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Monday, April 19, 2010

Headstone Cleaning

An odd subject, but one I've found is little known. This grave belongs to my mother-in-law's father.
He was buried in 1934 and although the grave had been attended regularly over the years, the gravel had become scant and mossy. The headstone itself was practically illegible and my mother-in-law was talking about having it re-painted. Mostly this grave is made from cast cement with a granite headstone. Pretty robust really but even on these surfaces chemicals are a no-no including soaps and detergents which are not ph neutral. You can get a product that is a non-ionic detergent that is sold at camera supply outlets that is pretty safe to use on most surfaces also but it is not a miracle cleaner and I have not needed it yet.
The first thing to remember is "first do no harm" so check everything over for any loose, flaking or unstable areas because you want to enhance not destroy.
It is surprising what a simple bucket of water and a good old fashioned bristle brush can achieve.
Mostly a scrub will remove dirt, lichen and moss. You can see the difference here between the two graves of similar age and material. We weeded and raked the gravel surface, picking off large moss clumps. We freshened it up with a scattering of fresh white gravel.
After a good scrub the headstone also became legible again.
It was a great result for about an hours work and no damage done.
I found this site very useful for reference and guidance.
So much information and history can be gleaned from cemetries and it's important to care for this often neglected area. My mother-in-law has derived such comfort from having a grave that reflects love and care and it proudly re-tells it's story now that the inscription is revealed again, telling of a father gone too soon in a time of limited medical knowledge, leaving a widow with two very small children. Not an uncommon story, but an important story non the less.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Tanya, I don't think this is something I have ever considered but you have a knack of blogging the important things in life and sharing your wide knowledge. I love reading your posts, Love Amanda xx


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