Memorial Mosaics

Memorial Mosaics are beautiful and enduring pictures built of stone, custom created to celebrate and honor the life of your loved one. These stone mosaics typically serve in place of a traditional grave marker, often covering the whole burial site. Memorial Mosaics offer you an amazing opportunity to tell a story about your loved one, their life, their passions, their legacy. The image created, the colors chosen, the stones used can all connect to their life and your lasting memories.

Creating a Memorial Mosaic is a three part process: Design, Production, and Installation.

The Hiker Memorial Mosaic

The Hiker Memorial Mosaic

DESIGN

This is the most important and collaborative part of the process. This is the time where we become acquainted, I learn about your loved one and we explore visual themes to celebrate their life. This process takes place in many ways: in person, over the phone and on the internet with e-mail and Skype. The design emerges over time, as I learn more about your beloved and you respond to the sketches I make. People oftentimes find this to be a very healing and celebratory process. I will be relying on you to provide me with stories, insights, pictures and details that will help me create a truly moving and appropriate memorial.

INSPIRATION

There’s no end to possible sources of inspiration for your beloved’s memorial. Designs can be very abstract, like shapes that suggest the mountains, the sea, or a quilt pattern. Designs can also be more representational, like human or animal figures or a precise rendering of a city skyline. Ideas can come from anywhere: your beloved’s favorite place, a piece of artwork they made, their profession or hobbies and might even include their own image.

INSCRIPTIONS

Early on the design process, we will discuss what inscriptions are appropriate for the memorial. Inscriptions may be placed on a separate panel within the piece or integrated into the design. Inscriptions can include any desired text, such as dates, prayers, or quotes. Clarifying the inscription early in the design process has a significant impact on how the design is developed and influences the production time and cost of the memorial.

LOCATION

It’s important that I have a good understanding of where the mosaic will be situated. This helps me generate a design that suits the space, as well as plan for a successful installation. Providing me with contact information for the cemetery’s caretaker is crucial. I will make direct contact with them, explain my process, and find out what rules they have regarding memorials.

DELIVERY DATE

In our first discussions, we will talk about a delivery date. Knowing that you have a special event planned allows me to make sure the memorial is ready for you.

MATERIALS

My main material is stone. I like to use a combination of stone with natural finishes- the rough textures of quarried or field stone, the smooth shapes of beach pebbles or river rock- as well as the honed and polished finishes of slab stones, like the granites and marbles used for countertops. I often collect stone scraps from local countertop companies, happy to be able to reuse a ‘waste’ material. By juxtaposing different colors and textures I am able to create images and moods and tell a story.

The materials we choose also help to connect and deepen the story. Our design may include stones from a part of the world that was important to the person, or perhaps even actual stones they collected on their travels.

Other durable materials, like cast or slab glass, weatherproof tiles and metal may find their way into certain designs.

Fabricating the Hiker

Fabricating the Hiker

PRODUCTION

I will build the memorial in my workshop in Asheville, North Carolina. I use a variety of stone working techniques to create the shapes and finishes required to realize a design. I use a lot of the same tools and techniques found in a countertop shop, but adapted to my materials and designs. I also use hammers and chisels and other more traditional methods to create the memorial.

Throughout the production process I will share images with you so that you can see the design emerging. I will build a ‘sandbox’ that’s the same size as the installation site. As I cut and finish the stones, I will place them in the sandbox, making sure I have the desired fits between the stones. By doing this, I ensure that the design and image are coming together as planned and that I will have a smooth installation.

Once the piece is completed, I package it for shipping.

Memorial halfway installed at gravesite

Memorial halfway installed at gravesite

INSTALLATION

Ideally, the installation process is a simply a matter of assembling the pieces to create the image. The first step is to establish a boundary around the piece, typically stone edging, similar to curbstones. These pieces are stood up in the ground and anchored with concrete. The edging establishes the boundary and elevates the mosaic off the ground a few inches. This strengthens the visual impact and makes it easier for the cemetery caretakers to mow and otherwise maintain the area around the marker. A gentle slope to the overall piece helps to prevent rainwater from pooling on the surface.

After the boundary is set, I will place the pieces of the design. I prefer to use a setting bed of gravel and to lay the stone pieces dry, without mortar or concrete. This provides structural as well as aesthetic benefits. The loose pieces allow for the daily expansion and contraction that stone goes through as temperatures rise and fall and it is exposed to sunlight and shade. A dry-laid mosaic also has dark joint lines between the pieces, which add visual impact and are more attractive and natural looking than a line of grout.

Stone has been used for millennia to commemorate and honor those who have passed on. Memorial Mosaics are a new interpretation in a tradition as ancient as culture itself. The memorial we will create for your loved one will be beautiful, will tell an amazing story and will be an enduring monument to their life and your love.

I would be honored to work with you to create a Memorial Mosaic to tell the story and celebrate the life of your beloved. Please call me at (828) 337-7582 or e-mail me.