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How to Make Gravestone Rubbings

Updated on July 26, 2019
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Robert is an author, artist, graphic designer, and photographer. He has been experimenting with building electronics.

There is Something About Rubbing

I don't know what it is about the Hobby of Gravestone Rubbing. Maybe it is being in a cemetery that brings a since of excitement, or maybe it is taking down a little piece of history, hopefully your family's history. Maybe it is just getting outside and doing something other than sitting in front of the computer or the television and not doing anything.

Whatever the case may be, I thought I would take a moment to tell you how to make your own gravestone rubbings. Let me know if I left anything out. Make sure you tell me about your Rubbing experiences in the space below.

How to Make a Gravestone Rubbing - My Steps for Making a Grave Stone Rubbing

  1. Obtain permission from the people who own or take care of the land. There my be rules that you don't know about. You want to repect the land you are visiting. Please don't make gravestone rubbings without asking for permission first.
  2. Clean the stone you are going to be making the rubbing of. Not only will it make the rubbing come out better, but you will make it easier for future visitors to read the stone and enjoy the cemetery.
  3. Tape your newsprint or tracing paper to the stone with masking tape. Make sure the tape will be removable. We don't want to leave behind any residue If we can help it. I have used that painters tape in the past. It works pretty well.
  4. I like to use the side of a piece of charcoal to make my rubbing, but you can use a pencil or crayon or anything you might have.
  5. When you are done making your rubbing, make sure you clean up everything and take it all with you. If you see any trash in your vicinity, pick it up. Leave the cemetery cleaner than where you found it. It is the least you can do for taking a rubbing of the stone.

The Old Stone Rubbing Kit - Preserving Epitaphs and Artwork from Gravestones & Monuments

This is an awesome book. It has all the supplies you need to make your first few rubbings. If you think this is something you might be able to get into, you should think about picking up this book. It gives you all the do's and don'ts of rubbing old gravestones and monuments. It even tells you where you can go to get your collection started.

HowCast's Guide to Gravestone Rubbing - Simple and Enjoyable Hobby

I thought this was a great how to guide to Making your first gravestone rubbing. I think most people would not realize that cemeteries have rules about making rubbings. Some don't let you do it all. Some tell you which stones not to make them of because stones may be damages or too old to withstand too many rubbings. If you do go out to make rubbings, make sure you take the time to stop and ask for permission. I would hate to see you in jail because you did something that was against the rules.

Why Do I Make Gravestone Rubbings?

I enjoy learning about my family history. I like going to cemeteries and visiting the grave sites of my ancestors. I have found the older the grave, the more worn away the information on the marker is. I want to record this information the best I know how, so it will stand the test of time, by recording it digitally both with a photograph and a rubbing.

"Isn't a photograph enough?" In some cases it is. Sometimes the discoloration on the stone and the amount of material that has been worn away will not show very well on a photograph. If you make a rubbing, you will see what is left of that inscription. Many times you will be able to read the rubbing when you could not read the stone because the carving is so shallow.

I keep all the information in a folder for each cemetery I visit. Sometimes I have to make more than one folder because there are so many people from my family tree buried there. I take the time to scan everything, organize it digitally and keep information at another family member's home so If I have a house fire or a tornado carries my life away, the information will still be safe.


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