Hours of work
Above is the finished product. Below is the inspiration; a grainy screencapture from YouTube of a TV intro from a show that is 40 years old. I tried to enlarge this image enough to trace onto my foam, but it was waaay to grainy and just disintegrated... So back to the drawing board.
Below is an image I found searching 'Edward Gorey' online. It's some type of promo poster for the season, but that skeleton up top is darn close to the one I was trying to replicate, and it was a huge, modern JPEG. So I decided to sacrifice a little bit of authenticity for the cause.
Tombstones are all about the FONT (Seriously, go to dafont.com and lose an evening wandering around). Luckily this one came with font included, so the only work at this step was sizing it correctly. Below is one of my first tries, and as you can see it was waay too small.
After getting just the right size, then printing it, and then taping it to the foam and then tracing it, and then carving it out with a Dremel, we get to this stage. By now I had also done the same work with the skeleton image that I liked; print it at the right size, trace, and drill out with Dremel. Below is the tombstone ready for the final steps I like to use; Drylok, painting, and weathering!
(A quick note here: The eyes and nose of the skull were so small I blew them out with my Dremel. So I panicked. After panicking awhile, I realized I could just get some veery tiny pushpins to use for his eyeballs, and a quilting thing called a T-pin for his nose. [see photos below])
The next step was to Drylok over the whole thing. Drylok is a "masonry waterproofer" that I can find at my local hardware stores with no problem. It's kind of like latex paint with very fine grain sand mixed into it. It dries very hard, and it gives a very convincing "stone" look. For this particular tombstone I knew I wanted a lot of texture, so I glooped it on thick and made sure it was uneven and splotchy.
Note: I should say that I was very careful around letters and details. If you gloop it on too thick you run the risk of filling in the letters you worked so hard to carve out, and then you're in trouble. So use a small brush and a light hand around the letters and carved details, and save the glooping for big open patches.
Once the Drylok set, it was time to paint. I wanted the carved out letters to stay white (which they were already) but I wanted the face to be black. Spray painting would just black out the whole thing, so I went with cheap Wal-Mart acrylics and a careful brush. For me, this step probably took the longest; keeping the interior of the letters bright white, but covering the face in black.
Below you can see the pins I used for his eyes and nose. Just tiny little pins from a dress shirt I bought on Amazon for his eyes, and a quilting T-pin for his nose. I had to paint them a little to fool your eye, but even from a foot or two away they look fine. I also used a couple of pins for little bits of his spine that got blown out. Can you find them?
The final product. A replica of a cartoon. These are the kinds of tombstones that I want in my graveyard; something a little more unique, a little off the beaten path. I hope this post can be helpful, or maybe even an inspiration to someone out there. Happy Haunting!!
This is a replica of a very specific tombstone, one seen for just a couple of seconds in the animated intro of a British murder mystery anthology from the eighties called 'Mystery.' My Mom watched this show a ton during my childhood, and that theme song is forever etched in the marble of my memory.