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Undaunted Haunter
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Discussion Starter #1
In another post Billy Bogart told of making tombstones from cement. I really liked his idea. However, as I mentioned in my reply, storage is a problem for me as I have to haul my stuff up a ladder into an attic each year. Obviously cement would be way too heavy for me.

My question: Does anyone know of a substance that is durable and easy to work with that I can use to make tombstones (OTHER THAN STYROFOAM)? Perhaps something I can pour or form into a mold like cement, but is not heavy like cement when it dries. I am just looking for more options other than the standard styrofoam tombstones. Thanks.
 

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Undead Handyman
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556 Posts
About a million years ago i used to use plaster of paris on top of various metal, wood, cardboard and screen frames. The stones were hollow and looked realistic and epitaphs were easy to carve into them as well. They were easy to repair and cracks tended to add realism to them. Ultimately I decided the extruded (pink) polystyrene worked better. Unfortunately i don't have any pictures to attach cause a none of us owned digital cameras a million years ago.
 

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1031 Props
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1,052 Posts
crea-stone.

Mix it up and starts to harden into a bar of soap like consistency. Takes four months to fully cure but is 4 times lighter then stone. Google it and you can find out more about it.
 

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Mill Creek Haunted Hollow
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6,359 Posts
I build my first tombstones out of particle board. I would cut them to shape, then paint them with exterior paint and paint on the lettering. Finally, I'd coat the thing in thompsons water sealer. They work pretty well, and they're not too heavy. Nice thing is they are thin, so they stack neatly.

Here's a pic from 2006.

 

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Mill Creek Haunted Hollow
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6,359 Posts
Last year, I finally started carving tombstones out of the 2" styrofoam, and I have to say, it's a big difference. They're lighter and you can carve in a lot more depth. Here are some pics of tombstones I carved.



 

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Undaunted Haunter
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Discussion Starter #6
I already have lots of styrofoam tombstones, but the wind blows bad here on the coast. Especially in Oct. My tombstones tend to blow away easily. I wanted something heavier, but was looking for an alternative to cement. I would like to have that cement look. Thanks for all the great suggestions so far.
 

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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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7,087 Posts
I have built a few tombstones out of the pink/blue foam, but make them hollow, and then weight them down with bricks. As I usually stop mowing at least a month out from the big night, the bricks are not noticeable in the longer grass.

One of the other things I use are picket stakes driven into the ground and the hollow tombstones snugged down over the stakes. It may take a little adjusting, but if you have the stakes set to where they have a foot or two still sticking out of the ground, and a sturdy built frame for the stone itself, you can slide the stone down over the stakes and it takes a beating and stays put. I use the staked pickets for my fence columns built out of cardboard, and those sucker stayed put through 20 mile hour winds and even TOTs touching them and leaning on them.

I use a take-off of the monster mud to still get a concrete/stone effect on my cardboard and tombstones: latex paint and mortar mix. I suppose sand in the paint would work as well, but I have a huge bag of mortar mix just sitting around, and it forms a glue-y thick application that dries to look just like real stone:


That is a detail of my foam obelisk made out of dollar store foam sheets. It is almost 4 feet tall and hollow on the underside and I use the pickets to secure it. It held up well last year...

One other thing that would work is glueing a shaft/pocket onto the back side of your foam stones, and then driving rebar or pickets into the ground and fitting the pocket over that. I believe there are several folks on this forum that have done variations of this technique with excellent results. That would just require some modification of your existing stones and still allow you to have some stability and be light enough for storage. (try doing a search on here for wind and tombstones?)

Hope some of this helped - I hate chasing down my stones and trying to repair wind damaged ones. :(
 

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Mill Creek Haunted Hollow
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6,359 Posts
Ok, good to know. Always nice to have the motive behind a question.

Well, I would use MDF and build them that way. There are several thicknesses of MDF you can purchase from a home improvement store. You can layer them for added depth and detail. Get some metal rods (or rebar) and mount that in the base of the tombstone. Then paint the whole thing the way you want.

Here's a rought sketch of the concept.

 

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How are you anchoring your existing foam tombstones? We had the same problem. We were placing square foam bases on our stones and the wind would break the stone clean off the base where we glued the two pieces together. Learned our lesson and now we build the stones with two or more PVC pipes embedded in the stone. Then we drive rebar in the ground and place the PVC over the rebar. We haven't had any more problems since. I've also heard of people spraying their stones with a gel coat, which is a form of liquid fiberglass.
Gel Coats & Hardener - Fibre Glast Developments

I haven't tried the gel coat yet, but I'm definitely thinking about it.
 

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Mill Creek Haunted Hollow
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6,359 Posts
You can also get creative and use raised lettering, which will give more depth to the tombstone. Go to a craftstore like Michaels and you can find all sorts of embossed lettering in a variety of styles and sizes.
 

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Mill Creek Haunted Hollow
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Frankie's Girl, your obelisk looks great!

Any chance you could post a pic of what it looks like from underneath? I'd love to see the internal construction, and how thick the sides really are.
 

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Mill Creek Haunted Hollow
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Frankie's Girl, your obelisk looks great!

Any chance you could post a pic of what it looks like from underneath? I'd love to see the internal construction, and how thick the sides really are.
 

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Registered
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Flying Tombstone anchors

I have built a few tombstones out of the pink/blue foam, but make them hollow, and then weight them down with bricks. As I usually stop mowing at least a month out from the big night, the bricks are not noticeable in the longer grass.

One of the other things I use are picket stakes driven into the ground and the hollow tombstones snugged down over the stakes. It may take a little adjusting, but if you have the stakes set to where they have a foot or two still sticking out of the ground, and a sturdy built frame for the stone itself, you can slide the stone down over the stakes and it takes a beating and stays put. I use the staked pickets for my fence columns built out of cardboard, and those sucker stayed put through 20 mile hour winds and even TOTs touching them and leaning on them.

I use a take-off of the monster mud to still get a concrete/stone effect on my cardboard and tombstones: latex paint and mortar mix. I suppose sand in the paint would work as well, but I have a huge bag of mortar mix just sitting around, and it forms a glue-y thick application that dries to look just like real stone:


That is a detail of my foam obelisk made out of dollar store foam sheets. It is almost 4 feet tall and hollow on the underside and I use the pickets to secure it. It held up well last year...

One other thing that would work is glueing a shaft/pocket onto the back side of your foam stones, and then driving rebar or pickets into the ground and fitting the pocket over that. I believe there are several folks on this forum that have done variations of this technique with excellent results. That would just require some modification of your existing stones and still allow you to have some stability and be light enough for storage. (try doing a search on here for wind and tombstones?)

Hope some of this helped - I hate chasing down my stones and trying to repair wind damaged ones. :(
Yup, the sight of the flying tombstone is well known to Propaholics. Wind picks these suckers up and delivers them to the neighbors' yard (you know the folks I mean...the folks with the look of disdain as they watch you through their curtains while you gleefully resurrect your annual homage to this, our beloved holiday).

Well, what has worked for me as of 3 years ago is to use:

2 - pieces of 16" long PVC pipe (3/4 or 1")
1 - Hot Glue Gun
Black spray paint
2 - pieces of re-bar (about 18- 24" long) from either a construction site as left-over scrap or Lowe's

Just hot glue the PVC pipes vertically-oriented and 6-8" apart to the back of the tombstones and spray paint black them.
Then place the 'stone where you want it in your yard, place the re-bars where it will line up with the pipes and hammer the re-bars into the ground.
I'd try to get the re-bar at least 4-6" into the ground. Then slip the pipes right over the re-bar. Instant support.
That should hold the tombstone very well.

Bill
 

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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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7,087 Posts

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Undaunted Haunter
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1,627 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Yup, the sight of the flying tombstone is well known to Propaholics. Wind picks these suckers up and delivers them to the neighbors' yard (you know the folks I mean...the folks with the look of disdain as they watch you through their curtains while you gleefully resurrect your annual homage to this, our beloved holiday).

Well, what has worked for me as of 3 years ago is to use:

2 - pieces of 16" long PVC pipe (3/4 or 1")
1 - Hot Glue Gun
Black spray paint
2 - pieces of re-bar (about 18- 24" long) from either a construction site as left-over scrap or Lowe's

Just hot glue the PVC pipes vertically-oriented and 6-8" apart to the back of the tombstones and spray paint black them.
Then place the 'stone where you want it in your yard, place the re-bars where it will line up with the pipes and hammer the re-bars into the ground.
I'd try to get the re-bar at least 4-6" into the ground. Then slip the pipes right over the re-bar. Instant support.
That should hold the tombstone very well.

Bill
This is how I had originally mounted mine. I lost all but 2 that year. The wind ripped them right off the pvc. Now most of mine are set on rebar that runs through the middle. Mostly it holds them okay if they are not very tall (not over 2 1/2 ft). Much bigger and they snap in half. It is not that unusual for us to get some 45-50 mph winds in Oct. I get really tired of running outside at 4 in the morning, in the pouring rain and wind, in my housecoat to rescue my props. LOL I think I will try Terra's method of embedding the pvc inside the stone. Then setting it on the rebar.

Terra: What type of sticky gluey bondy stuff did you use to hold your tombstone halves together? I have used various substances and have found nothing that really holds up well.

I thank all of you for your wonderful help and suggestions. Even though I wasn't able to use all of them, I appreciate all of them.

Oh, and Frankiesgirl, feel free to hijack any of my posts. And I love your obel...oble...oblis...your tall pointy tomb thingy. I want one.
 

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Undaunted Haunter
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Discussion Starter #18
Ooooh Dr terror eyes.... I never thought of getting rebar scraps from a construction site. Thanks for that tip.
 

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Registered
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450 Posts
More rebar info

Ooooh Dr terror eyes.... I never thought of getting rebar scraps from a construction site. Thanks for that tip.
This may be TMI, but is case anyone was curious about rebar: click <here>.

Bill
 
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