How To Make Rubbings
Learn how to make rubbings! Copying a raised design is simple when you use a process known as rubbings.
Copying a raised design is simple when you use a process known as rubbings. Many people make rubbings of grave markers when searching out their family tree but rubbings can be used for other reasons. Any time you desire to preserve and interesting or beautifully engraved, carved or textured surface, they can be copied onto paper by rubbing.
This process is done by placing paper over the surface you wish to copy and then rubbing the paper with a crayon, artist chalk or other marking tools. When you do this the sunken areas remain white allowing the raised areas to be duplicated on the paper. In most cases even raised text that is difficult to read can be brought out by producing a rubbing. Coins, medals, decorative brasses or even leaves make beautiful rubbings. The best surfaces to work with are those with finely detailed designs, but by using your imagination you can come up with all types of great designs. Since this process is simple to do, even children can join in the fun.
To begin you can practice by using any type of paper or rubbing tool. Even plain wrapping paper and a pencil will work well while you get your technique down. But when you are ready to make your final rubbing you should purchase a high quality oriental paper, charcoal paper, detailed paper or bristol board. These can be found at a local art store, architectural supply store or drafting supply store. For a practice rubbing you can use a crayon or pencil but when you are doing the final proof, purchase rubbing wax from your local art store. This is the easiest tool to use for rubbings and it will give you the best results. For young children jumbo crayons will work well during the cooler months but remember that during the warmer months they tend to melt. Always choose a dark color of rubbing wax or what ever your tool of choice is. Completely remove the wrapping and rub with the side of the tool.
Before you start your rubbing you will need to use a soft brush to clean the surface you are planning to rub. Make sure any moss or dirt is completely removed. If you find stubborn spots you can use a gum eraser to remove them. Use masking tape to hold the paper on the surface and as you are taping smooth the paper from the center out to prevent puckering. Begin your rubbing at the center of the paper and work outward slowly. Use the fingers of your free hand to feel for flaws beneath the surface as you rub. When the design has been worked lightly onto the paper, apply more pressure and work from the edges to the center trying to get an even tone throughout the design or text. When you are satisfied with the over all tone of the design or text, remove the rubbing by peeling the tape from the paper instead of from the surface of the subject you are working from. This will help you remove the rubbing without tearing the paper. Once the rubbing is removed, look at the design and compare it to your rubbing. If you find areas that appear to have missing spots, fill these in by hand.