I’m a big Halloween enthusiast and every year I decorate my yard with props and decorations I’ve bought and some I’ve made. You can make pretty much anything out of foam. Today, I’m going to teach you how to make a couple of the things that I typically make every year.
My favorite things to make are tombstones. I’ve been doing them for years, adding more and more techniques to make them better, but today I’m going to stick with the very basic. First, you’ll need a sheet of pink insulation styrofoam. You can use the white, beaded stuff, it’s definitely cheaper. I just find the pink sturdier and easier to work with and it gives it an overall more realistic look. They can both be found at any hardware store. They come in different sizes, so get whichever thickness you would prefer (that’s what she said), but I go for the 1 1/2″. Cut it out in whatever shape you want using a jigsaw or a hacksaw or a knife or whatever. Then carve out your epitaph using either a wood burning tool or a dremel. The dremel requires a much steadier hand than I have and I’ve been finding in much more difficult to work with then I had heard it would be. But either way, wear a mask. If you use the wood burner, the smoke will kill your lungs. If you use the dremel, bits of dust will get in your nose and eyes. It’s best to print out what you want the tombstone to say and then trace over the paper with a pen before you start carving. Otherwise, if you’re like me, you run out of space or everything ends up crooked. If you want to add any cracks to it, add those in at this point as well.
On to painting! There are two different ways to paint.
1) There is a spray-paint that has a textured stone look to it and that’s what I used to use. It’s made by American Accents and says “stone textured finish” on the can. If you’re going to go that route, make sure you hold the can as far away as you can and spray slowly, otherwise it eats right through the foam. A little bit is fine, because real stones would be damaged anyway, but you don’t want the whole thing to be burned right through.
2) The second method gives it a more aged look. Paint the whole thing with black paint (exterior paint). One coat should do it, but if you see pink coming through, go ahead and throw on a second coat, and make sure to get into the cracks of the epitaph and any other marks you’ve made. Then when it’s dry, you want to dry-brush over it with a light to mid grey paint. To dry-brush, you dip the brush in the paint and then wipe most of it off before painting. This way it only leaves light streaks allowing the black to still be seen. It’s really a personal preference how thick you want that top layer to be though. You also can simply paint it any color of grey you want and forget the dry-brush step. Most tombstone making really does come down a personal preference.
Once that is dry, if you want to touch up inside the epitaph or make it a different color, just take a small brush and work the paint in there. And you’re done!
The easiest way to stick it in the ground is just to cut off a bit of wire hanger about 6 -8 inches long. You’ll want 2 of them, one for each end of the tombstone. Make sure they’re as straight as you can get them, and then stick them halfway into the ground and put the tombstone on top of it. Make sure you push in slowly, because the hangers go rogue and will end up poking through the front or back and you’ll get a bad case of the sad face.
Faux wood signs are another fun thing I like to make. Again, I would suggest the pink foam for this. I’ve never tried using the white for this particular project, but I think it would be too beady. As with the tombstones, cut out the size and shape you want. Then fold up a piece of sandpaper and drag it along to make the lines, marks, and knots that wood would have. You can make the grooves deep or shallow or everything in-between. Whatever you think looks good. When you’re done, paint it whatever color you want (again, exterior paint if you expect to be keeping it outside). After it dries, paint on any words you want, and you’re done! You can stick it in the ground on a piece of hanger just like with the tombstones, or attach a string and hang it from something.
So, that’s pretty simple. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.
You can also make pretty much anything from foam. I don’t have the skills to do so, but it is kind of amazing what can be done.