Friday, February 6, 2009

Styrofoam Graves – Lettering

Continuing the series Graves – the following steps are done after the basic shape is cut, sanded, and prepped.

1.  Who and what:  There are a few sites on the internet that give you Names and/or Epitaphs.  For my first round, I relied on Haunters Hangout for ideas.  After a few, I wanted to make mine different, so I started using my kids names (they became neighborhood stars) then characters from movies that scared me most.  Regan MacNeil scared me the most – Linda Blair in the Exorcist.  Also, find an English to Latin translator via Google.  I looked up Dead by Dawn (I’m Dawn… get it?!!) and this was what I got  Halloween thru Christmas 2008 063 Mortuus per Dilucuolo.  I loved telling people what it meant when they asked.

2.  Fonts/lettering.  You can print out your names, dates, epitaph in any creepy or calligraphy font you wish.  If your printer runs out, and you spent the entire 90s decade scrapbooking, (or otherwise have REAL talent) then you can freehand it, such as I did on ol’ Regan up there.  Printed computer fonts work much better, but anything can work in a pinch.

7.  Get it on the foam.  Transfer letters to foam in same manner as was done with the transferring of the shape.    (Carving the outline of the letters - this is also seen in the picture above)  Make sure that you cut out the inside of letters like o, p, d, b, etc. so that they don’t get lost when cutting out the outer edges.

8.  My favorite part.  Carve the inside of the lettering with either an Exacto blade (making angels to simulate cut marble) or a Dremel. 

Halloween2 026 This was done with the Exacto blade

I don’t have a pic with the Dremel’d letters, but it is a lot smoother inside.  (It didn't really make a difference to me how it looked – Xacto vs Dremel, because once you paint it, the side by side comparison looked about the same… but the Dremel just went so much faster for me personally… and its fun!

*Note.  I didn’t follow everyone’s SMART advice, and did not wear a mask.  I had just finished Dremeling out my third grave in a row (I work in assembly line style) and literally got sick from inhaling all of the pink dust, so if yakking in the driveway is not your style, either wear a mask, or don’t do a monster carving marathon. 

9.  If you have any additional pieces to glue on (such as the wood cross in the picture at the top of this post) then go ahead and do it now, so it can be drying with the paint in the next step.

9.  Paint lettering black.   (Or dark contrast color of your choice) I used a brush, and didn’t worry to much about going outside the edges, but try not to go overboard on the flat surface, or it will be harder to cover.  Halloween thru Christmas 2008 012

10.  Painting remaining surface.  I used a small paint roller and painted the grave gray, or white… if you roll lightly over the lettering, it wont get into the letter grooves, but I still had to touch up most lettering a bit after the roller. 

11.  Marble anyone?  If you want to marble at this point, take a sea sponge, kitchen sponge, wadded up saran wrap, anything (Honey, stay out of my kitchen towel drawer!!!) and sponge on any contrasting color you like.  If you don’t like the way it looks, roller over it with your solid color and start again… just make sure you sponge when the paint is “fairly” wet, so it will blend in better.  If the base coat is TOO wet, or has a lot of paint, it will not come out either, because it will just blend ALL THE WAY in. 

12. Texture?  Throw some sand (err, I had corn meal in abundance, and that worked fine too) onto the grave, then paint over.  Or be lazy like me and just sprinkle it in your roller tray with the paint ;)   Or you can also use Monster mud and spread it on like icing Halloween2 003 which just reminded me why I did this – the back of this one was white beaded styrofoam, and showed every dimple.  I did this to cover that up.

11.  Weathering/Aging.  I really only used the paint brush to do my aging this year, but this year I expect to be experimenting with the water bottle and woodburner, things like that.  I just used black and green paints, dry brushed in a sweeping motion from top down, and then on the sides.  I also drug the paint brush down from letters.    

   Halloween thru Christmas 2008 358 Halloween thru Christmas 2008 221 Halloween thru Christmas 2008 343 Halloween thru Christmas 2008 344

For some excellent info on weathering/aging here are a few of my favorites:

Spooky Blue - Amazing results

Keeba's (Awesome techniques)

Wolfstone - More interesting techniques

Blackstone - beautiful graves


And later – the only arena that I can excel in over other Bloggers – the “what not to do to your graves” category.  Stay tuned for a good laugh… or if you are me, a good cry   ;)


Diane said...

i've always wanted to do this! how cute to make everyone in the family their own grave! (i can only say that to someone like you, ya know?!)

Anonymous said...

Haha, yes Diane... that statement WOULD be something that only us in the Halloween obsessed category would understand!!

Funny part is, when I first read it, I didn't think a THING of it, til you pointed out how weird it sounds, then I cracked up!

suzanne said...

They look great! I made a few tombstones just before Halloween last year but ran out of time (as usual!)before I could add much detail. I'll be attempting to improve them this year.

Can't wait for your "what NOT to do" advice :D

Grim said...

I bought a router attachment for my dremel, that helped a LOT with my tombstones.

Bobbi Morton said...

Thanks for this bblog post


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