all the information needed, proceed with placing the grave marker on order. Do not spend too much time mulling over it, especially if you are having family members come into town to visit to your loved one’s grave. It is best to add at least 4-6 weeks to the total time you estimate will be needed to produce, deliver and install the grave marker. This will allow some additional time for leeway.
Headstone Designs: Selecting a Fitting Design for Your Loved One
When a loved one has passed away we are left with a void in our lives that is immeasurably vast. After the memorial service and subsequent cemetery burial, there is an unmarked grave in need of a headstone or grave marker. Headstone designs are a way for us to make a visual connection with the one we so dearly miss.
The Designing Process
After the burial has taken place and a little time has passed, we are able to reflect upon the significance of our loved one and the life they lived. It is within these moments that inspiration to create a headstone design may settle upon us. It is suggested that some time be taken to thoroughly consider possibilities for headstone designs, as the permanence and cost of a completed headstone will not allow for a second take.
Ideas For Headstone Designs
Headstone designs are generally reflective of the individual's personality whose grave they are meant to mark. If the person was a big nature lover there are designs that carry an outdoor motif such as evergreens or a mountain scene to set a breathtaking background. Also in this vein of headstone designs are numerous floral patterns derived from such popular flowers as roses, dogwoods, lilies and tulips.
Floral headstone designs are very popular in today's American culture. Each flower has a symbolic meaning and for this reason the are chosen to grace the design of a loved one's memorial.
If religion played a big part in the person's life, there are numerous religious themed headstone designs available. If a religion is not represented among the headstone designs available, then any design can be accented through the use of religious emblems or symbols.
Personalizing The Headstone
Upon settling on a headstone design, now comes the task of personalizing the headstone. Typically the person's name and life dates are engraved or cast on the headstone depending on the material.
Emblems and symbols are usually 3" - 4" in size and can be either cast on a bronze headstone or sandblasted on a granite headstone. Emblems come in the widest array of subjects such as animals, flowers, religious icons, military credentials, sports, music and all sorts of vehicles to name but a few. Their purpose is to further accent the memorial of the person it is for.
With the need to personalize a headstone, more and more individuals are choosing headstone designs that incorporate a ceramic picture. Porcelain pictures or portraits are the result of a proprietary process that enables the likeness of a loved one to be emblazoned on a ceramic or porcelain oval tile. They are available in both color and black & white versions and many shapes such as rectangular, circular, and heart shapes.
Headstone Epitaphs & Verses
If there is enough room left on the headstone, you can choose a beautiful epitaph to compliment the design. Some choose to borrow from existing epitaphs while others prefer to create their own or rely on other sources such as biblical scripture.
The overall design coupled with a fitting epitaph or verse will make for a truly unique memorial that will serve as an everlasting tribute to the one you love.
Before committing to a finished product it is wise to first sketch out a plan for the headstone design or have the monument company who is handling your order do so. This gives you the opportunity to review the work to be created and make any changes before it is too late. Most monument dealers will offer this added service at no cost to you.
Headstone Symbols: Understanding Cemetery Symbolism
When choosing a headstone we often pick headstone symbols and emblems with little knowledge about the symbolism behind it. This glossary of cemetery symbolism has been assembled from various sources, which are credited at the bottom of this page, to help you understand the meaning of the various symbols.
Early Christians used the anchor as a disguised cross, and as a marker to guide the way to secret meeting places. A Christian symbol of hope, it is found as funerary symbolism in the art of the catacombs. Often set amongst rocks. It can also be an occupational symbol in sea-faring areas or the attribute of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of seamen, symbolized hope and steadfastness. An anchor with a broken chain stands for the cessation of life.
The agent of God, often pointing towards heaven; guardians of the dead, symbolizing spirituality. Angels are shown in all types of poses with different symbolism. Two angels can be named, and are identified by the objects they carry: Michael, who bears a sword and Gabriel, who is depicted with a horn.
Books remind us that tombstones are documents, bearing vital statistics and epitaphs concerning the deceased. Books may be open, possibly to signify that the stone is a kind of biography, or closed in recognition of the fact that the story of the dead is over. The book on a tombstone may be The Book or The Bible. This identification can be clinched by the presence of a citation (e.g. John 19:14) or an actual line of scripture. Arabic characters identify the book as the Koran.
The soul. It is symbolic of the resurrection of Christ. The meaning is derived from the three stages of the life of the butterfly-the caterpillar, the chrysalis, and the butterfly. The three stages are symbols of life, death and resurrection. Short-life.
Candles stand for the spirit or the soul. In Christian contexts, candles can symbolize Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. Catholics often leave candles on the grave to show that prayers have been said for the deceased.
Medieval thinkers sometimes held that a golden chain bound the soul to the body. Broken links on a headstone can mean the severance and subsequent release of the spirit from the body. Chains are also the insignia of the International Order of Odd Fellows, so called because of their dedication to giving the poor decent burials. This association can be clinched by the observation of the letters IOOF or FLT (Friendship, Love, Truth) either inside or near the chain.
The chalice often appears in association with a white circle representing the consecrated Eucharist. The two items combine to signify the Catholic rite of Holy Communion. The headstones of priests often bear these objects.
Christianity. Usually mounted on three steps, signifying 'faith, hope and charity'. The most potent symbol of the Christian faith, the cross has been used for religious and ornamental purposes since time immemorial. To the Aztecs it symbolized the god of rain, the Scandinavians set them up as boundary markers, and two buns marked with a cross were found at the ancient Egyptian site of Herculaneum.
Innocence of child, Jesus the Infant, youth, the Son of righteousness, gentleness, purity of thought.
Dogs often appear at the feet of medieval women, signifying the loyalty and inferior place of each in the chivalric order. Modern dogs only imply that the master was worth loving.
Christianity, divine sacrifice, triumph of eternal life, resurrection.
The little bird appears in both Christian (usually Catholic) and Jewish cemeteries, representing some of the same things and some different things in each. Catholics usually see the dove (which makes its first Biblical appearance in Genesis carrying an olive branch for Noah) as the Holy Spirit. Jews interpret the dove as a peace symbol. The biblical allusion to the dove also suggests a connectedness with the earth and its color, white, represents for Europeans, purity and spirituality.
For the Chinese, the dragon is an emblem of Imperial Power, which has brought the universe into its thrall. It also stands for the Universe itself, a chaotic force which none of us can truly master.
In the days when the body lay in state in the parlor, it was the custom to cover everything in black. Draperies, with their fancy frills and tassels, are more elaborate than a simple shroud. They allow the expression of mourning to linger long after the body has been taken out the front door and the accoutrements have been stowed for the next death in the family. Curtains can also set the stage. Parted, they reveal a telling excerpt. What is important in such displays is the main actor or central object of the stone.
Stylized hearts stand for the affection of the living for the dead. Two joined hearts on a stone mark a marriage.
People used to believe that holly bushes protected tombs and other monuments from lightning strikes.
Ivy springs up naturally to cover English tombs, but Americans who transplanted it to their graveyards decided that it meant friendship and, like most cemetery plants, also immortality.
Usually marks the grave of a child. The lamb always stands for innocence. Christians go a little further and associate it with the Lamb of God, meaning Jesus.
Chastity, innocence and purity. A favored funeral flower of the Victorians. Joseph is often depicted holding a lily branch to indicate that his wife Mary was a virgin. In tradition, the first lily sprang forth from the repentant tears of Eve as she went forth from Paradise. The use of lilies at funerals symbolizes the restored innocence of the soul at death.
Symbolizes the power of God and guards the tomb against evil spirits. Like other guardians, the lion's watch is as eternal as the stone of which it is depicted. The lion also recalls the courage and determination of the souls, which they guard; they manifest the spirit of the departed.
A large variety, called cempasuchitl, enjoys a special association with Mexico's Day of the Dead; mostly because of its availability in that season. Marigolds not only decorate the graves in the form of crosses and arches, but also form trails to lead the souls of the dead to a home altar set with their favorite foods, photos, and other pleasantries hard to obtain in the afterlife.
The marvelous ability of this parasite to sustain itself far above the ground lent to the Druidic belief that it was a sacred plant and an ingredient of immortality. The "golden bough" was used in animal sacrifices. The Norse God Balder lost his immortality when he was pierced by a mistletoe-tipped spear.
- Oak tree
Hospitality, stability, strength, honor, eternity, endurance, liberty. It is believed to have been the tree from which Jesus Christ's cross was made. In smaller pioneer cemeteries, it is common to place children's graves near oak trees. The oak tree was the tree of life in pre-Christian times. The Druids worshipped the oak. The oak, oak leaves and acorn can stand for power, authority or victory. Often seen on military tombs.
Spiritual victory, success, eternal peace, a symbol of Christ's victory of death as associated with Easter.
Love, beauty, hope, unfailing love, associated with the Virgin Mary, the "rose without thorns." A red rose symbolizes martyrdom and a white rose symbolizes purity and virginity. Whether the rose is a bud, flower or somewhere in between indicates how old the person was at the time of death: Just a bud - normally a child 12 or under Partial bloom - normally a teenager Full bloom - normally in early/mid twenties. The deceased died in the prime of life Rosebud, broken - life cut short, usually found with a young person's grave
- Sacred Heart of Jesus
An image unique to Catholics. The Sacred Heart is shown containing wounds to which Crist points and it is surrounded by a crown of thorns. The heart represents the suffering of Jesus for our sins. Prayers to the Sacred Heart are said to be efficacious for the release of souls from Purgatory.
A symbol of life and time. Both ends rolled up indicates a life that is unfolding like a scroll of uncertain length and the past and future hidden. Often held by a hand representing life being recorded by angels. Can also suggest honor and commemoration.
- Star of David
Six-pointed star or Star of David, also known as Magen David (Hebrew for shield of David), it is typically used as a symbol of Judaism. The star is actually made of two triangles. It signifies divine protection as epitomized by the alchemistic signs for fire and water, which are an upward and downward apexed triangle. The star is a very ancient symbol, used by several Asia Minor cultures, as well as some Greek city-states. For Judaism, the Star of David came into widespread use at the beginning of the 20th century. Theodore Hertzel, a Jewish activist, adopted the symbol in his writings promoting Palestine as a Jewish homeland.
Until the church banned such things, most people were buried at night. Torches furnished the light which both allowed the gravediggers to see and the bearers to scare off evil spirits and nocturnal scavengers. Lit, the torch signifies life -- even eternal life. Extinguished, it stands for death. It can also stand for living memory and eternal life (e.g. an eternal flame).
Wheat, like barley, was associated with the Egyptian cult of Osiris. The death of a grain crop is followed, after a period of stillness, by the re-sowing and germination of the seeds. Though no corpses have produced new people, tombstone carvers still employ the ear of wheat as a symbol of rebirth. Convent bakers use wheat flour to make communion wafers, making it a holy plant, of sorts, fit to grace the tombstone of a priest.
Porcelain Pictures for Headstones
History of Porcelain Pictures
Porcelain Pictures have been used since the mid-1800's to adorn monuments and headstones with a likeness of the person whom the tombstone is for. Over the years the processes of transferring an image to a porcelain tablet have been refined through pioneering techniques, which have resulted in absolutely magnificent replications of an original photograph. Many people now days are choosing to mount a tombstone ceramic picture on the headstone that marks the final resting place of their loved one. This allows for personalization of the headstone and a permanent remembrance of the departed loved one.
Construction and Available Shapes
Tombstone ceramic pictures are made from a porcelain or ceramic tablet in which color pigments have been baked at over 800°C. Colors will not fade in any weather conditions. Our line of tombstone ceramic pictures is available in color or black & white and they carry a lifetime guarantee against fading. They come in the traditional oval shape, a rectangular shape and they are now available in the heart shape. There is also a variety of open frames and locking cover frames to enhance the beauty of the portrait and protect it.
Applications for Porcelain Pictures
The applications for tombstone ceramic pictures are many. The most popular use is that of adorning the tombstone or grave memorial of a loved one. They can also be mounted it to a granite bench, flat granite or bronze headstone, and mausoleum or crypt front. Some people even use the smaller versions for mounting on the flat surface of certain cremation urns. Others have even used them to mount on an outside wall of a building. Whatever the application the ease of installation makes it possible to mount these beautiful tombstone ceramic pictures almost anywhere.
Installing Porcelain Pictures
Installing The Picture Please read carefully before attempting to install the picture. This step by step manuel was created for the installation of ceramic pictures. You may want to print this out for future reference.
Tip: It is highly recommended that the surface be polished granite or a smoothed bronze finish in order for a secure bond to occur. Also make sure the temperature is above 60°F and there is no moisture on the mounting surface.
First find the place on the monument or memorial where you would like to place the picture. In this case we have selected the space above the wife's name panel. Clean very well with a mixture of 50% water and 50% rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) and nothing else. The larger pictures and ones with frames come with a primer to apply to the stone prior to placing on the memorial. Place a piece of tape in the approximate center of where the picture will sit. Using a ruler make a mark where the center of the picture will reside.
Once you have your center point marked, proceed to measure the picture for the height and width dimensions. If you have a center finding ruler this will make the job much easier.
Using pieces tape, place the inside edges of them the same distance from the center as the outer edge of the picture is. Do this for the height and width of the picture.
Once you have the tape markings in place step away from the memorial and check to make sure the position looks proper. You may also want to place the picture (adhesive backing still intact) against the memorial and within the markings to make sure they are accurate. After you have determined everything is okay, remove the center piece of tape on the memorial and wipe clean with the water/alcohol solution. Proceed to peel the back (marked with the word "tape") of the picture to expose the adhesive backing.
Porcelain Pictures Then holding the picture securely in your hands place it within the tape markings without quite touching the memorial making sure you have it in position. After you have lined the picture within the marking, place it onto the memorial and press firmly against it for a few moments. Note: This is a permanent bond and cannot be removed once set, so make certain it is in the right position before applying it.
Porcelain Pictures After the picture has been set, remove the pieces of tape and clean any residue the tape may have left behind. If these instructions have been followed properly you should have no trouble with the installation. If there is any uncertainty of your abilities with regard to installation, you can always have a monument company or the cemetery install it for a nominal charge.
Installing a Marble Statue on a Cemetery Headstone
So, you want to purchase a marble statue for your loved one’s headstone, but cannot find anyone who will install it? Not to worry as this article will help guide you through the process.
Typically a marble statue is installed with a dowel hole drilled at the bottom of the statue and on top of the base which it will sit. A pin is then inserted in to help keep the statue in place before gluing the two. While this method is widely used it is not necessary especially if you cannot find someone to install it and drill the base for the pin.
Items You Will Need
If the base cannot be drilled, you can still install it for a permanent fit. Here is a list of some things you will need to achieve a proper installation of the marble statue.
- Epoxy – preferably knife grade that cleans up with water
- Putty knife or wooden tongue depressor
- Piece of cardboard
- Masking tape
- Carbide tip chisel
- Dry 2” or larger paint brush or canned air
- Single edge razor blades
- Paper towels
I would first recommend purchasing an epoxy adhesive from a hardware store such as Home Depot or Lowe's, or any local hardware store. Make sure the epoxy can bond natural stone and is a knife grade type with the consistency of mayonnaise or peanut butter. You will also want the epoxy to allow at least 30 minutes working time if not longer. A putty knife or tongue depressor will be needed as well as a piece of cardboard to mix the contents on.
Installing the Statue
If the granite surface has a polished finished, then do the following: Before actually gluing the marble statue to the granite base, set it in the desired position on the granite base. Then place strips of tape along the edges of the statue, marking the outline of the statue base.
After removing the statue, use a hammer and chisel (one with a carbide tip if possible) to roughen the area where the statue will set staying about 3/4' from the edges of the tape. This will allow the epoxy to grab on to the granite surface. If the granite already has a rough surface, then skip the roughing up part. After this is done, thoroughly clean the debris off the surface using a dry paint brush or canned air.
Keeping the tape in place, mix the epoxy and apply a layer to both the statue and granite base then set it into place. Make sure not to over apply the epoxy so that it seeps out from the bottom of the statue. Since this may happen, be sure to have paper towels handy to clean off any excess. Also most water based epoxies will clean up with soap and water.
VERY IMPORTANT: You will need to tape the statue into place until the adhesive sets up. Reason being is that if the granite base is even slightly unleveled this may cause the statue to slide out of position.
After the epoxy has completely set, you can then remove the tape. If there is any epoxy residue on the polished granite surface you can scrape it off with a single edge razor blade.