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.
Consider this a wishful to do list of smaller projects for when I move into Timothy’s house. We are going to have a whole lot of condensing and organizing to do , but I think the two of us working together will make for a very happy home. It may sound just a little cheesy, but I can’t think of a better person to take things apart and put them back together with. Nor can I think of anything cozier than making more of the things we use daily. I’m looking forward to having the space to do it in.
I figured it would be safe to reveal what I’m giving my lady pals for Mother’s Day, as none of them read this blog (probably)!
Some background before the reveal: I am a… secret spiritualist? I don’t know. That sounds lame. I keep it to myself, mostly, so it’s kind of strange to put that out there. Atheist, definitely. I believe in freewill. I believe in science. I know old energy exists all around us, and I know life is simply amazing. I totally believe in ghosts (that’s another entry altogether), but I don’t believe in higher power. I believe that ritual is necessary, comforting, whatever that ritual may entail. A ritual may or may not result in something real or tangible, but what is real is different for everyone.
I love. I exist. I am made of stuff that is ancient.
So now that you know a bit about where I’m coming from…
I thought it would be nice to put together a tiny gemstone “care” package, something full of positive energy, for the deserving mothers in my life.
I chose these specific gemstones after doing a bit of research. What I have listed here are the powers that are commonly associated with these specific gemstones; I wanted to choose a combination that was healing, restorative, and balancing for these insanely hard-working women. I really do think, though, that any power can be applied to any object, and that this kind of energy association can work for just about anyone. I find these common associations a great starting point, and I rather like the idea of a focused, community energy.
Moonstone: symbol of femininity, soothes emotions, aids with stress
Picture Jasper: “Mother Earth” stone, grounding/harmonizing, absorbs negative energy
Rose Quartz: unconditional love and peace, restores trust/harmony
Amazonite: soothing, calms mind and nervous system, balances masculine and feminine energy
Sodalite: peace, healing, wisdom, dispels fear/guilt, stimulates trust
I knew that I had to include moon stone and rose quartz, and the others came up as I was searching certain characteristics. Aesthetically speaking, this ended up being a really lovely mix of stones.
** I have one extra set of these (with a handwritten and painted card) to give away. Leave a comment before 12:01am Tuesday, May 14th if you’re interested. I’ll randomly choose a winner on Tuesday. US only, please, and be sure to leave an e-mail so I can get in touch with you if you win! You can also tweet a link to this post for an extra entry. Please leave a separate comment with a link to your tweet if you choose to do so! ♥
++ I bought all my gemstones from Green Earth Stones on etsy.
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: