Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The evolution of bronze memorials

By Ethan Darby, Director of Business Development 

Families have been memorializing their loved ones for as long as there have been records of civilization. Memorials serve as more than a symbol to honor where a person has been laid to rest. Memorials serve as a link to our ancestors to help us learn more about our family history. For centuries, memorialization has helped satisfy the human desire to remember those who have died and to be remembered by those who remain.

The past…
When bronze memorials were first introduced to consumers, they were very basic, displaying only names and dates with a very simple border design. Most manufacturers didn’t have the technology to incorporate color, images or detailed border art to the designs. And the options for memorial protection were slim to none.

Although these early memorials captured vital information, families insisted on a better way to tell the story of their loved ones’ lives. And so, companies made the first attempts to incorporate images and intricate designs on bronze. Unfortunately, these early attempts resulted in porous and grainy images with very little detail.

Technology advanced, and the options for personalizing bronze memorials grew. Emblems, images and border art became the norm, but precise details of faces were sometimes lost because of the limitations of the manufacturing process.

…the present…
Today, families want even more control and input in the design of bronze memorials. They want their loved ones’ memorials to have character, passion and personality. Thanks to computers and smartphones, consumers are used to creating full-color images on their own electronic devices. They expect memorials to do the same.

What bronze memorials are available to meet these expectations? Many companies are still utilizing traditional bronze casting to create beautiful memorials, but there is another more detailed option available called direct-to-metal. With this technology, memorial craftsmen can create exact replicas of images in solid bronze, capturing every important detail. You can run your hand across the 3-D relief and feel the curls in a loved one’s hair and the wrinkles in their clothing. The families you serve can capture one favorite picture or a gallery full of different images to tell a life story.

And to add another dimension, families can add color to their bronze memorials. Companies are using state-of-the-art color imaging equipment capable of capturing the exact color of their loved one’s hair or their perfect shade of lipstick. With the addition of color, family photographs seem to come to life, helping families honor their memories.

There have also been advancements in protection for classic and color memorial designs. Most companies cover their bronze memorials with a clear coating to protect it from fading and the elements. The clear coat is baked onto the memorials to seal it in a protective shell, protecting the beauty and detail of a family’s unique memorial for years to come.

…and, the future.
Is this enough? Today, families carefully select words of endearment and a handful of pictures to tell the story of someone’s entire life.

What is progressive and contemporary today will more than likely be the norm – or even outdated – in a few decades. Who knows? Maybe there will be digital, solar powered memorials that display recordings of the person’s life in the future. As long as our need to be remembered evolves, I believe the memorial will continue to evolve as well.

Ethan Darby is the Director of Business Development for Trigard Memorials and is a member of the Darby family’s fourth generation. His family owns Trigard, Trigard Memorials, a memorial park and seven funeral homes across Illinois, Indiana and Arizona.

This article originally appeared in the June issue of The Director

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