Creative Ideas for Memorial Headstone Designs
While purchasing a stone for your loved one, you’ll learn it’s not as cut and dry anymore as simply stating RIP, name and dates.
There are so many more options now-a-days to consider: Designs/Clip art, Endearment, Epitaph, Photo’s, stone shape, oh my.
A granite headstone is a personalized representation of a life lived well.
Take a few moments to remember the achievements, talents and personality traits of your loved one. Jot down some notes to describe the individual’s motivations, passions, hobbies …anything you can think of that represents your loved one’s personality.
For instance maybe your loved one liked painting, gardening, camping, nature or dirt biking. Maybe they had a strong faith or a pet they loved or a favorite tattoo. These are all things that can be incorporated in the design of a headstone.
In my 10 years of experience working in this industry I’ve helped create numerous custom and beautiful designs for those who’ve wanted something a little extra special to honor and memorialize their loved one. Among them, I recently helped a customer whose heritage was of a royal line native to Africa. This customer wanted to honor his 3 ancestors by incorporating their rich culture with custom graphics.
These graphics consisted of: a double gong, the crossroad X symbol, a salamander, a Cameroon horn drinking cup and two cultural Bamum hats (which symbolized power, royalty and fertility).
Coming together with the customer’s wishes, we were able to create something entirely unique and beautiful to commemorate his loved ones. (Names and dates were changed to protect the identity of our customer).
But designs are just one facet that make up the stone as a whole. What about the endearment or epitaph?
An endearment is an expression of affection and love. With respect to headstones, an endearment is a short phrase that often indicates how the decedent will be remembered. Examples include “Beloved Son” or “Loving Husband, Father and Grandfather”.
An epitaph is the short phrase or poem that is generally inscribed at the bottom of a gravestone marker. Epitaphs are often inspired by the decedent’s life and accomplishments. Some such examples can be, “A godly man who served the Lord all his days”, or “She filled every second of her life with laughter, love and happiness.” I’ve known some to be humorous as well, such as, “Roll over Frank, you’re snoring” and “He Loved Bacon”. And of course the most famous epitaph is simply, “Rest In Peace”.
“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
There are times when a person is known in life by their nickname rather than their birth name. In this event it is perfectly acceptable to have that name on the headstone. If the cemetery requires that the birth name be present on the stone as well, I always suggest putting in parentheses or quotation marks their nickname. Other ways to emphasize the nickname is to make it larger than the birth name, or you can separate the nickname by having it larger and underneath the full birth name.
Photo or no Photo? I’ve learned that many people usually have very strong opinions about photos of their deceased loved ones on memorial stones. While some people love the idea of being able to see a beautiful picture of their loved one, others may find it’s distasteful or interestingly enough “morbid”. My job isn’t to convince you otherwise, it’s simply to inform you of options available to you. The choice is completely yours as everyone has their own preference. That being said, their are a few different types of photos that can be added to a stone. I’m going to focus on two of these different types: Enameled steal cameos and Engraved photos.
Enameled Steal Cameos: are permanent kiln fired digital images. They can be made as color, black and white or Sepia photos. Any original photo or scanned image can be reproduced and permanently fired into a variety of oval, square, rectangular and even heart shaped tiles. When placing your cameo on the memorial stone generally we sand carve the granite to the shape and depth of the ceramic so it is inlayed flush with the surface. This processes further protects your ceramic from the elements and a prevention against vandalism.
Engraved Photos: are sandblast (engraved) photos consisting of many different tones, shades and colors we convert into halftone images. Halftone artwork is used to reproduce grayscale images by breaking the image into small dots (like photos in the newspaper). These dots will vary in size to represent the tonal areas of the artwork, giving the illusion of a grayscale image. Engraved photos can only be created on Black color granite to better see the image.
Let’s talk about shape. Now there are many cemeteries who do have strict rules and regulations about what kind of shape stone they will allow. So first things first: ALWAYS check with your cemetery to see what those requirements are. However, in the event the cemetery will allow any shape, there are many different options to choose from: Flat stones, Pillow Tops (also known as Hickeys), Slant’s, Benches or Uprights. Sometimes the shape of the stone can represent your loved one just as easily as the inscription on the stone. For example, I had a customer who lost her baby daughter. To memorialize her daughter, she had us create an upright in the shape of a beautiful princess castle.