Table of Contents

A few days ago I did a “thing” and got my office organized. Professionally organized, that is. I finally had to follow my pride, call an organizing service, and ask them to come help me get myself organized. 

Can I just tell you how silly I felt, hiring an organizer to help me do something that I am perfectly capable of doing? They came in and made me go through every. single. item. Can you imagine going through every single item in your desk drawer, filing cabinet and "junk bin"? We found all sorts of stuff! Plastic silverware (calm down, it was still in the package!), photos of the kids that I had forgotten about, a random clapper, and tons of old shopping receipts. 

Have you ever found old shopping receipts? It's like you can barely tell where they are from 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.  

I find it so sad that nothing is permanent anymore. Social medias go out of style and slowly disappear, websites and servers go down, brick and mortar stores pack up and become cyber stores. Appliances last a few years and break- nothing is permanent. Nothing, that is, except for cemeteries and headstones.

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 love! With that said, it is important to me that each family’s memorial turn out to be permanently beautiful. When I work on a memorial I want it 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 avoid the three common mistakes listed below.

1. Using Colored Paints

Paint has a place in monument-making. However, there is a problem with paint. Paint is a man-made material that will eventually fade or chip away. While it might not seem as though it matters, if the proper engraving styles are not used underneath the paint, your letters or design could be lost forever. People often ask us to paint a rose pink and paint a stem green. Or add color to some other design. Of course, we are glad to, but we always advise that the paint will not last forever. You can see on the example, that the original monument maker cut corners and did not use an industry-standard engraving method on the stone. They hid their corner-cutting with paint. You will notice how the paint is fading and the words look bad and are becoming lost.

2. Not Using The Stone's Natural Contrast

When the stone is quarried from the ground it appears as it's natural color. Typically this color is a lighter color. Then, when the stone is polished, the surface of the stone turns a slightly darker 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.

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.

The photo of Rena's monument shows you how an improper engraving style was used on gray granite. Unfortunately, the text is not legible unless you view it close up.

3. Not Working With a Professional

Several years ago I received a phone call from a woman who had lost her baby girl. She had had a monument made by a cheap, on-line monument shop, and had become unhappy with it.

She was unhappy because the design and the text identifying her sweet girl 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.

The original monument-maker had obviously cut several corners when making this baby's memorial. The shop had not cared to understand the contrast in the color of the granite they were working with. They had chosen a light gray granite stone, which has very little contrast and requires a shallow "frosted" surface be created and then a deep "v" cut carving added to the top of it to achieve a contrast. But, rather than take the time and materials needed to achieve the proper carving, the shop used a shallow carving directly on the polished surface of the stone. And, to top it off, they used a cheap automotive paint to cover up their poor work.

The result? The automotive paint came out and the text and design became practically invisible.

Unfortunately for this devastated mother, starting over and doing the job right was the best option. Rather than make the mistake this woman did, work with us at Emerson Monument Company.

Want Step-by-Step Tips For Creating Your Monument?
Download our FREE Guide!

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Emerson Monument Company, 806 S. Thompson, Springdale, AR, 72764, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Written by Alison Raymer, Certified Memorialist

Alison Raymer is the co-owner of Emerson Monument Company in Springdale, Arkansas. As a child she thought she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Instead, she became a different kind of story teller- one that tells stories in stone. As Arkansas’ only Certified Memorialist, Alison helps families preserve precious memories and legacies for future generations yet to come. She holds a Bachelors in Professional Accountancy from Ouachita Baptist University and a Masters in Business Administration from John Brown University. She has served on the Board of Directors and as President of the Monument Builders of North America and as a representative on the Funeral and Memorial Information Council.