Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Guest Post: @TheNextMartha: Halloween epitaph winners are… (And tutorial)

Please welcome Jen (who you all know as @TheNextMartha on The Twitter) to the blog. She was kind enough to agree to do a guest post and announce her Annual Tombstone Epitaph Contest winners and show us how to make them too. I am a complete Halloween geek so I jumped at the chance. So, give a warm welcome to Jen!  *cheers*

Please stop by Jen's blog The Martha Project and show her some bloggy love will ya?

I had an epitaph contest on my blog and the winners are.....

In first place we have @moooooog35

In second place we have Woosel

With Honorable mentions going to:

@IHubby for “Here Lies Google+”

@FlyteAphrodite for “Justa Misty Stepmon Dancing to Reggae is Deadly”

So now you want your own right?

Pull up a chair and grab yourself some Styrofoam and a gas mask.


Polystyrene 2.0 inches minimum. (Hardware store comes in sheets of 4’x8’)

Hand saw blade

Sanding block

Printed out epitaph

Spray adhesive

Xacto knife

Wood burning tool with temp control

Black paint

Grey paint

Power drill with long screw bit

Dowel (metal or wood)

First decide the shape you want your tombstone and cut it out of the polystyrene using the hand saw. Don’t worry about rough edges, you’ll sand them later.

I’ve researched different shapes just by googling cemeteries and looking at the images.

Once you have your shape, decide on the epitaph. Again, you can Google epitaphs, humorous names, or hold your own contest. Wait. Don’t do that. I need all the help I can get.

(1) Then type the epitaph into a Word document using the Font and size that you want. If I am doing a name, I’ll make the name larger than the years or wording under it.

Anywhere from 125-200 font size is usually what I end up with.

(2) Print them out and then arrange them on the tombstone. Use spray adhesive on the back of the words and then place them

Now, this is the part that you might start to think “YOU DO WHAT?” and run from my crazy.

(3) Take your exacto knife and cut out each letter. Make sure to replace any “inner” letter parts. Like the e/b/o’s

Yes. You read that correctly.

Come back in a few hours when you’re done.

Now after that part, don’t you want to make like 10 more?

Moving on……

(4) Once you have the all the letters cut out you burn out the middles with a wood burner. You can see in #4 how the word “tomorrow” is melted out. The words above it not. The paper that you leave on created a stencil so it doesn’t burn through the foam letters. . I have the word burner plugged into a heat reducer and have it on 50%. Too hot and you’ll melt out of your borders. Too cold and it just won’t melt.

You might want to wear a mask. I usually try to do this on a breezy day out on my driveway. (Insert carcinogenic warning here) Some people use their exacto knives to completely cut out the middle, but I’ve never been successful that that part without ruining a letter or two.

(5) Once all the letters are melted into the Styrofoam leave the paper stencil on. Grab a paint brush and some black craft paint and paint in the letters.

(6) Before the paint is dry, peel off any paper stenciling. If you leave it to dry it, may stick and is hard to remove.

(7) Next sand down the edges using a sand paper block. I like nice rounded (aged) edges myself.

(8) Give the whole tombstone a coat of paint using a foam roller. By using foam and not pressing too hard you are able to roll over the letters and keep them black while covering any black outside the outline.

(9) You can stop at this point. Congratulations, you’ve made a tombstone. Unless…

You want to go an extra step.

I then take a brush and age it a little. You can use white, black, dark grey, green and I streak it until I get the look I want.

Sometimes I might even use a sponge to give it more texture.

To mount into the ground I drill through the bottom on both sides. I then stick a metal dowel (or wood but the wind snaps these on me) into the grass and then slide your tombstone over the dowels.

Now that you have a yard full of tombstones, let’s talk about lighting…….

Thanks again Jen for the tutorial and for visiting my little part of the internet. Won't be doing these this year because Miss Harper Moo is keeping me too busy but you can bet I'll be giving it a shot next year.

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