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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Houston, Texas, USA
    Posts
    4,861

    Default Cheap graveyard columns - cardboard!

    Here is my walkthrough for building cardboard columns. I have a smallish sized yard, and I wanted some smallish sized columns to go with my wire fence, and my solution was to use materials I either already had on hand or as cheap as possible.

    Materials:
    Large cardboard boxes (sized according to how many/how big you choose to make them)
    Glue (I used wood glue, but use whatever you have on hand that is strong and water proof)
    Something to weight the columns down as they are drying
    twine or string to hold the column together as it's drying
    Xacto/box knife
    silicone caulk (I had white on-hand, color doesn't make any difference)
    paint (had it on-hand)
    Styrofoam (however thick you want - use what you have)

    I made my columns 3 feet tall, 6 inches square. That worked with the scale of my yard/fence.

    First step is to measure out and mark the four sides and the height on a piece of cardboard. I used a metal straight ruler to mark out all the sides, and then used an Xacto knife to cut out the column form (the solid red lines, and then cut through ONE layer of the cardboard on the corners (dotted lines).


    Bend the cardboard along the edges that you cut through one layer of - first in the opposite direction from the cut to form a good fold, then back towards it. You want the cuts to form a 90 degree angle for each corner, but have the cut side on the inside of the form so the outside is unbroken (less to seal if it's on the inside).

    Once you have your column squared off, you can use the glue along the edge and tie it off tight with the twine and then set heavy stuff on top of it so the entire edge is in contact with the glue surface.


    Once it's dry, you should have something that looks like this:


    Cardboard square column that is hollow at both ends. Use caulk to fill in if there are any big gaps.

    Using styrofoam, measure off a square however large as will look good for the top. I used a cheap 1" styro from Michaels, and making them 8 inches square allowed me to get 2 tops from each sheet of foam (the sheet was about 18 x 20 inches for $5 each)


    Using the glue, attach the foam to one of the ends. Use the flattest end, as the bottom of the column doesn't have to be flat. I set them upside down to dry. Once it is dry, use the caulk to seal all of the edges and smooth the transition.


    Paint time - use whatever you have on hand, but do make sure it's latex or acrylic so it acts as a seal against weather. I did a base coat of medium gray with mortar mix mixed in for texture, applied with a brush. I let that dry and came back over the edges and such with black. Make sure to get all of the outside covered well with paint.


    I chose to use pumpkins for the column finials. I found paper maché pumpkins at Michaels, but I was also considering skulls as well (which would definitely look pretty cool). I cut faces into the pumpkins, alternating happy/scary traditional faces.


    Paint the finials to match the columns - the point is for them to blend into the column's construction and look like a cohesive piece. I also painted the insides of the pumpkins with red to enhance the glow of the flicker lights.


    I still plan to get some heavy tinted cellophane/acrylic sheet to glue inside behind the face cutouts to hide/conceal the lights (allowing the light to shine through, but obscuring the interior of the pumpkins) but that's for today and I'll update when/if I get around to it.

    I put these up by hammering in two picket stakes into the ground and snugging the column over them. Adjust the stakes to make sure you get a tight fit, and they stay put even with people touching them. The columns stand up to light weather conditions, but would need heavier paint (especially inside) if you have heavy rain/snow. If we get a downpour in my area, it's actually pretty simple to go pull them off the stakes and stick them in the garage until the weather improves.

    I had most of these material on hand, having only to buy the pumpkins and the foam cappers. Total cost for me (even counting the on-hand materials) is under $5 per column.
    I'm a Halloween Bride! 10/31/2002

    Where there is no imagination there is no horror.
    ~Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Dudley, MA
    Posts
    555
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default

    Hi Frankie's Girl,
    That came out pretty cool, the pumpkins are a nice touch. The skulls that you were going to use were they also paper mache from Michael's as well, and the calk you use is it a silicon base?
    All those... moments... will be lost in time, like tears... in... rain. Time... to die...
    ~ Roy Batty Blade Runner

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Houston, Texas, USA
    Posts
    4,861

    Default

    I'm not sure where I would have gotten the skulls, I saw several plastic ones and foam ones that would have been sized right for my columns - not just at Michaels. I have not come across paper mache ones, unfortunately.

    Silicone caulk, check. Waterproof.

    thanks!
    I'm a Halloween Bride! 10/31/2002

    Where there is no imagination there is no horror.
    ~Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Houston, Texas, USA
    Posts
    4,861

    Default

    And to finish this out...

    I placed a red acetate screen to obscure interior but allow light through - tissue paper added behind to increase opacity. I measured and cut out a rough square of acetate and test fit it inside the pumpkin, then I pulled it back out and rubber cemented the tissue paper to the acetate and popped it back in. Attached with a few drops of glue from the glue gun.



    and a no-flash shot to show the flicker candle glow


    The flicker looks amazing - the red acetate glows orange from the flicker candle, and there is no need to actually paint the inside since the tissue paper obscures the interior enough to where you can't see anything but the glowing light.

    I bought a 20 x 24 inch sheet for $5 at an artist's supply store, and it will be enough to finish out 8 pumpkins with some left over. The tissue paper was the plain white kind you use for stuffing gift bags.

    I am going to attach each pumpkin to the column with a bit of hot glue so that I can pop them off for storage. I want them to be on there well enough to deter the casual passerby, but easy to remove without damage.

    These columns were originally meant as a temporary placement, but I'm thinking that they are so cheap and easy to build, that if I loose any, it would be really simple to replace one. Outside and in the blue/green lighting I use for my graveyard, you can't tell they are cardboard - the foam capper sparkles like granite, and the column looks like concrete or dull stone. I stop mowing my yard well enough to where the grass covers the bottoms of the columns so they don't have to fit perfectly flush with the ground, and if they lean a bit, it just added character and an aged and falling-down look that worked well.

    I know there are plenty of projects out there that are much more finished looking, but I like doing some of these projects down and dirty just to see how good I can get something to look with no budget - and this came out quite satisfactory!
    Last edited by Frankie's Girl; 08-12-2008 at 08:40 PM.
    I'm a Halloween Bride! 10/31/2002

    Where there is no imagination there is no horror.
    ~Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Bristol,RI
    Posts
    136
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Pumpkins definately make it look better
    DON'T FEAR ME

  6. #6

    Default

    wow, thats amazing!

  7. #7

    Default

    You're so creative, I love these columns. The glow from the pumpkin is wonderful, I'm inspired to try these!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    129

    Default

    Looks good and the materials wont break our budgets... good job!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    FLa Usa, nice and hot as hell
    Posts
    31

    Default

    ^ agree! nice for the price!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Houston, Texas, USA
    Posts
    4,861

    Default

    Just noticed this got bumped up...

    so I'll update and say that Michaels is carrying paper maché skulls now - the eyes and nose and sort of around the teeth area is already cut out, same brown paper look as the pumpkins I used, same price (something like $2-$3 each) and approximately the same size as the tall pumpkins (they have a squatty version as well, but I bought all taller ones).

    So you CAN get skulls for this if you wanted!
    I'm a Halloween Bride! 10/31/2002

    Where there is no imagination there is no horror.
    ~Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

 

 
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