How to Make a Grave Rubbing

Discover the ancient art of gravestone rubbing to record beautiful headstone images or to enhance your genealogy studies. It only takes a few simple tools and you're on your way.

You will need

  • Permission
  • Water
  • Soap
  • Paper
  • Masking tape
  • Pencil
  • Spray fixative
  • Newsprint
  • rice paper
  • or vellum tissue (optional)

Step 1 Obtain permission Obtain permission for making gravestone rubbings from cemetery authorities. Then show respect by learning and following cemetery rules.

Step 2 Choose a headstone Choose a headstone in good condition with clearly cut lines, but not deep lines, for the best results.

Step 3 Clean the stone Clean the stone. Remove dirt, grime, and stains to create the best possible gravestone rubbing, remembering to use only plain soap and water.

Step 4 Cover with paper Cover the headstone with paper, using masking tape to secure the paper to a large stone.

Step 5 Rub Rub the pencil gently across the paper over the headstone’s engraved area, focusing on lines and features you want to capture, and continuing until you are satisfied with the rubbing.

Step 6 Remove paper Remove the paper from the headstone, and then spray it with a fixative to avoid smudging. Now your image is ready for display or to serve as a documentation of history.