What are rubbings and how to make copies of raised designs?

lf you want to preserve interesting or beautiful engraved, carved, or textured surfaces, copy them onto paper by rubbing. In rubbing, paper is placed over a surface and then rubbed with a crayon or other marking too. Sunken areas remain white: raised areas are duplicated on the paper.

Rubbings can be made of the designs on coins, decorative brasses, medals, tombstones, or buildings; or on natural items, such as leaves. Surfaces with finely detailed designs work best.

You can make a proof by doing a quick rubbing on plain wrapping paper, but do your final rubbing on high-quality oriental paper (available at art stores), charcoal paper, bristol board, or detail paper (found in architectural and drafting supply stores). Rubbing wax, available at art stores, is the easiest tool to use and gives the best results. The jumbo crayons designed for primary-school children can be used in cool weather, but they tend to melt in warm weather. Choose a dark color, remove the wrapping, and rub with the side of the crayon.

To make the rubbing, use a soft brush to clean the surface of any foreign matter, such as moss or dirt; gently remove stubborn spots with a gum eraser. Attach the paper to the surface with masking tape ad smooth the paper from the center out to avoid puckering. Rub slowly from the center of the paper out, using the fingers of your free hand to feel for flaws beneath the surface.

Once the design is worked lightly onto the paper, apply more pressure and work from the edges in. Try to get an even tone throughout. To remove the rubbing without tearing, peel the tape from the paper-not from the surface of the subject. Fill in missing areas by hand.