Friday, October 12, 2012

Make Tombstones

William makes faux tombstones. They are works of art with a reverent nod to history, and All Hallo's Eve. He has been working on these grave markers since last year. He's done a lot of research... for historic accuracy and also to learn the best techniques, in carving, and painting, and to determine the best materials. I cannot say enough about how much care and attention goes in to each and every piece.

This is one of the first ones he carved. This was done free hand, using construction foam. He likes to model his designs inspired by genuine graveyard motifs of the 18th century.

Rebekah and I followed William into the carport to see the faux column he is constructing, and when I realized my cousin hadn't seen what William has been doing, I asked William to show her his art.

I can write about how impressed and proud of his work I am, but what I really want is for him to take over, here, and explain his thought process, his methods, the challenges, the successes. It's been a long labor of love, and he has a diligence and determination to adhere to high standards. It makes me reluctant to even try and describe what he is achieving, because I know I won't get it quite right.

Ask him! Anything. Do you have a question about his choices, or how he gets them to look the way they do? They are unfinished. He has more plans for aging them. I am hoping that he will write a post and answer our questions, because I would love to have his thoughts recorded, here.

He's made a lot of them... gravestones, markers, foot markers, headstones... each unique, each nearly completed.

This is the one we came out to see, specifically. He asked me to photograph it before he paints it.

The foam pieces are hand cut, and then were glued onto the concrete tube form. The cheap vase was a thrift shop score.

Do you know about Ouroboros, the ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail?

It might be hard for William to find time to write a post for me... he wants these finished as soon as possible. We want to spook up the garden for Halloween.

He's working very hard.

I promise to keep you posted on his progress!*

*I promised an update on William's progress with his tombstones. Actually, shortly after the post about the tombstones, he had a small crisis of faith. He's put so much time and thought into these, that finishing them, and achieving the quality, aged look that he wanted to get began to feel, for him, close to impossible. He's learning as he goes, and his paint sprayer was malfunctioning, and stuff was... you know doing what stuff does... not working the way he needed it to. I was no help, because all I could see was what looked like a success... really cool, good looking markers. But he was determined to achieve exactly the authentic, realistic, and weathered look of actual cemetery headstones, and he was not about to settle for really cool.

And he was right. The next level is remarkable. He's pleased, too. It took many experiments, and adjustments, and now he is finding the right colors, textures, and layering methods to make the headstones look as though they have been worn by time and nature, by slow decay, cold nights, damp summers.

He's making great progress, and we are seeing a project many, many months in the making come to a happy conclusion.

Construction foam, research, regard and respect for historic craftsmanship, a Dremel- high speed rotary tool, paint, paint, and more paint... he's brought all of this together to great effect.

Somehow, finished with William's great care, these seem so much more than a Halloween prop. They really do convey the thoughtfulness, and esteem shown for the loved ones who have passed on. The motifs, the time spent to create those original pieces... it makes me reflective and mindful of the beauty conveyed in these traditions, and remembrances. Well done, William.

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