05 August 2011

Solutions for Hard to Read Headstones

     I spent the last two days on a genealogy trip, mainly visiting cemeteries. I knew that I was going to encounter a number of old, hard to read headstones. I solicited some advise online for solutions for reading these stones and received some great suggestions. Here are my results:

1. Tinfoil
    Tombstone rubbing and chalking are bad for the stones. However, an acceptable method is tinfoil "rubbing." This is where you place a piece of foil over the headstone and use a soft brush to create an impression.  Overall, this technique did work, but it was somewhat frustrating and not worth the effort. It was difficult to get a photo of the shiny foil and shiny side up seemed to create the best results. Here's a photo of John P Quattlebaum's headstone, which isn't impossible to read, but not much easier either:

     Now with foil:

     The technique does work, but the headstone's really not any easier to see, either in the photo or in person. At the same time, I didn't feel like rubbing with the foil and brush was really much better than rubbing with paper and crayons/charcoal.

2. Wetting
     Another suggestion was to wet the stone, which would give it a more even tone. This is the method that I found to work best. We took a spray bottle, as well as a gallon jug of water.  Take this stone for example, which is pretty much impossible to read:

     Now see it what it looks like when wet and from an angle:

     What a difference! Now you can see that this is a stone for Ben and Permelia Ouzts: Together They Dwell In Our Father's House

     Overall, I'd say that wetting the stone worked better. I'll be taking water with my whenever I go out to older cemeteries from now on. I'll probably leave the tinfoil at home.


Victoria said...

Thanks for the advice. I'll add a spray bottle of water to my "headstone hunting" bag.

Carol said...

Great follow up on the methods suggested. The photos really bring it home! Thanks.

Joan said...

oh, you Craft-y gal. Thanks for the tips, and the photos really helped. Spritzer bottle in my bag.


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