I’ve been reading some talk about how some artists look at gravestone rubbing as morbid both in terms of “morbid curiosity” and the fact that these stones should be left alone. While others look at this practice as a way of preserving history, creating unique art or finding some beauty in the carvings around the text. This “small debate” sparked my curiosity and I wanted to learn more.
Here are some sites I found teaching beginners the art of gravestone rubbing:
1: Gravestone studies, Gravestone Rubbing for Beginners
2: tombstone rubbings
3: How to Make Historical Gravestone Rubbings – Associated Content
4: How to do Gravestone Rubbings
5: Morbid Outlook – How to do Gravestone Rubbings
Do you prefer book resources? Here are some titles to check out:
1: The Old Stone Rubbing Kit: Preserving Epitaphs and Artwork from Historical Gravestones & Monuments by Paulette Chernack, Cassandra Davidson, and Jacqueline Sach (Unknown Binding – Oct 1, 2007)
2: Making Paper & Fabric Rubbings: Capturing Designs from Brasses, Gravestones, Carved Doors, Coins & More by Cecily Barth Firestein (Paperback – Jun 30, 2001)
3: Creating Your Family Heritage Scrapbook: From Ancestors to Grandchildren, Your Complete Resource and Idea Book for Creating a Treasured Heirloom by Maria Nerius, Bill Gardner, and Maria Given Nerius (Paperback – Jul 3, 2001)
4: In Search of Gravestones: Old and Curious by W. T. Vincent (Paperback – Jan 2003)
5: Grave History: A Guidebook to Citizens’ Cemetery, Prescott, Arizona by Terrance L. Stone (Paperback – May 12, 2006)
What is the definition of gravestone rubbing?
Gravestone rubbing is the practice of creating a rubbing by depositing a rendering material such as charcoal, wax or graphite on paper placed over the engraved surface of a gravestone in order to obtain an image of the stone’s lettering and designs. It is often used as a method of retrieving information about genealogy.
For a genealogist a gravestone rubbing may become a permanent record of death where the gravestone is rapidly deteriorating. For an artist gravestone rubbings can become an entire body of creative work that is framed and displayed.
The practice of gravestone rubbing can cause permanent damage to stones due to abrasion.
What do you need for supplies? Basic kits are available in numerous places on line and off. Here’s what I found on line:
1: Gravestone Rubbing Kit
2: Oldstone Wax Gravestone Rubbing 10-piece Kit
3: Pagan & Wiccan Supplies – Yule Gift Sets
4: TTIW : Hada Verde : Tag : Craft Supplies
5: Wiccan Pagan Supplies – Wiccan & Pagan Posters
While I’ve never tried this form of art before, it’s always been something I’d like to attempt on an Artists Date. I’ve enjoyed picnics and nature collecting in grave yards in the past, but I’ve always been hesitant about doing a rubbing. After viewing the beautiful carvings on some of the more historic stones, it occurred to me that these rubbings could be more than just a stand alone art piece. I thought about using the rubbings for:
1: picture frame mats
2: photocopying them on different art papers for collage work
3: coloring photocopies to in for ATC work
4: photocopying them and affixing them to a canvas to use as part of an assemblage painting
5: greeting card work
There are a lot of other ideas floating around in my mind, so as you can see, there’s a lot of creative opportunity for these rubbings beyond that of preserving history. When the weather clears, I plan on getting my supplies together and giving this a try. I may also photograph parts of the stones, as well, to add extra opportunities for creative work. We’ll see what happens!