Workshops & Training

Gravestone preservation training workshops are conducted nationally by Jonathan Appell. Various training and workshop options are available including public workshops and private training to fit your needs.  

Jamestown, Virginia - Historic Site - Collaborating with staff at Jamestown
The Knight's Tomb Ledger - One of the oldest gravestones in America

Jonesboro, Arkansas - Gravestone Preservation Workshop
In collaboration with the state of Arkansas

There are very few opportunities to gain knowledge and acquire training regarding gravestone and monument conservation. The workshops which are available may be located at a considerable distance away. This makes it cost prohibitive for most groups, and limits the attendance to one or maybe two members. Most workshops will overview a few basic technique, but may not include the specific answers needed to get started or effectively plan a preservation project in your town or cemetery.

I can come to your cemetery or graveyard and effectively equip, train and mobilize your staff or group of volunteers to perform basic preservation procedures. I will use your local burying ground, to demonstrate and perform treatments, for all of the most common gravestone and monument preservation dilemmas, including cleaning, resetting tilted stones and rejoining fractured tablet stones which are so common throughout many parts of America.

I encourage photographing, taping, or filming important steps and procedures to provide a reference for future training or review. More advanced skills and techniques can also be overviewed or instructed, if the need exists, and time allows.

In the process of training your local group we will actually be restoring your local cemetery. Each stone we fix will diminish the future number of gravestones or monuments remaining to be conserved.

If you are unable or not ready to actually begin the preservation procedures, we can survey the grounds and plan for your future preservation project. I also provide training to enable your local group to survey the markers and monuments and learn to perform a accurate individual stone assessment. This is of paramount importance due to the constant loss of inscription and degradation of many gravestones. A proper documentation form including a photograph will allow future generations to view a gravestone and understand its history even if the actual stone is destroyed.

To inquire about workshops led by Jonathan, please contact us or visit these websites!  

A Typical Workshop

Led by Jonathan Appell

This outline will act as a general guideline for the content of a typical workshop hosted by Jon Appell. Due to the variability found in every graveyard, there are many unknown factors, which are impossible to predict. This can complicate and alter the time required to perform any specific task. Therefore, the exact time- table and schedule may be altered, but all of the techniques and treatments will be conducted, or if not possible discussed and demonstrated  during the course of the entire workshop.


Workshop Overview / Outline

Discussion on historic preservation with a focus on masonry, cemeteries and gravestones

  • A short walk and talk tour, visually surveying some of the most historic gravestones and monuments which are in need of repair. Topics will include:

    • Documentation and assessment

    • Basic geology relating to gravestones, monuments, and historic masonry.

    • Typical gravestone and monument styles and common problems associated with them will be discussed, including historic metal pinning, historic mortars, lawn mower issues

  • Cleaning demonstrations will include

    • Safe and effective removal of biological activity with D/2 Biological Solution

    • Graffiti removal with Elephant Snot and graffiti prevention discussion.

  • Overview for rust and lime / calcium removal from irrigation staining

  • Hands on! After the cleaning demonstration, workshop participants are encouraged to adopt a gravestone and perform the cleaning process

  • Veteran stones will be cleaned at each event

Each cemetery will have varying preservation needs, however we attempt to demonstrate the most common conservation treatments:

  • Join a fractured tablet

  • Raise and/or level a badly leaning, sunken or fallen tablet stone

    • How to repair fallen gravestones without inflicting further damage to the stone without any lifting equipment, provided they are not too massive is size.

  • Reset and join elements of a multiple piece monument

  • Problems associated with portland cement

    • Surface preparation of mating surfaces, removing old repair adhesives which have failed. Problems with removing hard and Portland Cement based mortars.

  • Historic pointing mortars, formulations, applications, curing

  • Lifting tripod: construction and demonstration

    • Understanding the lifting tripod, including chain hoists, slings and basic rigging safety issues when working with heavy weights

  • Infilling, creating mortars, color matching and application

  • Stone epoxies, pros and cons and proper mixing and application

  • Setting & re-setting of multiple piece monuments often composed from marble.

  • To pin or not to pin, that is the question.

  • Raising and leveling of base stones. Leverage and setting bar styles, sizes and usage.

  • Joining monumental elements. Options for joining monumental elements, traditional materials and techniques vs

  • Modern setting materials and techniques. Application and use of monument setting compound, stone epoxy used in mating application, the need for spacers between stone elements, issues with plastic spacers, advantages of wedge lead.

  • Rigging and resetting of a fallen multiple piece monument

  • Discussion on ferrous and non-ferrous metal pinning sometimes used historically to mate stone elements

  • How to use pads and softs to protect stone


Workshop Logistics:

  • *Sometimes* Each attendant will receive a folder of printed materials

  • The workshop will be a hands on, interactive event

  • You are welcome to tape, photograph or video the workshop as desired

  • All tools and materials are provided

  • Please dress for working outdoors as weather can be variable

  • Bring gloves, wear sturdy shoes to work in

  • Sun and bug spray if desired