Making headstone rubbings is a great way to preserve a bit of history. Wax rubbings can reveal design elements and text not quite discernible through our vision alone. It’s also appropriate, on occasion, to maybe reflect quietly a bit on our own mortality, feel the earth beneath our feet, and say hello to those that have passed before us.
Personally, I do feel like this is a solo project, but I remember doing this a few times as a guided activity in elementary school (there was a cemetery immediately next door to our playing field). I actually recall quite a number of cemetery field trips. In retrospect, I suppose that’s just a little bit strange. I wonder if they do things like that anymore. Perhaps not. There was also a dilapidated wooden stage on our playground that we were allowed to play on and crawl under. I digress. My childhood was idyllic, really.
First things first, be respectful.
- Check to see if it’s okay for you to take a gravestone rubbing in your local cemetery, especially if the site is a historical one. Some older stones may be too fragile to stand up to the process. If you are uncertain about a particular stone, ask first.
- In “active” cemeteries, be considerate of any funerals taking place. It may be more appropriate to return to the site on another day.
- Pay attention to all posted signs and follow them. Do not trespass after hours. Don’t be a creep.
- large sheet(s) of paper
- masking tape or poster tack
- soft brush and/or rag
- wax discs or sturdy crayons (check out Oldstone wax)
- rubber bands or a poster tube to transport completed rubbings
You want paper that is flexible, but sturdy enough not to tear. Printmaking paper works well. Other guides (like this one from Ancestry Graphics and Printing) suggest using medium-weight interfacing, which I imagine works really well, too! Try whatever you like!
When choosing a stone, look for well defined patterns and text. Carefully clean the surface of your chosen stone. While removing surface dirt, twigs, etc. with a rag or brush is probably safe to do, removing moss and lichen from older stones could potentially damage the stone’s integrity. If you notice any decay, erosion, or breakage, do not attempt to clean the stone. Some people carry spray bottles of water. Use your best judgement, and always err on the side of caution. Don’t use any chemicals or soaps to clean the stone.
Lay your paper across the surface of the stone and gently secure it in place with masking tape or poster tack. Your paper should be large enough to tuck around the back of the stone, and secure it from there. You may want to cut the paper to size. Make sure that your adhesive will not damage the stone on removal. Avoid taping on crumbling spots and cracks.
Once your paper is secure, start your rubbing from the outside edges of the stone to the center. Use even pressure.
Carefully remove your rubbing from the stone and secure it for transport. Make sure you don’t leave any scraps of paper or bits of tape behind.
I know I’ve linked to it previously, but I absolutely love this great graphic guide to cemetery symbolism from Atlas Obscura!
Fellow Maine residents should check out the Maine Old Cemetery Association.
I was looking back on older GF posts and was surprised that I have yet to feature amethyst! It’s one of my personal favorites, and aside from opal (my birthstone), is the one crystal I’ve ever felt any true resonance with. While I have always enjoyed having rose quartz in my living space, amethyst serves more than an aesthetic purpose, at least when it comes down to my own experience. Gemstone healing is an incredibly personal process, and I think a large part of it comes simply from personal affirmation and association. Our senses, and how they connect to our own experiences and memory, play such an important role in any healing process.
Amethyst is a fairly common form of quartz crystal, and is a popular stone in healing and meditation practice. It pairs well with clear quartz. This stone is said to have the power to purify, protect, and heal, and has also been known to help with lucid dreaming and dream recall. For me, amethyst helps with anxiety, and opens my mind to creative practice. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that I can no longer make art when feeling angry or panicked. While painting and drawing used to be my main (and often only) outlet for these kinds of negative feelings, I now need to feel mostly at peace for anything to flow through my fingers. Art is now the result of positive emotional change, rather than the cause of that change. It took me some time to realize that this had changed for me, and the process was a frustrating one. I am still getting used to it. My brain is far too often tied up in other things, but when I focus and find balance, paint and paste meet paper. It may simply be a matter of providing myself with structured time for both meditation and art making.
Amethyst is commonly used to/ ease anxiety, and provide balance and serenity
cope with grief and loss
aid in dream recall
astrological sign/ Aquarius, Capricorn, Pisces, Virgo | chakra/ third eye, crown
for aromatherapy and meditation, pair with / to help ease anxiety: lavender, clary sage, or citrus oils
for vivid dreams or lucid dreaming: rose, clove, helichrysum, or sandalwood
I look at crystal therapy the same way I look at color therapy or aromatherapy: if you believe it works, then it works, for you. It’s all mostly pseudo-science-spiritualism. I make use of certain elements and apply them to practices that result in a personal truth. I’m a visual and tactile person, which is why I also paint and do collage work. I generally benefit from holding a particular stone in my palm and actively focusing my energy and feelings on to it. The type of stone depends on what sort of energy I want to focus and store. I only use crystal “meditation” for my current mental and emotional problems, not physical ones. I am fairly certain that a pretty stone isn’t going to soothe my menstrual cramps, no matter how hard I focus. This works best for me in the moment, but a preemptive strike proves helpful on occasion, as well.
I am a much more positive person that I was a few years ago, but I still often feel hostile (towards myself), bitter, anxious, and depressed. I’ve come up with a few mechanisms to deal with these feelings, and having a physical object with an associated “mantra” has proven really helpful for me. I am thankful that I more often feel content than not.
These are my favorite stones for this sort of energy focus. I honestly believe you could use any physical object to concentrate on, so long as you’re consistent, but these stones are traditionally believed to hold the following qualities :
- citrine: warming, energizing, raises self-confidence, promotes moving forward, inspires creativity, promotes inner calm
- rose quartz: calming, reassuring, purifies and opens heart, promotes inner healing and self-love, enhances positive affirmations
- tiger’s eye: grounding, assists in accomplishing goals, alleviates depression, heals issues of self-worth and self-critisism
It helps that I am drawn to these aesthetically, as well. They’re all lovely, and I have some really beautiful specimens in my own collection. My citrine stone is a bit small for my hand, however, so I would like to replace it. I have had that particular Tiger’s Eye piece since I was a child, so it has power for me in that sense, as well.
I picked up a Healing Crystals deck (at Goodwill!), where each card features a crystal with a list of three qualities and a corresponding phrase, as well as the stone’s physical attributes. The particular deck I have is currently on sale. These are helpful, but some are just a little over the top for me, so I put the general ideas into my own words. A deck is a good place to start if you’re having a difficult time coming up with a focus phrase. Ideally, your phrases will be positive affirmations (“I will” versus “I will not”).
- citrine: “I have an inner light that cannot be extinguished.”
- rose quartz: “There is a universal love energy that flows through me.”
- tiger’s eye: “I am open to the life lessons that the world has to offer me.”
The human mind is an incredible thing, so is the human spirit. I say that all the time, but it’s the truth. I often find myself in awe of us. We attach meaning and energy to objects without even intending to: a childhood stuffed animal, a favorite sweater, a “lucky” penny, a favorite meal. The stuffed bear you’ve had since you were tiny doesn’t mean a thing to someone who isn’t you. The healing properties of garlic & cheese mashed potatoes are not globally recognized. Rituals are the same way. Some people pray, or meditate, or go to church. I practice deep breathing, and dip my toes in the ocean whenever I get a chance. We’re all different. I find that fairly easy to accept. We all get through the best way we know how.
Of course, if things really were that simple, we wouldn’t have as much hatred floating around the world as we do. Sometimes I feel incredibly angry and frustrated. I can’t understand why the world doesn’t work the way I think it should. I am frustrated with greed and ignorance, selfishness and bigotry. Honestly, I just want everyone to say genuinely nice things to each other. I don’t care what you believe, but accept that other people don’t believe it. Treat them kindly, despite (or because of) this.
Sometimes, also, I am a cynic, but being cynical doesn’t mean I’m forever negative. I have hope. Not Obama-type hope, but Sagan-hope, or Roddenberry-hope. A hopeful cynic? I am also an atheist, so I have no higher power to depend on. I find comfort in the here and now, and endeavor to change what I am unhappy with. This one chance is (probably) all I have.
I am complicated. I am a human. So are you. Recognize it. Be in awe of it.
I thought a daily sketch might be a nice way to get myself back into making art. My Sketchbook Project book really helped, but I didn’t do a whole lot of drawing in that one. Today I dusted off my colored pencils and roughed out a few mushrooms. Nature sketching has always been enjoyable for me. I sketched from a book rather than from actual specimens, but the process was still incredibly relaxing.
The book? A 1982 edition of Reader’s Digest North American Wildlife. It’s been my favorite reference book since I was first able to climb up on the back of the couch and reach the bookshelves back home. It definitely has a few crayon marks on some pages. Sorry about that, Dad.
I drew these hunched over on my bed with a table lamp behind me. Uh. My apartment is not an ideal environment for creativity. I am much better off at Timothy’s house, where there is glorious lighting, beautiful flat surfaces, and hardwood floors. Someday. I have hopes for a little studio corner in his upstairs spare bedroom, where the sun shines all day.
I used this paper because I had intended to work some watercolor in, but I decided against it in the end. There’s really no point in overworking just a few quick scribbles, and I knew that I would start to get frustrated. Actually, to be 100% honest, by the time I was halfway through that purple mushroom, I was almost burned out. This was only about twenty minutes worth of work, if that. The whole point of this exercise is to relax. Making art used to make me so happy. This is for me.
That purple mushroom is the worst. The worst.
Thanks for stopping by. My name is Naomi, and this space is made of girldust. This blog is a picture of my comfortably scattered life on the coast of Maine. I'm trying to be a slightly better version of myself every day. I like old houses, reading, the ocean, ghost stories, and museums. You can learn a little bit more about me here. Follow along elsewhere, or get in touch: