Steve, I got this information from Cyndi's List:
Thought it was very interesting &should answer your questions. Good Luck in your research!Libby
Please note this practice has been banned in some states and in many cemeteries due to the damage it can cause to the stone.Many cemeteries now ask for permits before you are allowed to do rubbings. We strongly advise tocheck this information out in advance, if at all possible.
Without question, when it comes to recording inscriptions, one of the most demanding problems is when the stone has become so weathered over time that the lettering becomes almost impossible to read. Tombstone rubbings have been commonly used for many years as one of the primary methods for the preservation of a stone's inscription.The following information is designed to show how to do a tombstone rubbing safely, and when to use an alternative method of documentation.
Metallic brushes are entirely too harsh, and they also leave particles on the surface of the stone that can rust.
At least one large sponge
You may also want to bring a small spray bottle of water for gently cleaning dirt and debris from the stone. The spray bottle, should contain only water
and not detergent or chemicals of any kind that woulddamage and further erode the stone's material. You might want to use Photo Flo, whichis made by Kodak and used in photo developing. Mix one capfull per gallon of water. Wash stone with solution, then rinse stone with clean water. Use brush
Towel or old rags
Used to kneel on or clean polished granite stones. Launder them first, but do NOT use fabric softener. The softener will affect their ability to absorb liquids as well as cutting down on the "magnetism" for dirt and dust.
Bring along a sample size of antibacterial waterless hand cleaners or wipes.
Masking or drafting tape
Scissors or retractable razor knife
To cut paper or trim tall grass around the base of a stone
Hand-held grass clippers -for getting close to the stones. Do NOT use weed whacker type trimmers as thesecan scar the stones. For site clearing/cleaning, a pair of pruning shears or hedge clippers is also helpful for brush that is too thick to rip out or cut with grass clippers, but not thick enough to bother with a chain saw.
Most monument companies will supply you with a special blue paper. It contains wax in it and is designed for doing rubbings of gravestones. The important thing about this paper is not to let it get hot,as the wax will melt and then the paper will not make good rubbings. If you cannot find this paper,plain white paper, butcher paper, rice paper or Pellon will work. Tissue paper transfers easily, however, it is very fragile. You may want to take your rubbing papers of choice, already cut to size, with you from home at the start of your trip, carrying them in a mailing tube. If you wish to accommodate any size tombstone, you could take a (partial/whole) roll of butcher paper, tearing off what you need for each tombstone.
These include rubbing wax, black crayon charcoal and colored (kids') sidewalk chalk.With either charcoal or chalk, insure that a fixative is used.Be sure that your medium will in no way leave any residue on the stone.
Fixative, such as Tuffilm Final Fixative made by Grumbacher, can be purchased at any crafts store.Try to use a matte finish if possible. Make sure it is NON-YELLOWING.
Cardboard tube or art portfolio for storing clean paper and finished prints.
Pencil and Notepad to record information about the stone or cemetery location.
The Memorabilia Corner of Norman, Oklahoma offers a number of a number of these supplies for sale over the internet as a part of their store website.
Gravestone Artwear offers a basic gravestone rubbing kit for sale.
In addition, you will want to also look at taking along the following safety items:
Drinking water - plan to bring at least several quarts of water with you for drinking , apart from the water you use for washing the stones.
Gloves - Both work gloves and rubber gloves.
First Aid kit
Bee and wasp spray
Antibacterial liquid soap and or waterless instant hand sanitizer
Protective hand lotion
IvyBlock (for poison ivy, oak and sumac)
Practice on a rock at home, or check with a local monuments store to see if you can practice on one of their tombstones, before going to the cemetery.
As mentioned at the top of this page, before you start check with the cemetery or with the state or local Historical Society to learn if tombstone rubbings are permissible.This practice has been banned in some states and cemeteries due to the damage it can cause.
In the case of cemeteries located on private property, remember that you are doing rubbings on someone else's property. It is ALWAYS advised to gain permission by attempting tospeak with the property owner, and explain want you want to do,BEFORE you begin.If you do not get permission, please respect the wishes of the cemetery and ask if you can take a photograph to record the information and condition of the stone. If you find that a gravestone is severely damaged, please notify the property owner or supervisor of the cemetery.
AT THE CEMETERY
Be sure that the tombstone that you have chosen is completely stable.If it is wobbly or the surface is crumbling, then DO NOT do a rubbing.Take a photograph instead. Lightly rap on the stone; if it has a "hollow" sound, DO NOT use this stone to make a rubbing because it is vulnerable to accidental damage.
CLEANING THE STONE
Before starting, all surfaces of the stone should be checked. If there is any question as to the stone's condition, do not attempt to clean it, as the surface could be irreparably damaged in the process.
Start with a test patch of your proposed cleaning technique on an area of the structure that is least visible.
The stone surface should be thoroughly pre-soaked with water.
Thoroughly wash with plain water the pre-wetted stone with natural, soft bristled (natural or nylon), wooden-handled brushes of various sizes. The use of plastic handles is not recommended, as colors from the handles may leave material on the stone that will be very difficult to remove. Wire brushes, metal instruments and abrasive pads may give you instant satisfaction but, if you clean with anything that is harder than the stone, you risk scratching the face of the stone and causing more damage in the long run. Be thorough. Wash all surfaces. Scrub the stone from the bottom up to avoid further streaking and staining. Always watch carefully to make sure that none of the stone’s surface is eroding as you scrub. Rinse thoroughly, with lots of clean water.
Keep the stone wet at all times; really wet. Where a garden hose is not available, be sure to bring plenty of jugs of water and keep dousing the stone as you work and, most importantly, flush the stone well when done.
Remove bird droppings, dirt moss, lichen etc. from the stone if possible. This will insure clear and sharp copy. If lichen is a problem, you can scrape with a wooden or plastic scraper. Tongue blades or craft sticks work well. Also, inexpensive plastic putty scrapers from home stores work well. Remember, no metal. If you have any trouble getting any of these materials off the stone, STOP and be sure that you do not cause any damage the stone in your attempt to clean it.
If used, do not allow detergent solutions to dry on the stone while cleaning.
Some stains in porous stones cannot be removed. Do not expect the stones to appear new after cleaning.
Do not clean marble, limestone, or sandstone more than once every 18 months. These types of stone may occasionally be rinsed with clean water to remove bird droppings and other accretions. Granite can be cleaned as needed.
RUBBING THE STONE
Make sure the stone is clean and completely dry.Tape will not adhereto a wet stone, and the dampness will make the paper fragile and liable to tear.Besides ruining any chance of a rubbing, this may cause you to accidentally damage the stone with your rubbing material.
Cut a piece of white paper to a size slightly larger than the stone. If possible, write any information on or about the stone, inscription, date, location, etc. on the back of the paper before doing the rubbing so you don't smear your rubbing. Or, carry a small notebook, write the information on a page, tear out and roll up with your rubbing.
Tape the paper to the stone.Make sure that it is secure so that it won't slide as you are rubbing and cause a blurred image, and that it covers the face of the stone completely, so that you won't get marks on it.
If only doing lunettes, please be sure that a large enough area is covered to protect the stone.
With your fingers, press the paper lightly against the stone.This will cause the paper to indent into the carvings, resulting in a clearer image, with less rubbing medium accidentally transferring into "blank" areas.
Using rubbing wax, a large crayon, charcoal, or chalk, gently start to rub along the outside edges - creating a "frame" for your rubbing.Usinglong, even strokes following the same direction, fill in the "frame".
Rub lightly to start with, and then apply more pressure to darken in the design if it suits you. Be very careful and gentle.
If you used chalk for your rubbing, then carefully spray the paper with a chalk spray such as Krylon.Be very careful not to get any on the tombstone. It is best to remove the paper from the stone and lay it flat on the ground in an area away from any stones before spraying.
When the rubbing is done, carefully remove it from the tombstone and trim the edges to suit your liking. Remove the tape from the paper, being careful not to tear the edges of the paper.
If you have a general idea as to the size of the stones that you will be rubbing, you could pre cut your rubbing papers of choice at home and carry them in a paper or plastic mailing tube.This way you will have your transportation problem solved prior to starting your trip.
Art portfolios used to transport drawings/oils/pastels, etc. are great for storage and transportation of rubbings that need to be laid flat. These can be somewhat expensive, but are well worth it if you plan to do this over a long period of time. They have a handle and zipper, can be locked,and are great for traveling on planes or long trips. Cheaper portfolios, made of lightweight cardboard and having only an elastic-band or wound-string closure, can also be used for short-term storage, when you will be handling the package yourself and don't need to worry about it being mishandled by a baggage attendant.
Take along a roll of kitchen waxed paper to go between each rubbing which will reduce or prevent smudging until you get home.
If you bring your fixative with you, please take into account that any aerosol type of can, especially one containing flammables, is liable to confiscation by airlines, as it is dangerous tocarry such materials aboard a plane.
PRESERVING THE RUBBING
Once you get your rubbings home and wish to preserve them in their original state, use an aerosol adhesive product. Two sets of tweezers (found in "beading" section of art supply) should be used to manipulate the rubbing (paper) onto acid-free mat board, available at most art supply stores. Carefully line up the bottom edge ofthe rubbing paper with the bottom edge of the board, then gently smooth the paper upward onto the board using light pressure with a roller.Be sure to keep the paper taut to prevent creasing or wrinkling.
If you wish to further preserve rubbings applied to mat board, apply the board to foam core, which is stiff enough to withstand just about any handling.Make sure the foam core is also acid-free, or it will contaminate the mat board over time.
If you choose to frame your rubbings, be sure the framer includes "spacers" between the paper and the glass, to enable the paper to "breathe", and prevent damage from condensation or mildew.