Summer is a busy time for my Cemetery Preservation Workshops (natch). I wanted to post a stunning before and after photo of a pedestal style grave marker. The John Bartenster monument was cleaned by Dave and Ruth as part of the workshop I did with the New London, Wisconsin, Museum. Dave and Ruth participated in the workshop and, as such, did hands-on cleaning after the classroom. They used water (and lots of it) and D/2 Biological Solution. As you can see in the After image (on right), the inscription is much clearer to read. You can even see the International Order of Odd Fellows symbolism (the three "chain links"). Great job, Dave and Ruth!
Sometimes when we clean gravestones the "After" result isn't as dramatic as we'd like to see.
I was recently hired to clean some gravestones in a cemetery outside of Cashton, WI. It was in that cemetery that I encountered the most stubborn biological growth I have ever tried to clean. In my 12 years of gravestone cleaning, I have never encountered algae coverage as black, thick, and resilient as found on this marble gravestone, especially on the backside. My first cleaning turned the black into gray. The D/2 Biological Solution I use to clean and treat gravestones continues to work for several weeks as it kills the stuff growing on the stone. While I know that the algae has permanently stained the marble, I'm hoping that once the algae is killed off, it will lighten up even more. I'll provide an update the next time I'm able to stop by that cemetery.
I follow professional cleaning guidelines of "DO NO HARM" to self nor the gravestone while cleaning. I suppose if I blasted the gravestone with a power washer and grinded it down with a metal bristle brush I would have better results. But I'm in this business to "save stones," not just make them look nicer for my clients.
I recently spent a beautiful afternoon with eighth graders learning about gravestone symbolism in the Woodlawn Cemetery, Sparta, WI. I appreciate how fascinated they are about the meaning behind symbols, like clasped hands, and shapes, like the lamb, and what they once meant to the people who chose to include them on the gravemarkers of their loved ones.
Twenty-five folks came to the Cemetery Preservation and Gravestone Cleaning workshop at the Goodhue Historical Society in Red Wing, MN, last week. The first half of the day was spent inside (where it was dry) learning about topics like preservation ethics, gravestone symbolism, and lichen growth. The second half of the workshop was in the field cleaning gravestones. Even though it was a steady rain all day, at least 15 of the participants tried their hand at cleaning gravestones. Hey--it sure made it easy to keep the gravestones wet the whole time!
Save Your Stones: Tombstone Preservation and Hands-on Workshop,
May 20 @ 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Learn how to Preserve and Restore Tombstones!
Jarrod Roll, founder of Save Your Stones and a local history professional, will lead a full day workshop on tombstone preservation and restoration. Participants will receive their own preservation kit (a$25 value), and lunch is included in the program cost. The program consists of a presentation at the History Center, followed by a hands-on workshop at Oakwood Cemetery in Red Wing. Cemetery professionals, genealogy enthusiasts, and local history buffs won’t want to miss this engaging and informative program.
Saturday, May 20th, 9 AM-3 PM
Registration, through Red Wing Community Education, is $38 per person and includes a professional preservation kit and lunch.
Register HERE: https://goodhuecountyhistory.org/event/save-your-stones-tombstone-preservation-and-hands-on-workshop/
Jarrod Roll...museum curator by training, preservation educator by passion. Director of the Monroe County Local History Room & Museum, Sparta, WI. Owner of Save Your Stones Gravestone Restoration Services. Maker of the Gravestone Cleaning Kit.