How to Rub Cemetery Headstones

By Maryelser Kinmore
Rub Cemetery Headstones

There are many different hobbies for people to enjoy in their spare time. Some people like to walk through cemeteries and rub old headstones. This is also a way of preserving inscriptions and unusual symbols found on old and new tombstones. This hobby is inexpensive and can be done by yourself or with your children. You can frame finished headstone rubbings and hang them on your wall. They also make for interesting conversations when when you have company.

How to Rub Cemetery Headstones

Get permission. Some graveyards and cemeteries are privately owned and not open to the public. Check with local officials to make sure it's all right to go in the cemetery. Also check if headstone rubbings are allowed. Some states have banned this practice because of damage that can occur to the tombstones.

Pick a headstone. Find a headstone that is steady and standing upright. Leave those that lean or wobble, have a hollow sound when knocked on or the surface is crumbly. Making a rubbing of these unstable headstones may cause damage that can't be fixed.

Clean off the headstone. Some headstones may be dirty or have vegetation growing over them. Gently remove any moss or other vegetation off of the surface. Gently wipe off as much dirt and debris as you can with a soft-bristled brush. Spraying a little water over the surface of the headstone before using the brush may be necessary. Let it dry for about 20 minutes before continuing.

Prepare the paper. Hold your white paper up in front of the headstone and then cut to size. You can also cut the paper before going to the cemetery. Carefully secure the paper to the top and sides of the headstone with tape, making sure to cover the entire surface. The tape will keep the paper from slipping while making the rubbing. Painter's masking tape, which can be found in hardware and craft stores, won't leave a sticky residue behind.

Make the rubbing. Crayons, charcoal or rubbing wax can be used for rubbings. Take a piece of charcoal and lightly rub the outside edges first. Next, slowly fill in the rest of the tombstone. If you prefer a darker image then rub a little harder. Just be careful so you don't rip the paper and mark on the surface of the headstone. When the rubbing is done, remove the tape and paper from the tombstone. Before leaving the cemetery, make sure you've cleaned up after yourself.

About the Author

Maryelser is a full time freelance writer. She specializes in cooking, gardening and crafts and has published numerous articles on