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Headstone design -your questions answered

Posted 12/09/14 in The Headstone Guide

The following tips will hopefully answer the most commonly asked questions about headstone design.

1. How do I choose the size of the stone?

The height and the width of the stone is determined by the shape of the inscription. We don't keep 'off the self' blank headstones. Instead each one is specifically cut down to the right size. Therefore it is vital to think about the inscription before the shape.

simple headstone design

2. Is a simple stone ok?

Yes, simple is fine.... and try and avoid the obvious such as 'in loving memory'.  In fact I often find the simplest stones are the most beautiful and moving.

headstone design

3.What about rules and regulations?

None of the designs we have made have ever been rejected, mostly because we work within the given rules of the churchyard or cemetery. In fact most vicars will actively encourage and support a hand-made headstone, even if it slightly bends the rules.

headstone design on paper

4. Does a design for a hand carved headstone need to be really fancy?

Not at all. Just because the gravestone is handmade it doesn't have to be different and 'arty' ! Sometimes all that is needed is some really fine lettering and spacing, with a simple design like the one above.  If on the other hand you have a detailed and complex design in mind that is also great; it is all about giving you choice.

5.What factors influence the choice of design?

When considering headstone design, the general feel and character of a headstone is very much up to the individual who commissions the stone.

design for the back of a headstone

After a few discussions about content and size, shape and material, it is important to discuss the character. The inscription may need to be formal and upright, maybe using capital letters. Sans serif lettering tends to give a more modern feel. Italics and flourishes are more relaxed.

Whatever the temperament of the stone, current trends are best avoided and the lettering style used needs to be long lasting.

The stone will be marking the grave for a long time and therefore timelessness is important.

6. How long will it take?

Be prepared to wait. As every headstone we make is bespoke, each process will take time. Four to six months is the absolute minimum. But don't feel guilty about being responsible for an unmarked grave; others will notice far more if you had something made badly in a hurry!

7.Can I change the design if I am not happy with it?

Yes of course!  After the initial meeting, I come up with a design which is intended as the first step.  You can make as many changes and amendments as you feel necessary until it is just right.  The design is then drawn onto the stone and you can then have a look at it again before I begin cutting.  At this stage there are often further changes and subtle adjustments to be made with the spacing.

design for a gravestone

8.How do you transfer the design to the stone?

Some people blow up the design and trace it, but something will always be lost.  I prefer to transfer it by eye, drawing out three letters at a time and adjusting the spacing as I go.  This process takes time and often several attempts.

design headstones advice