A major part of my two-year apprentriceship is not only designing and carving letters, but also learning how prepare and install the work I do. For most pieces done in stone (such as a plaque or a gravestone) this is known as fixing.
This past week Eric and I went out for our first fixing together. The task was to get a huge slate gravestone properly set in the ground of a lovely churchyard in Grantchester.
As this was a monolithic gravestone (a simple upright stone), the fixing was done in the traditonal method, which is very simple:
First, you mark out the approximate footprint of the stone, careful to line it up and place it appropriately with the stones around it, then you dig a neat slot in the ground. The height requirements for memorials (and, therefore, the depth you dig your slot) varies depending on where you are digging it - a churchyard vs a public cemetery, etc.
After you’ve dug your slot, you place two bricks on either side. This will act as a base for your gravestone to stand on. Everything is tweaked to make sure the every part is level.
Then you lower the stone in (mich easier said than done) and fill in the earth around it, careful to tamp it down as you go along. Voila! You have a fixed gravestone.
That’s three inches of slate and three pills of Ibuprofen when I got home.