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I like to visit cemeteries every now and then. In the early years, when I only did one-of-a-kind carvings from rough quarry stones, I studied the wonderful stone carvings in cemeteries. Here you could find everything from grand monuments to modest little family plots. My favorite cemetery is near Bedford, Indiana. This is the home of Indiana limestone. Near the turn of the century, Indiana limestone was an extremely popular building material. It was used extensively on churches and government buildings.
Any time you see a soft colored gray stone on a building, especially if it has lettering carved into it, there is a good chance it came from Bedford. What makes the little Bedford cemetery special is that it is the final resting place for many of the stone carvers and their families. Many were immigrants that had come from Europe. These were tough people, working in tough times, with little or no extra money. When a carver or family member passed, a friend or relative probably carved the headstone. As a result, there are highly personalized headstones that range from a full size carver's bench, complete with tools and half-finished stone, to delicate angel images on the graves of young children.
During that period of my career, I was honored to carve several headstones for families that were familiar with my work. After that experience, I study headstones more closely and appreciate the thought and emotion that goes into designing and carving these incredible objects. Every detail must be perfect.
Although I no longer carve headstones, many of my cast stone images are used as bereavement gifts. Some are placed in cemeteries either on or near the headstone. Others are used in flower arrangements or sent as gifts. Again, I feel very honored to have designs chosen for such an important occasion. Below are some images that are frequently chosen. Oftentimes, an image more specific to the individual is used. Either way, these weather resistant sculptures are a lasting tribute, whether used in a cemetery or flower garden.