Contact Me

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween Tombstones Making and on the Cheap

My front yard several years ago

halloween 2007

The tombstones cost me $0. In the stores the cost of a tombstone can be as high as $25. I made 8 several years ago. The tombstones did not cost me $200 in labor or scrounged material. This was taken with my old camera. Somehow, I copied them, lost the originals, and copied the copies. However, it still looks spooky this way.

I worked on this post for eight hours, trying to move pictures. I know how to do this, but I think my failures were part of the blog problems I am having. Of course, after about six hours, my foggy brain could have been a large part of the problem. You should be able to do something similar for a few dollars if not free, like mine. I am so sorry for the lack of order in the pictures. But, between chicken and raccoon problems, it is hard to This post was started two weeks ago! Okay, posting this before Halloween Night.


The styrofoam I found years before is soft feeling with a very solid surface. Last night when I went to the same place and brought home two pieces that were the hard, scratchy, and very porous type of styrofoam. It is exactly like the kind that I have used since the sixties for crafts. Either type should work with varying results. However, the soft kind is what I used for this, not the scratchy, porous, hard-feeling type.

Cheap steak knife works

Now, you have a mark on which to cut. Perfection in the cut is not necessary.

This step comes before the cutting. Sorry for the out-of-order pictures. 

I had gone Trick or Treat with a friend who was taking his children and grandchildren. After that, nothing would suit me but to have tombstones so I could make a cemetery in my front yard the next year. Here is how I did $0 dollars spent. I purchased the paint for this project...$5 mistint gallon at Lowe's. I only used a cupful so there is still little consumed dollarwise. The paint has been used for other projects. Don't wait until Halloween to look for the proper mistint. I purchased this in the summer for another project.
Still, nothing was spent.

Material list
steak knife
yardstick or any straight edge substitute
pen or pencil
plate or circular object
paint brush
old bricks
a twig, vines

Styrofoam was obtained from trash at appliance store.

A dull steak knife works fine for me.

You will need something straight. Even a stick or heavy cardboard without markings works. Just make a mark on the stick to show you distance. EX--I marked down 2.5 inches on my second cut. I don't need to know the inches, just a visual mark for distance.

Anything to mark a line in the styrofoam will work as long as you can see the indentation made on the styrofoam. I used a Sharpie so you could see the marks. Don't go buy one!

Usually, I have a kitchen dinner plate. But, the white plate on white styrofoam on white picnic table was not visually right for a clear picture. That's why there is a pink striped tablecloth on the picnic table...just for the visual effect. Using several circular objects of different sizes helps to create the shape of the tombstone.

Never use a good paint brush like I have shown in the picture. I used either an old, stiff, useless paint brush or one of the cheap foam craft brushes that had seen better days. The styrofoam has little pieces that escape. You do not want to transfer that to a brush or a good bucket of paint.

I did not bring out my gallon of paint to photograph. Transfer some of the paint to something else. A yogurt container or disposable pie pan will work fine.  I used paint I found cheap at the Lowe's mis-tint table--semigloss interior paint. I wanted black. However, the paint I purchased was so close to black, sort of a dark gray with a greenish tint. It was perfect. Semi-gloss does not photograph well. But, at night it was of little consequence.

I used cheap or old bricks. Ones without the holes are best. These hold up the tombstone and add an air of authenticity by forming a base like many tombstones have. Bricks need only to be painted on the top, front, and ends. Picture the brick lying on its broad side, just like it would like in building something of brick. Use two bricks in front and one behind each tombstone. This makes a great anchor for the styrofoam. One night, one of the tombstones leaned back because a tiny limb fell and knocked it askew. Actually, the leaning tombstone looked authentic. You only need to paint the brick surfaces that will be seen. I used one in back and two in front. When the tombstones sag forward or backwards. But, that only adds to the oldness, the creepiness, and the disrepair to you spooky graveyard.

Votives should not be left unattended at any time. It might be wiser to purchase the votives with a battery rather than burn down your house or have a child's costume burn. I only leave my display out for one evening and never leave it unattended. Any source of flame should be removed or brought inside each night if you intend to leave these out overnight.

Picture Tutorial

finished tombstone and fresh piece of styrofoam--about 25" x 16"

This is two steps here.   At the top of the picture below, you can see a mark. Well, this mark is 1/2 of 11.5 inches... 5 3/4 inches. Make a mark that far down on the top of the styrofoam. Then, use your circular object and mark around it and down to the mark.

If there is any foil or paper on yours like was on mine, peel it off. The foil just happened to peel in a circular pattern that has nothing to do with the final shape of the tombstone.  

There will not be any pictures of my painting the tombstone. As you can see from the picture of the painted one, the one on the picnic table, streaks are a good thing.

If you follow this tutorial, even remotely, tell me about your results. Do you have a frugal tombstone decorating scheme for Halloween that involves a free display?

No comments:

Post a Comment

For the present, I am taking comment moderation off the blog.