Friday, December 7, 2012

Murder, Faith and Dreams.

Ask anyone who knew Dustin Chamberlain and they will tell you he was a shining star. Bright, polite, caring and kind, athletic, charismatic, goal oriented and a follower of Christ. Dustin was grounded in his faith and knew that he was being called to serve others through medical missions. But no one could have ever imagined the manner in which he would truly be called- not even Dustin.
In December of 2011 Dustin completed the first semester of his Sophomore year at Baylor University. Attending Baylor was a dream come true for Dustin and he savored most every moment of it. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to work toward his life-long dream of becoming a doctor and jumped into the Pre-Med/Biology program feet first! As a Pre-Med student he was active in several medical service organizations and The Bear Pit, a crazy-fun Baylor Bears Basketball spirit organization and tradition. He loved being involved, loved the group of friends that he had made and loved being a student at Baylor.

When Dustin came home to Arkansas for a much-anticipated Christmas break, he was excited about spending time with his family, visiting with his parents about a medical mission trip, looking at potential medical school programs and taking a short break from hitting the books. But before he could do any of that he had to have a minor outpatient procedure performed- after that, he could relax and enjoy.

On the morning of December 15, 2011, Dustin was recovering from his outpatient procedure at home in Northwest Arkansas. Although his parents offered to stay home from work and nurse him back to health, he insisted that he was fine and didn't feel as though he needed assistance. His parents agreed that he would be okay without them and his father made plans to come have lunch with him later in the day. 

But after his parents backed out of the driveway, watched the garage door shut and drove off to work, their worst nightmare began to unfold.

Lurking in the shadows behind the garage was a stranger, a local man, who had been reported as depressed, suicidal and missing. He stood out there for about two hours, waiting for the family to leave for the day- waiting for the opportunity to enter their home. 
But the stranger wasn't quiet about making an entrance, in fact, he is believed to have caused quiet a commotion, which Dustin heard from inside the home.

Home invasions aren't common in the small town of Siloam Springs. In fact, the possibility of a home invasion was probably the last scenario on Dustin's mind. The family dog often got into the garage and made noise, and is, more than likely, what Dustin thought was going on.

But when Dustin made it to the door, he came face to face with an intruder. Neither man expected to run into one another in that doorway that morning. The surprised intruder was armed and fatally shot Dustin 4 times. He then proceeded to pilfer through the house until he finally sat down in a chair in the family room and shot himself.

Dustin's parents loved having him home for Christmas and his mother called him throughout the morning to check on him- but received no answer. Her initial thought was that he was sleeping and recovering from his procedure, but became concerned and asked his father to run to the house and check him. Little did he know at that time, that Dustin had truly gone Home for Christmas.

When I first met the Chamberlains they knew one thing about how they wanted Dustin to be remembered. They wanted their son, the sweet auburn-haired boy who had a tender heart and genuine spirit, to be remembered as a man of God, who sought to live his life for Him. They referenced a statement Dustin often made when asked why he pushed himself so hard or worried about making the right decisions and that was, "Because I love God and don't want to give him less than my best." He also had a verse he loved- Hebrews 12:1-2, that the family wanted to incorporate along with his photo, a vase and the Baylor University Logo.

Dustin never could have imagined the manner in which he was called to serve, but his parents, family and friends now know that Dustin was called in a unique and special way. He was called to serve with his memory in a way that will continue to touch countless people around the world through The Dustin Chamberlain Memorial Foundation, also known as Dustin's Dream.

Dustin's Dream is very much alive today and has recently partnered with the John Brown University Mission Team to construct a medical clinic in Guatemala City. In 2013 the two organizations will host events and fundraisers to help raise the $50,000 that is needed to erect the medical clinic that will serve those in need of treatment.

The first fundraising event they are hosting is Dustin's Heavenly Birthday party, to celebrate Dustin's life and dreams. It will be held on Saturday, December 15, 2012 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm in the Lowe's parking lot in Siloam Springs. Doorprizes will be given away every 30 minutes and balloons will be released at 1:00.  Lunch and birthday cupcakes will be served, with all proceeds going to support Dustin's Dream.

For those wishing to donate to Dustin's Dream but unable to attend, you may click here to email the Foundation.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Foliage...Foliage...And More Foliage!

The spring and fall colors found in our Northwest Arkansas cemeteries are some of our favorite! And, since we are in the middle of our fall season, I wanted to share some fall photos with you and also invite you to share your own fall cemetery photos in our Cemeteries in the Fall Photo Contest. This contest is found on our Facebook page and is beginning to pick up momentum!

To participate simply like our website page, go to "Photo Contest" and then upload and invite your friends to vote.

A couple of years ago I purchased my first "nice" camera for the purpose of taking photos of monuments that we had made in the cemetery.

As I practiced and became better at photography, I discovered that I have a passion for not only capturing memorials, but also for capturing memorials that are surrounded by beautiful fall colors.

I wanted to share some of those photos with you. Please note all of these photos are the property of Emerson Monument Co. and may not be used without prior permission for any purpose.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Creating Timeless Memorials

One of the things I enjoy most about my job is the opportunity to really get to know the families I work with and help them create beautiful memorials for their loved ones. That is also the hardest part of my job, as it is tough to watch families hurt and try to cope with the pain they are feeling. However, it is always an honor to know that they have chosen to trust both myself and my team here at Emerson to create their loved one's memorial.

When families come into our store they often come in with an idea of what they would like the memorial to look like. Sometimes the idea is something they thought up that represents a hobby, belief, or life long mission. Other times the family might bring in photos of something they have seen out in the cemetery that they would also like to have for their loved one.

I recently worked with a sweet family that came to me with an idea for a memorial for their beautiful daughter. They brought in this photo (below) and asked if we could do something similar.

There were several things the family liked about this monument. They loved the shape with the detailing on the top and bottom sides. They also loved the raised carving (you can see the carving just above her name appears to "pop out" from the granite) and the two bases that it sits on.

As I began to visit with the family about their ideas I came to learn that they wanted the design to be soft and feminine yet classic. We decided that a raised, shape carved rose in place of the hand would be stunning, along with a raised, shape carved ivy border up top.

The family also told me that the monument would be going in an older section of the cemetery and that the surrounding monuments looked like this (below).

Isn't that beautiful?! Those old monuments are stunning and timeless, two elements that the family wished to accomplish with their daughter's memorial. Keeping the surrounding monuments in mind, we suggested that the monument be "steeled". A steeled monument is a monument that has had the shiny polish removed to create a classic look.

Once we worked with the family and they approved of the shape, size and design, we began working on the monument. I have added photos of the process below.

We sandblast the monument

We carefully place a specil stencil on the monument.
We shape carve the monument by hand
Completed monument in the cemetery

This stunning memorial is a beautiful reminder of sweet Cara's life and the legacy that she left to her family, friends and to others whose lives she may not have even realized she touched.

If you are interested in creating a memorial for yourself on a pre-need basis or for a loved one, please contact Emerson Monument Co. and we will help guide you through the process.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What Are Those Tree Stumps?!

Walk into just about any older cemetery around the US and you will likely stumble across a memorial that looks something like this.
 Monuments that appear as old tree stumps dot cemetery landscapes and often go unnoticed by many. And those who do happen to notice their unique shape and fraternal emblem do not always understand what they represent or why they are there. I, myself, was included in the group of folks who had a limited understanding of the stump-shaped memorials, and sought information on them that I would like to share.

As you can read on the emblem, these monuments are recognizing members of Woodmen of the World. It is a fraternal organization started in 1883, that offered life insurance benefits.
The Woodmen of the World (WOW) has maintained a system of lodges in which members meet and organize various activities.
Part of the membership creed supported the concept of a right to the dignity of a marked grave. Policy holders could elect to have a monument built with the Woodmen of the World incorporated on it and erected on his grave and have the cost covered by a rider from the insurance policy.

The memorials would typically be dedicated on or around Memorial Day in a formal ceremony arranged by the local chapter. My research shows that the ceremonies would be "moving", which means that the attendees would walk from one WOW member's grave to the next, dedicating each memorial by singing hymns and laying flowers at the grave site.
 As you look through the photos that I have posted, you will notice that the emblems, although they appear similar, are often not identical. The reason for this is unclear. Based on my research I am unable to determine if it is due to the fact that the monument builder of choice made the monument and thus interpreted the emblem differently, or if it is because various symbols contained within the emblem applied only to specific members. Whatever the case may be, the emblem does contain some very unique symbols. The symbols often include a sawed off tree stump with what appear to be crossed axes, ivy leaves of some sort and a dove. You may also notice the following words: "DUM TACET CLAMAT" , or "Though silent, he speaks".

It is difficult to find any information regarding the meaning of the symbols that are included in the emblem and I was unable to discover any information on them. What I was able to discover, however, is that the Modern Woodmen of America, a fraternal group that broke away from the Woodmen of the World around 1890, is that the founder, by the last name of Root, was intrigued when he learned of "pioneer woodsmen clearing away the forest to provide for their families". He developed his new group with the idea of "clearing away problems of financial security for its members". With that being said, one may assume the following symbolic meanings:
  • The dove is an international symbol of peace.
  • The roots on the tree might represent a strong family foundation.
  • The tree is sawn off to represent leadership within the family to "clear the way"
  • The axes represent strength
Of course the aforementioned is just my guess at the symbolic meaning and is not stated with certainty.

I hope this information was interesting to you and provided some insight about these unique tree stump memorials!  To get more information about creating a memorial for yourself or a loved one check out our website or drop by the store and visit with us. We have a whole library of emblems, symbols and designs to choose from and are also gifted at helping families create memorials that are interesting and unique.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

But I Found it Cheaper Online!

A few months ago my husband and I began planning our first family vacation to Disney World.
NOW, if you have ever planned the proverbial trip to Disney World, then you are aware of the expense involved. From getting there to lodging, to dining, park admission and entertainment...the trip ain't cheap! So we decided we would save money where we could, including the air fare to get there.

Rather than book airline tickets through our normal airline carrier we decided to book through a new-to-our-area discount airliner. The flight is direct and was supposed to be inexpensive. Or so we thought.

You see, the airline carrier advertised $75 one-way tickets to Orlando. What a bargain, right??!!
But then they charged us for checked luggage (if you are going to be at Disney World for a week with kids then you are going to have to check some luggage), carry on items (If you have flown with small children then you KNOW you must have something on board to keep them happy and quiet), and they even charged for our seats on the coach class. Once they added on all of the taxes and fees our airline tickets cost just as much through the "discount provider" as they would have had we purchased them through our normal carrier. And you don't get frequent flier miles as a thank you, either.

You see, online "discount" monument providers are a lot like that discount airliner I wrote about. I recently stumbled accross an online "discount" monument provider who was advertising granite markers for $199 with free shipping. That sounds pretty good, right? Especially considering that the same marker in our store cost $395.

BUT, when I started reading about the product I started noticing that they had pulled the old "advertise low, upgrade 'em high" trick.

You see, what they have done is market a product for $199 that looks okay and, by all means, "gets the job done". However, the price only includes certain things. For instance, the name. They had advertised that the engraving is inlcuded in their price but only for a name (first and last) and two dates (years only). If you would like a middle name, middle initial or suffix, that will be additional. If you want the actual month and date and year of your loved one's lifetime, that is additional too. And, if you would like a graphic or an epitaph, that will be extra as well.

Another issue arises, which is installation. Sure, you can haul the marker to the cemetery, buy some supplies and place the marker yourself. But the marker is going to be heavy (100+ pounds depending on size!) and you will need the necessary tools and supplies to do the job right. Or, you can hire a company to do it for you.

The last issue that arises is that of maintenance. You see, the Earth is constantly moving, thus causing the ground to settle and making the marker subject to shifting along with it. Our price always include a guarantee on the way the monument was placed in the cemetery and we are always glad to go out and raise and/or straighten the monument if sinking or shifting occurs.

So, by the time you add in the extras that the online discount provider tacks on, and the time and materials it takes to set the marker, and the future expense of having someone fix it if and when it settles, you would have spent far less by purchasing the marker at Emerson Monument Co, your local monument manufacturer and dealer.

At Emerson Monument Company our price is always clear. We let you know up front what is included and never cut corners on quality. If you have any questions about the process of purchasing a memorial or need help getting started, please contact us and we will be glad to help!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ancient Roman Cremation and Burial Traditions- Post 2

Perhaps one of the most intriguing themes that I noticed while I was in Rome was the precision with which the ancient Romans engraved their buildings and memorials. They were true keepers of history, which is evidenced by the ruins that remain to tell their story.

During our stay in Rome we ran accross some ancient ruins near what is called the Jewish Ghetto. We had originally visited the Jewish Ghetto to learn more about what Jewish life in Rome was like spanning from the 16th century through World War II. But what we found along our way was absolutely stunning.

While walking toward the Jewish Ghetto we ran accross these ancient ruins on the Via del Portico d'Ottavia. The ruins were stunning not only because of their age but because of their stone work as well.

A view of the street surrounded by ruins
These beautiful columns (above and below) were constructed entirely of marble during the reign of Augustus. It amazes me to think of the effort the ancient Romans went to to import the granite (the marble quarries at Carrera had not yet been discovered) and then to beautifully engrave them.

While this photo was taken as close to the columns as I could get, if you look closely you will notice they are fluted, or have "engraved lines" going down them.
The first thing that amazes me is the manpower that was required to import their marble from Egypt, Asia Minor or Greece. When it was quarried the marble would come in large blocks that would then be transported thousands of miles with the assistance of a pulley system and LOTS of manpower. They say over 6,000 slaves built the Colosseum (also made of marble, concrete, brick and travertine), so one may assume that they used slaves in the importation process as well.

Once they received the blocks in Rome they would have to begin cutting and shaping it to the desired shape and size and then begin doing the artwork. Of course now-a-days we utilize computer aided design (CAD) programs, plotters, stencil, automatic sandblasters, blow torches, and other wonderful tools to assist us in making a memorial beautiful. However, the ancient Romans were not privy to such tools. Instead they had a chisel, a hammer, amazing talent and a steady hand. If you look to the top of the colums you will notice intricate detailing and I am certain we would see some inscriptions on the cap. I was unable to find much about this structure online or elsewhere, but am still amazed by the craftsmanship they were capable of achieving during this time period.

An example of ancient Roman inscriptions- all hand cut
 The picture above is some inscription that I literally found on a rock on the side of this ancient road. These handcut letters are absolutely stunning! Of course we can still make hand cut letters that are equally beautiful today by utilizing some of the exact same time-honored techniques, and still do on many occasions.

The techniques the ancient Romans utilized were extremely time consuming and they realized the beauty and importance of their talents despite the burdens of time and precision. These same techniques were utilized not only for the public and civic buildings and memorials that adorn the city, but for private memorials and cemetery memorials as well.

At Emerson Monument Co. we strive to be experts in all areas of our field, including the history of our trade, to help us maintain a combination of creativity and skills that are second to none. If you would like to start designing a memorial for yourself or a loved one, please visit our website or drop by the store to visit.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ancient Roman Cremation and Memorialization- Post 1

History is fascinating, isn't it? And, thanks to memorials that have stood the test of time, we can trace history with more ease than we would have been able to without them. That's why I love the work that I do, and also why I love to study burial, cremation and memorialization histories everywhere I go.

I recently took a girls' trip to Italy, where I was able to briefly study the history of ancient Roman burial and cremation traditions. Both practices, which are still in tact today, have an interesting history that I wanted to share with my readers.

While I was in Italy we took an afternoon trip to an ancient Roman city called Ostia Antica. Just a short train ride from Rome, Ostia Antica was once a thriving harbor city located on the Tiber River that received and stored goods that supplied ancient Rome. This city was believed to have been founded in 620 BC (how cool is that?!) by the fourth king of Rome, Ancus Marcius.

When you enter the Ostia Antica historical site you enter via a cobblestone road on what was then the outskirts of town. As I walked West on the road toward the center of the ruined city a building with sun rise mosaics caught my eye.

This building was particularly interesting to me because it featured mixed mediums (travertine tile and brick) and the sun designs still held some color- you can see the faint yellow and red that has been dyed into the tile. I never learned what the importance of the sun seen on this building was, one can assume that it had something to do with the pagan religions that were practiced at the time. Considering that this building was, more than likely, built in BC times, I thought the craftsmanship to be absolutely amazing. BUT...what was on the back side of this building was even MORE amazing.

As I rounded the back of this building I stumbled upon another cobble stone road with this modern day sign.

Of course you can guess what this street was- it was the road leading to the tombs! And what I saw and learned just past the little street sign was worth the price of my train ticket to get there! Can you guess what the little "cut outs" seen below are?

After a little research I discovered that the little rounded cut outs were actually cremation niches. This discovery told me two interesting things:

1. the practice of cremation was alive in BC times (something that we already knew from the ancient Egyptians but was interesting to see that the ancient Romans utilized the practice as well) and
2. cremation walls, although structured a little differently today, were utilized by ancient Romans in a beautiful way

So the ancient Romans would cremate their loved ones in BC times and very early AD times and then fill cremation urns with their loved ones' ashes- just as we do today. I actually found a few ancient cremation urns in one of the Vatican Museums and have post a picture of them so you can see how stunning they truly were, especially considering the tools that would have been available during that time period.

Urns like the ones you see above would have been placed in the cremation niches, which were housed in the niche walls along Via Delle Tombe. Of course the building would have hosted a roof, which is believed to have been lost due to a combination of mud, flooding and time.

Ancient Romans were very skilled at engraving and had to ability to engrave their urns, like the one below.

As I continued to walk about Via Delle Tombe I began to notice the number of niche walls that lined the road, supporting the theory that cremation was a very common practice in BC and early AD times.
The interesting thing to note is that cremation practices practically came to a halt with the spread of Christianity. Why? Because of the belief that those who have been buried will rise up to the East to meet the Lord on his second coming. Individuals could not rise up to meet the Lord if there was no body left, so the ancient Romans shifted from cremation to inhumation (i.e. burial).

The ancient Roman inhumation/burial practices are fascinating, as are the methods by which they chose to memorialize their loved ones. I will be posting about that soon, so stay tuned!
In the mean time, I hope you found this post to be just as interesting as I did and hope you have gained some knowledge that you may not have had.

At Emerson Monument Company we strive to be experts in all aspects of our field, including the historical aspect. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you preserve the legacy of a loved one or your family, please contact us and we will help you get started.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Designing a Memorial

When I sit down with families to visit about their memorial they often say the same thing, "I have absolutely no idea what I want the monument to look like".

If you could easily find yourself uttering that very same thing, then this blog post is especially for you.

Each year I work with countless families who know that they want to place a memorial in the cemetery and often they even know what color they want. However, when it comes to the actual design, they could use some guidance.

Stock Designs for Sandblasting
At Emerson Monument Co. we have an entire library of designs that families commonly use. These designs are organized by the size of the monument and range from the very simple to the extremely elaborate. Sometimes families will select the entire design and other times the families will use the design as an "inspiration" and build on it.

We also have an entire library of components that are commonly used on monuments. Components are single images, such as an emblem, that represents a career, hobby, event, honor, etc.

Designs for Laser Etching
For those who choose to go the laser etching route, things work a little differently.
Typically when a family would like to do some laser etching I will sit down with them and go over their ideas and show them pictures of similarly etched memorials. We will then gather all necessary artwork from them and go from there.

At Emerson Monument Company we will not start making your monument until you have signed off on a rendering of the memorial. While the renderings are in black and white, they are to-scale and a great way to "see" the monument before it is complete. It is also an opportunity to allow both you and your family to make any necessary changes.

I hope you have found this information to be helpful. If you would like to start designing a memorial, please contact us via email and we will be glad to help.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Engraving- What Makes it Different.

Did you know there are several different methods that are currently used to engrave monuments? And while there isn't truly a right or wrong way of engraving a memorial, each monument company typically utilizes a technique that is unique to their organization and, thus, distinguishes their work from anyone elses.

Single Processing.

Single processing is utilized by many monument companies in an effort to save time and money. What they do is cover the monument with a rubber stencil and then remove the pieces of stencil that create the text. Once the stencil is removed, they sandblast the text and fill the sandblasted letters with mud or clay. They then remove the pieces of stencil that create the panels and sandblast them, wash out the mud, and consider themselves done. This process creates slightly rounded edges on the letters, thus eliminating a crisp, clean font.

Double Processing.

At Emerson Monument Company we utilize a technique commonly referred to as Double Processing. While this process does require more time and effort, we believe that it works to create a crisp, clean letter that is easily recognized from it's single-processed counterparts.

This technique, while largely considered an art of the past, is the process of applying a rubber stencil to the granite and then removing the panel portions first. We then sandblast the panels and then very carefully replace the stencil on top. We then remove the stencil from the text and sandblast it. This is referred to as double processing because the stencil touches the granite on two separate occasions.

At Emerson Monument Company we believe that, by double processing our monuments, we are providing the highest quality product to our customers at all times.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Not All Monuments Are Created Equally

If there is one thing that I did not realize prior to entering the monument industry, it is that not all monuments are created equally. Why? Because creating monuments is a true artform. And, just like the artists that you are familiar with, styles, techniques and abilities vary from monument builder to monument builder.

Over the next few weeks I will do a blog series about the many ways in which monument builders, and their styles, vary.

This Week's Topic is Shape Carving.

Shape carving is a term used when we refer to giving images dimension by use of a hand held sandblaster. Our guys suit up in a special helmet that offers an oxygen supply as well as other protective gear, and shape the images by hand. As you can imagine, this requires not only a high level of artistry, but a steady hand as well!

The interesting thing to know about shape carving is that many monument builders simply take a design and blow holes into it; this is a sad attempt to make the image appear as though it has seen below with this border I stumbled accross in a local cemetery. In this picture you will notice that the monument builder who is responsible for this work left the leaves flat and simply blew elongated holes into them in.

An example of poorly done shape carving. Done by another monument company.

The border above is an example of how many monument companys shape carve. They utilize techniques that save them time (and money), and give the consumer a product that is of sub-quality work. Another reason that some monument builders utilize this method is that they simply don't know how to do it any other way. Shape carving is a true artform whose teachings have been largely lost through the decades.

However, the correct way to do shape carving (the way we do it) is to take the image and actually round it in places where the image would naturally have dimension should it be found in nature. It is a time consuming task, but well worth the effort, as seen below with our own shape carved border.

The way a shape carved border should look! Here we have gently rounded the leaves to make them appear more natural. This is the correct way to do shape carving. This work was done at Emerson Monument Company.

This photo offers a close-up view of the shape carved leaf.

I hope you have found this post to be both interesting and helpful! At Emerson Monument Company we do things the right way the first time, and believe in offering a high quality product without cutting corners. If you have any questions about our monuments, please check out our website or give us a call.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When Your Parents Start Planning

Nearly each day I will have a sweet couple walk through my doors that is looking to pre-arrange for their memorial. Their reasoning? To make it easier on the kids.

And the kids' typical response? I don't want to even think about it.

Now, I will tell you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the aforementioned initial reaction. However, helping your parents pre-plan for their end of life needs can be a beautiful and meaningful process for all.
  1. Be Supportive. When your parents initially tell you that they are considering making their burial, cremation or funeral arrangements, stay calm, ask questions, and be sure to offer an outward display of strength and encouragement- even if you are falling apart inside. This is the absolute single most important piece of advice I can give you when it comes to your parents and their need and desire to plan ahead.
  2. Help Research. Your parents may already have a cemetery, memorial and funeral home in mind. However, many folks do not have know where to begin making these arrangements. If your parents don't know where to begin, ask them if you can assist in the search. Check out websites and ask friends for recommendations. Help them call around, ask questions and present your ideas and suggestions to them when the time is right.
  3. Be Gentle. If you have ideas concerning cemetery location, monument style or design, or the content of the funeral, be gentle in your suggestions and do not be offended if/when they do not share in your ideas. Remember, for many this topic is sensative and very personal.  
  4. Don't Rush. If your parents begin the process with gusto and then place their plans on hold, accept it as an indication that they have decided they are not ready to finalize plans just yet. Give them space and time to think through the decisions that need to be made- remember, many of these decisions are permanent!
  5. Go With Them But Hold Your Opinions. Ask your parents if you can go with them to make the arrangements. However, if you are planning to accompany them, do remember that these are their plans to make and that you should hold your comments, opinions and objections unless asked for them. Remember, doing this is stressful for them and they need to be re-assured and supported.
  6. Remember the Reason. It is important for the kids to understand that their parents' motivation for pre-arranging for their burial/cremation and funeral is completely selfless. Chances are they are doing it as an act of love in an effort to make the grieving process just a little easier on the remaining family and friends.
I hope that this information has helped you know how to best assist your parents (or any other loved ones, for that matter!) if and when they approach you about their end of life arrangements. If you or a loved one is in need of any information regarding this topic, please contact Emerson Monument Company and we will be glad to help.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beautiful Bronze Statuary

When the fine folks at the First Christian Church contacted Emerson Monument Company regarding a bronze chalice to go atop their beautiful mahogany granite columbarium, we were up for the challenge. The chalice has great meaning and symbolizm to the First Christian Church, as it represents a central place of communion in worship. The Cross cut-out (shaped as an X below) is known as Saint Andrew's Cross and represents the importance evangelism.

First Christian Church Logo
After obtaining an understanding of what the chalice should look like and the size that it should be to appropriately fit on the columbarium, we were able to collaberate with both our bronze manufacturer and our setting crew to determine the design details.

Once the design was determined, we received a styrofoam model of the chalice itself.
Styrofoam model
Once the styrofoam model was approved, a wax model was created. The wax model is what is used in the actual bronze-pouring process. We put the chalice next to a water bottle to give perspective to the size of the chalice.

Wax model
After the wax model was approved, it was time to pour the bronze. Now, I am not a bronze expert, nor do I claim to be. So, in order to share the process involved with creating bronze statuary, such as this, I found a video on You Tube that actually shows it.

The result was this beautiful bronze chalice!

Actual chalice
The final step in the process was to place the chalice on top of an existing granite columbarium. Our setting crew did a fantastic job of placing the chalice, thus adding the finishing touches to this stunning memorial.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

-Springdale, Ark.  Emerson Monument Company of Springdale, AR, is being featured in the June issue of the Monument Builders News. One of their original monuments, an upright memorial with a propeller bolted to the front, will be shown on the cover and is being commended as exhibiting creativity, extreme craftsmanship and a commitment to capture the essence in which the customer wished to be remembered.

The same issue further recognizes the company on both a national and international level for contributions to the industry in the area of creativity and innovation.

The Monument Builders News is a monthly membership-only publication with a circulation of approximately 2,000 worldwide, making it the largest monument industry publication of its kind.

Emerson Monument Company is the region’s largest locally owned and operated monument company, having serviced Northwest Arkansas, Northeast Oklahoma and Southwest Missouri since 1914.

Over the decades Emerson Monument Company has been recognized on both the state and local levels for their cemetery repair efforts, including a major restoration at Fayetteville’s historic Evergreen Cemetery in 2006.

“We are honored to be recognized in the Monument Builders News! We take pride in our craftsmanship and our unwavering dedication to customer service,” says Alison Raymer, Co-owner of Emerson Monument Company.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Austin Cemetery at Best, AR

Nestled deep in the Ozarks somewhere between Rogers and Clifty, Arkansas, sits the quiet little community of Best. Surrounded by trees, creeks and views, this community is home to one of the largest oak trees in the nation. But this small community is home to another interesting slice of history- The Austin Cemetery.

The Austin Cemetery at Best
At first glance, The Austin Cemetery is host to stunning views. However, as you look more closely, you will notice dozens of identicle small square headstons dotting the landscape.
These simple headstones, made of concrete and lacking inscriptions, were erected several years ago in honor of individuals whose graves had not been marked.
But finding these unmarked graves certainly wasn't easy. In fact, a lot of time and effort went into this privately funded project, resulting in the discovery of these unmarked graves.
So how did they determine where these unmarked graves were without a cemetery map or cemetery records? Well, they scraped the land and looked for areas in which the dirt appeared "different". And as they continued with their search they realized that the areas of "different dirt" were actually in perfect rows and even left room for a narrow pathway down the middle.
Determined that these individuals, regardless of their race, gender and history, lead lives worth remembering, the property owner erected small memorials on their behalf. But who are these people? Where did they come from and what did they do during their lifetimes? This project gained the attention of several area residents who are working to answer those questions. What an amazing project, indeed!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Homemade Memorials

So this past weekend I made a trip to the Butler Creek Cemetery, nestled in the hills just North of the community of Sulpher Springs. I had never been up toward that direction and, WOW! was it beautiful!!
Trees and plants of all kinds dot the landscape, creating a beautiful setting for this quaint little cemetery.

Butler Creek Cemetery
Aside from the beauty surrounding the cemetery, I was in awe of the number of homemade memorials that had been placed throughout and will focus this post on those memorials.

You see, mankind has had an emotional and historical need to remember the loved ones it has lost and the history it has made since the beginning of time. Of course we have evidence of this today with ancient monuments such as the Great Pyramids and their hieroglyphics, Stonehenge, and many, many more.
This need is inherent and human nature is to ensure that the need to remember is met.

While there is no material (to our knowledge) that will stand the test of time in the cemetery as long as or as well as granite, some families choose to create homemade memorials from other materials for several different reasons. Perhaps the family has experienced financial hardships that keep them from purchasing a granite memorial for their loved one. Or, perhaps their loved one worked in a certain area of skilled trade and the family simply wanted to remember them with something they had made. Whatever the reason, the important thing is that their loved one, whether they were cremated or traditionally buried, has been remembered and memorialized

This memorial (to the right) appears to have been derived from a cross-shaped tree branch. It has been whittled smooth and features the gentleman's name "Jim" where the arms cross. It is set into the ground with some concrete.

You will notice the little vase to the side of the monument has become separated from its base. Over the years I have heard countless customers describe the lengths they have gone to to fix a broken vase and, unfortunately, most of those remedies do not work.
Folks have tried Gorilla Glue, shoe glue, some kind of adhesive caulk, hot glue, the list goes one. However, if you want to re-attach a vase to a base, the only solution that truly works and holds up over time, is to use what we call "vase tape". If you need some, drop by the store and I will give you some.
If your vase has cracked, busted or otherwise broken, there is, unfortunately, no way to fix it indefinitely. The best solution if that is the case is to completely replace it.
This cross memorial (to the left) is actually one of my favorite homemade memorials in BCC and appears to have been chiseled from native stone.
The metal butterfly in the middle is actually wired to the memorial and looks like it is in pretty good shape.
The "sunburst" design back behind the cross has been beautifully done as well.
Although beautiful, I was unable to locate the name of the deceased on either the front or the back; Perhaps the inscription has weathered away.
This double marker (to the right) features a VA marker (free-issued by the US Government for Veteran's who had honorable discharges from any branch of the military) that has been inlaid into a concrete border that doubles as a memorial for his wife. The neat thing about this monument is 1) they used a colored concrete, which helps it become more visible from the ground and 2) they were really ingenious in their use of resources.
It isn't uncommon to have a family come in who has noticed that a homemade headstone has become difficult to read. In these cases the family will typically choose to leave the homemade memorial in the cemetery, undisturbed, and place a flat granite marker in front of it that lists the individual's name, dates and any other important information.

We hope you have found this post both informative and interesting. Please contact Emerson Monument Company if you have any questions or a need that we can assist you with.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

How You Can Help Those Who've Lost A Loved One.

There are moments throughout the day when I catch myself practically feeling the pain of the individual or family sitting across the sales table from me. It's not a casual "oh, I feel your pain", but a sincere, deep hurt that aches inside for this family and the loss they are suffering. Perhaps you have felt moments like that before. And, if you have, you may have found yourself wondering what to say or how to say it.

Sometimes, as a co-worker, friend, family member, or even a spouse, it can be difficult to know what to say and how to support another who has lost someone so dear to them. With that being said, it is my goal to offer you some tips and ideas (beyond the ordinary "take food" or "help with chores") for supporting those who may be grieving.

  1. Your friend/family member/co-worker/etc will not recover. When we lose a person who is special to us, we often feel that we have lost not only that individual and the life that was shared together, but we may also feel as though we have lost a piece of ourselves as well. Do not confine a person's grief to a certain period of time.
  2. Patience is a Virtue. You may have noticed that your friend/family member/co-worker/etc. expresses his or her pain and grief in unpredictable ways. Perhaps he or she cries at seemingly random times, or becomes agitated or forgetful. Do not demand this person to "get on with their life". On the other hand, do not avoid them or silently ignore their actions either. Instead, acknowledge their pain, offer a gentle smile or, if you don't know what to do or say, simply say "I really care about you and, while I don't know what to say, I do want you to know that I am here for you."
  3. Looks Are Deceiving. Your friend/family member/co-worker/etc. may look fabulous and act as though he or she feels great in public, but his or her appearance may not be an accurate representation of how he or she feels inside.
  4. Memories are Priceless. Help your friend/family member/co-worker/etc. remember his or her loved one by helping them remember the good times they had. Many who experience grief have an intense fear that they will forget their loved one over time. Help relieve that fear by helping him or her keep their loved one's memory alive. You may do this by offering a special journal for him or her to write down memories, or provide copies of any photos or memorabilia that you may have. Send a card or call on special occasions such as the deceased's birthday, anniversary, or other special life events.
  5. Don't Judge. If you are reading this post with someone in mind and are taking notes, then chances are you will not and have not judged your friend/family member/co-worker/etc. If you have experienced grief yourself, help your friend feel more normal by assuring them that you had the same thoughts or feelings when you lost someone you loved. If you are unable to offer that kind of assurance, simply encourage your friend and let him or her know that you are available to listen. And when you do listen, don't interrupt or say anything that may be interpreted as an attempt at minimizing their loss or pain.
In Northwest Arkansas we have been blessed with several organizations who offer grief support services to those who need them. If you are struggling with grief associated with the loss of a loved one, you might consider contacting Circle of Life Hospice or a trusted grief counselor. Those struggling with the loss of a pregnancy or the loss of a child under the age of two might also consider contacting NWA Share Parent Support Group. Of course there are countless organizations that offer counseling services in and around our area. If there is one that you would like to recommend, please leave a comment listing the organization's name and contact information.

I hope you have found this information helpful!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

When Inspiration Strikes

If there is one thing I love about my "job", it is listening to each familys' inspiration and making it become a reality in honor of their loved one. In fact, the more I help folks, the more I realize that we are all truly individuals: with individual likes, dislikes, interests, loves, opinions - the list could go on.
It also seems that each family, as a whole or as individuals, always holds tight to something that reminds them of their loved one: a favorite song or saying or verse...a photo or piece of artwork...a memory or single moment in time. The inspirations are countless.

A few weeks ago I had a sweet customer bring in this photo. She had found it online and immediately fell in love with it; and I can see why- it is absolutely beautiful!

Although I have admired their beauty for years, I never really knew much about the cherry blossoms and their significance in several Asian cultures. And as the daughter explained it to me, the more interested I became in researching the meaning behind this beautiful flower.

In the Japanese culture, these sweet little blossoms are most commonly held as symbols of purity, good fortune, love, life and mortality. So why do they act as a symbol of mortality? My research shows that it is due to the blossom's short life cycle.

In the Chinese culture it appears that the cherry blossoms take on a whole different meaning. In China it appears that the cherry blossom is associated with feminine beauty, love and passion.

With that symbolism being known, it is easy to understand why this sweet daughter would want to incorporate the cherry blossom into her mother's memorial. On  occasion a customer will come in with a specific design idea that is completely unlike anything I have in my design library. When this happens, as it did in this situation, we search our system to see if there is anything relatively close to what the customer wanted. And when it appears there is not, we are left to draw our own the design by hand.

You will notice the design on the left (the closest match from our system) does not have the same clarity as the one on the right (the one we drew by hand). You will also notice the symbols- all of which we drew by hand as well.

After completing the drawing we let the family review both proofs and select the one they felt was most like their initial inspiration. The family selected the hand drawn proof (the one on the right) and then we began the manufacturing process.

I was very pleased with the way this monument turned out; it is such a beautiful memorial for a special mother and her daughter.