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Grave markers


#1
  1. I have recently discovered that most grave markers in the US are
    sand-cast bronze. Why are they done almost exclusively in bronze and
    never in brass? What is the technique used for custom designs (from
    hi-contrast black-and-white vector graphics) that makes it so
    difficult (expensive) for them to do a custom design?

  2. I plan to do my mom’s grave marker at a place that does
    photo-etched plaques (also for outdoors). They fold and solder the
    edges to give it thickness and then fill it (so it’s like a filled
    box). It then gets mounted on a thick slab of granite, like the
    bronze castings. Does it make a difference (in terms of wearability)
    if it is bronze or brass? They seem to have no trouble getting a
    dark brown, even background on brass (chemically–not paint). Any
    suggestions for the filler material (some sort of plastic?)?

Thanks for any info/suggestions!
Janet in Jerusalem


#2
I have recently discovered that most grave markers in the US are
sand-cast bronze. Why are they done almost exclusively in bronze
and never in brass? 

Huh. In my experience, they are mostly granite.

Regional difference?

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com


#3
I have recently discovered that most grave markers in the US are
sand-cast bronze. Why are they done almost exclusively in bronze
and never in brass? 

Bronze weathers better than brass, maybe that’s the reason. CIA


#4

Elaine,

Here in the Pacific Northwest, the headstones that I have seen are
stone.

However, the cemetery also has some graves marked only with a slab
lying flat on the ground. These are made of metal–looks like bronze.

Alma


#5

Elaine, the type of memorials permitted depends on the individual
cemetery’s regulations. Some allow upright granite monuments, some
granite flat markers, others bronze markers.

There are additional variations with the type of base. Some bronze
ones have a granite base, others have a concrete base under the
marker. So, Janet, the first step is to contact the cemetery and
find out the allowable materials and size, and if a granite base is
permitted.

I believe most of the bronze markers companies use a number of
standard designs that are replicated exactly, one to the next,
except for personal info that is slugged into the mold. I saw
memorial companies online who make brass markers in the UK and
Australia, but I’m unfamiliar with any in the US. Brass is more often
used for a plaque or bench marker rather than ground placement. Like
anything else, it could well be I just hadn’t encountered such in my
former life working in a cemetery.

Carol


#6

Hi Janet;

While there is really no firm division between the two copper alloys,
bronze is perceived as more valuable than brass, which usually
contains a higher proportion of zinc, and it’s easier to cast
without lots of sickening zinc smoke, so that might account for its
prevalent use in memorial markers. Typically these are sand-cast from
standard patterns with ornamentation around the edges and a flat
field in the middle. The lettering in the field is the only feature
that normally changes; to create an entirely new design would mean
starting from scratch, which the technicians at most monument
companies are generally unequipped to do.

You should check with the cemetery to see if this plan is acceptable
to them. I’m not sure about how it works in Jerusalem, but in the
US, most cemeteries (or “Memorial Parks”, as they like to be called
here) reserve the right to screen and veto any proposed markers they
don’t provide themselves. This is justified to some extent by the
physical demands of the situation - notably being able to survive
being run over by large lawn-mowing machines - but also reflects
their inevitably conservative tastes, and often their preference for
certain vendors. If your cemetery approves of your proposal, I’d
think a sand-filled polyester resin would probably work as well as
anything to fill the hollow plaque.

Andrew Werby
www.computersculpture.com


#7

Hi Andrew,

While there is really no firm division between the two copper
alloys, bronze is perceived as more valuable than brass, which
usually contains a higher proportion of zinc, and it's easier to
cast without lots of sickening zinc smoke, so that might account
for its prevalent use in memorial markers. 

Well if you go by Copper.org the definition between brass, bronze
and copper alloys are very blurred imo. Bronze for the past 2000+
years had a proportion of tin in it, it’s only in the 20th Century
that bronze became a term for a lot of copper alloys.

If you make a tin bronze “it will” be more valuable than brass. In
the current market Tin is, at least, 10 times the price of zinc.

Tin acts as a corrosion inhibitor, so there will be surface
corrosion on a piece of tin bronze whilst the brass pits and corrodes
a lot faster.

If you have a brass plaque and a tin bronze plaque, the tin bronze
will last longer, due to the alloy properties.

Regards Charles A.


#8

Hi Carol,

I had planned my design on the basis of a 4-page list of specs and
restrictions from the particular cemetery in California…:-)…

What did you mean by personal info that is “slugged into the mold”?
It was this process of producing the variable part (lettering) that
I was interested in finding out more about…

You write: “I saw memorial companies online who make brass markers
in the UK and Australia”…could you give me some links? I only
found companies that produce bronze grave markers.

Why would bench markers be brass but grave markers only bronze (not
brass)??

Janet


#9

Hi Andrew,

The cemetery in question is in Calif—here in Israel, there are no
restrictions and almost all markers are stone. My design has been
approved, and they accept markers from other companies, as long as
they satisfy the requirements. I think the bronze requirement is
simply because that is what their manufacturer (Mathews) uses.
Bronze has tin while brass has zinc, but the distinction is pretty
loose, and often the terms are used interchangeably.

I was interested in what process is regularly used to do the
changing part of the design (i.e. the lettering), or more
specifically, why that same process can’t be applied to ornaments
(e.g. flowers) as well as lettering. Isn’t it all computerized? My
design is pure vector with no relief, so it is easily converted to
computer generated machinery such as a milling machine. But I
believe they send out the graphics and get back a polymer template
of some sort which is then used in casting.

Bye for now,
J.


#10

Charles:

I was hoping for chemical info as regards bronze weathering better
than brass, as items like bells seem to weather pretty well…

Elaine:

A lot of cemeteries in the US nowadays require bronze plaques on a
granite base–both in standard, specified dimensions! I hate the
idea, as I think plain stone is much nicer, as well as easier and
consequently cheaper for a custom design. I like variety, the
cemetery likes uniformity…Some say the required restrictions allow
lawn mowers to go over the markers.

Janet in Jerusalem


#11

Glad you have the full specs Janet! I know how detailed they can be.

I have to apologize for not reading the google listings more
carefully yesterday. The ones I found for brass memorial markers
turned out to be those directory kind of sites that list every
possible variation on a theme… and the only actual brass products
turned out to be small plaques or signs, or pet memorials, but no
full-size grave markers in brass.

What I meant was the border design is a standard fixed design. The
only additions possible are the lettering, and occasionally a small
symbol (from their catalog) that can go between the dates. I have
never seen them made. No idea how it’s done… I’ve only worked with
taking the orders from the family and transmitting it to the bronze
company, and checking the order to make sure everything was correct.
But think mass production, not individual details…

(I’ll send you a link to a Youtube video of a plaque being cast so
you can see the general procedure. )

As far as why brass is used for wall plaques and signs… my best
guess is the shiny appearance of polished brass background with
engraving is preferred to the finish of cast bronze memorials where
only the raised portions are polished.

That’s about all I can help with!
Carol


#12
I was hoping for chemical info as regards bronze weathering better
than brass, as items like bells seem to weather pretty well.... 

Well a lot of bells are bronze you know, and some of the largest are
bronze, made from bell metal (a tin bronze alloy) which has a higher
percentage of tin in the mix.

Considering a lot of bells are housed, and not really exposed to the
elements, limiting the corrosive effects thereof.

Regards Charles A.