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 shape...as 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.