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A few days ago I did a "thing" and got my office organized. Professionally organized, that is. I finally had to swallow my pride, call an organizing service, and ask them to come help me conquor some organization dilemas that I was dealing with. 

Can I just tell you how silly I felt hiring an organizer to help me do something that I am probably perfectly capable of doing? But, when they got here I was so relieved to have the help! These ladies helped me go through my desk, filing cabinets, storage areas, and look at and touch every. single. item. We would look at whatever it was and decide if we should keep and file, shred, trash, donate, etc. It was an almost overwhelming task!! But it was also kind of funny because we found all sorts of stuff! Plastic silverware (calm down, it was unused!), photos of the kids that I had forgotten about, random stickers, and tons of old shopping receipts. 

Have you ever found old shopping receipts? It's like you can barely tell where they are from or what they were for because the ink has faded so much. Someone once told me they use special "disappearing ink" (there is likely a more professional word for the ink they use, but I don't know it) that is designed to fade to make it more difficult to return items to the store as time goes on. Isn't that odd? 

I find it so odd that things are designed and manufacted to NOT be permanent anymore. Somewhere down the road our society has chosen to accept that goods are not made to last like they once were. Expensive cell phones become slow after a few years and need replacement. Home appliance are cheaply made and now need periodic replacement. Social medias go out of style and slowly disappear. Websites and servers go down. Nothing is truly permanent any more. Nothing, that is, except for cemeteries.


Cemeteries are sacred, legally protected places; the only place where a permanent record of one's existence and legacy truly exists. In the cemetery stones may span hundreds of years old and tell the stories of those we never met, but are impacted by on a daily basis. I am constantly amazed that I get to work on such an important piece of our local and regional history each and every day!

And, I don't know about you, but I believe in preserving history. Especially family history. It helps us understand who we are & where we come from. Handling such important history is something that I absolutely love! With that said, it is important to me that each  memorial that I work on turn out to be permanently beautiful. I want the finished memorial to be just as beautiful tomorrow as it was yesterday. 

But, in order for a memorial to be permanently beautiful, it is important that you consider the following advice and avoiding 3 common mistakes.

1. Don't Use Colored Paints

Many families ask if we can do things like paint the rose pink and do the stems in green, or paint a laser etched picture. And, while we are physically capable of doing so, we do have to warn the family that the paint will be vibrant for a short while. But, as it sits in the sun day in and day out, year after year, it will fade. Sometimes the family is okay with that, but the memorial will definitely begin to lose it's beauty during the paint chipping/fading process. 

See the stone below? It has a lot of problems. 

Problem 1: This stone was not engraved properly to achieve good contrast between the shiny polished surface of the stone and the underlying natural color of the stone. (more on that topic in the section below)

Problem 2: Bold white paint was used to cover up the poor craftsmanship. See how the paint has worn out of the letters? Because the monument was not created with contrast and permanant beauty in mind, it is now becoming very difficult to read. 


2. Do Use the Stone's Natural Contrast

Look at the photo of the monument above and keep it in mind as you read this. Every stone we work with has a natural contrast between the polished (shiny) surface and the natural color of the surface down below the polish. 

When we sandblast the stone we are basically cutting through the polish and exposing the natural color. 

A good memorialist knows that what lies underneath a stone's surface can be a beautiful color that can lend permanent beauty to the stone if it is utilized correctly. So, rather than add a ton of different paints that will fade to the stone, a good memorialist will use the natural contrast in the stone to create text and images that will stand the test of time. By carving lightly or deeply into the stone, or using a combination of carved depths, the carver can create a memorial that will be permanently beautiful forever.

See the stone in the photo above? And the stone in the photo below? Both are good examples of why contrast matters. 

Sometimes a memorialist will utilize a black lithochrome paint to help highlight a design. However, the design should be carved so that, when the paint comes out, the viewer will still be able to enjoy the beauty of the design.

3. Do Work With a Certified Memorialist

Several years ago I received a phone call from a woman who had lost her baby. She had had a monument made by a company that prided itself in being "cheap". A year after the monument had been installed, she had become unhappy with the stone.

She was unhappy because the text identifying her sweet baby was no longer visible. "I want people to know who my daughter was," she sobbed into the phone.

I assured her that I would take a look at the stone and see what we could do. And, when I got to the cemetery, I was appalled by what I found.

FYI: This monument below was NOT made by Emerson Monument Company. 


The original monument-maker had obviously cut several corners when making this baby's memorial. The shop had not cared to understand the contrast of the stone color they were working with and, thus, did not evgrave the stone properly. Rather than take the time and materials needed to achieve the proper carving, the maker used a very shallow carving directly on the polished surface of the stone along with a cheap automotive paint to cover up their poor work.

The result? The automotive paint came out and the text is now almost completely invisible. Unfortunately for this devastated mother,  starting over and doing the job right was the best option.

The Easy Way to Avoid These 3 Common Mistakes

Rather than make the mistakes listed above, seek the help of a Certified Memorialist and/or a company owned/managed/lead by one. A Certified Memorialist is certified by the nation's largest association of monument professionals- The Monument Builders of North America. They have obtained their certification by first becoming eligible to sit for the CM exam by accruing hours of industry experience and education. They must then commit to a code of ethics and pass an extensive exam on monument making. Certified Memorialists must also accrue several hours of continuing education each year to keep their certification current. 

Emerson Monument Company is proud to be the only Certified Memorialist in the State of Arkansas- Alison Raymer. 

Alison is committed to the families we serve and ensures that our staff is as well. All staff members are trained on best practices throughout the year and take pride in the roles they play in providing your loved one with a permanantly beautiful memorial that you can be proud of. 



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