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Discussion Starter #1
After reading Terra and many other people's tuts on tombstones, i decided it was high time that i gave my old tombestones a much needed facelift.

Unfortunately, i dont own a dremel, and i wouldnt really find many other uses for it in my day to day life other than this project, so i thought hard for an alternate solution. THen it hit me, use a glue gun!

Now, i understand that a glue gun probably wouldnt be the first thing to pop into many people's minds, but trust me, when you are a high school student bored with making mag-lev cars and balloon racers in tech class, you, umm....."discover" things, like how a hot glue gun melts and cauterizes foam boards with enough percision to shape letters and other things.

Nevertheless, i am by no means saying you should run out and buya top of the line glue gun, only to use it for this, or even ruin an existing glue gun. Dollar store or bargin bin glue guns work just the same as high performance ones, as you will only be using the tip (the heated part) and not the actual glue itself. While we are ont he subject, i dont reccomend using a low temperature glue gun either, for obvious reasons.

Finally, i HIGHLY reccomend you read Terra's tut Ancient Tombstones, because i really dont feel comfortable taking credit for most of this tut, when a great deal of it was already explaine dby Terra so eloquently before.

So, now that that is all out of the way, i think it is high time we get this tutorial started! Here is a pic of just how bad our tombstones were before. Flat gray textured paint on particle board, cut out and painted with white writing. yeah, it was that bad:rolleyes:
View attachment 4091
 

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Discussion Starter #2
basically, you want to brainstorm first, just what do you want your stone to look like? What shape do you want it to be? what do you want to really stand out? Do you want it to look old, or new? Will it be humerous, or serious?

Once you have got a basic sketch, take your foam board and draw out a basic outline for the stone. In this example, i used a cross, but yours could be a rectangle, rounded rectangle, or any shape you want it to be.

Make sure that the foam is at least an inch and a half thick, i used two, but anything thinner, and the hotglue gun may melt all the way through.

Go to word and type out the message you want, in the font you want. I found it very helpful to turn the page to "landscape", which flips it horizontally. Find the right size you want, and print it out. i discovered afterwards that it may be helpful to switch the style to "emboss", which will give you just the outline of the letters.

Using your sketch as a guide, position the letters on the stone and tape them into place with a bit of clear tape.
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The next step will be to use a small, sharp nail or knife to puncture small holes along the outlines of all the letters. Dont be afraid to push hard to really transfer the hole through. The sharper the object, the easier this is, just be careful. This is by far the slowest part of the entire process, depending on how many letters you have, this coudl take anywhere from five minutes to half and hour.
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If you havent already, plug in your glue gun. Make sure that the gun had no glue sticks in it, as this may accidentally leak out durring the shaping, and cause damage to your stone. It will take at least a few minutes to warm up, so i suggest plugging it in a little over half way through the hole puncturing. Once it is hot enough, i really reccomend you practice on a scrap piece of foam at first. Practice making smooth, stright lines, gradually getting deeper towards the center, and then gradually coming back up to the top. Once you are comfortable with this, practice making the same valley-like motions in a curve, getting deeper and wider in the middle of the curve, then popping back up easilly towards the end.

After you are completely comfortable with this, you may notice a few things.
1. What is that weird, sweet smell and smoke coming from the end of the glue gun?
2. There is a build up of melted foam on the end of the gun, can i do anything to clean it?
3. Is this going to do any permenant damage to my lungs?

To answer numbers one and three, the smell is vaporizing foam, the smoke is vaporized foam, and yeah, you should probably be wearing a mask, but as long as you arent sitting there in a sealed box, inhaling the vapors like there is no tommorow, i doubt you will be doing any serious damage. My advice is to just work in an open space, like a garage, and if you really are bothered by the smell (which really isnt that bad) put up a small fan to blow the fumes away.

To detail the letters, you will need to follow a basic pattern. the thinner the line, the shallower the melt.
View attachment 4094

Try to start out with a shallow area, like the top of an S. Dont be afraid if you go outside the lines, you can always go back and correct. Just be sure to only correct slightly, or else you will end up with giant letters.
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You will want to transition smoothly from areas of shallower depth to areas of deeper and wider topography, but dont worry, you can always go back through and smooth out rough edges. Be patient, it takes practice and time to get steady (heck, even i am not there yet!:D)
 

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Discussion Starter #3

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here are some of the pics of the final designs of the tombstones i have done so far. I wont be able to access the foam cutter until tuesday, so for now this is as far as i can go with the tut, but i promise more pictures to come, as soon as i get these babies cut out.

please feel free to ask questions, comment, and just let me know how i am doing, as this is only my second tut ever. (constructive criticism highly encouraged!:D)

View attachment 4101

i was thinking possibly LEDs for the eye? what do you think?
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The three dates are for when he was first burried, and then subsiquently dug up and burried once more. for some reason i have had to explain that to like five people. In the final one, the first two will be crossed out
View attachment 4103
 

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Tell them to watch young frankenstein they have that gag there too.Love some of the names.also you can get what is called a pounce wheel at an art supply store and some pounce chalk. I learn this for a sign painter friend.what it does is you trace the shape or letters with the pounce wheel and it pokes little holes though the paper,the you use the pounce chalk over the holes you made and it gives an outline.fast and easier than the poke holes with a nail method.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
yeah, i thought of somthing similar, but was like, "ehh, what the heck, i am just going to do a few." something like that would have been soo helpful, thank you for putting a name to the product, i just called it a spikey pizza cutter up till now:D

I have a few more names i really want to try out, and i will be sure to post pics of them and these when they all get cut out on tues. thank you for the encouragement, like i said anything and everything is welcome, this has really been a learning experience so far
 

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Discussion Starter #8
thank you very much for the compliments! i tried to brain storm a list of names i hadnt heard before, but still sounded creepy/humerous, not just something like, "Here lies Fred, He's dead, He fell on his head, Poor Fred!" (we actually used this stone for a while:rolleyes:)

i just really wanted to get this method out there, cause i had known about it for a long time, and hadnt seen it posted yet, i just hoped it hadnt been a common knowledge piece of info already! i would be thrilled if even a few people with, heh, "limited" crafting skills (like me:eek:) benefitted from this.
 

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Thank you for the idea. I am going to try it. I have never worked with foam though. Does it matter what color you use? I am not sure what the difference is between pink foam, blue foam....
 

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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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It is not a new technique - this is the link to one of the first ones I've seen from a few years back... (check hauntproject.com - that's where I've seen this method before)

The Skeleton's Hand: 2008 Countdown #4

It is still a great method, tho! :) Good job, and nice execution!


thank you very much for the compliments! i tried to brain storm a list of names i hadnt heard before, but still sounded creepy/humerous, not just something like, "Here lies Fred, He's dead, He fell on his head, Poor Fred!" (we actually used this stone for a while:rolleyes:)

i just really wanted to get this method out there, cause i had known about it for a long time, and hadnt seen it posted yet, i just hoped it hadnt been a common knowledge piece of info already! i would be thrilled if even a few people with, heh, "limited" crafting skills (like me:eek:) benefitted from this.
 

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Scared Silly
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It is not a new technique - this is the link to one of the first ones I've seen from a few years back... (check hauntproject.com - that's where I've seen this method before)

The Skeleton's Hand: 2008 Countdown #4

It is still a great method, tho! :) Good job, and nice execution!
That's mine:D. I wrote it last year, but I've been doing it since 2007. I've found that it works best in conjunction with one of these hotwire cutters for sharp corners (I got mine at Michaels).

As far as types of foam goes, this technique will work on all of them, but it melts more slowly through some than others.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
aww man:(

well, that was what i thought to myself, it seemed so simple, i couldnt think of how it hadnt been thought of before. oh well though, no harm done, if anything i just brought it back to the forefront of people's attention. sorry mr. chicken, all the credit goes to you! :D

i will be getting the stones cut out tommorow, as i will have access to the school's foamcutter, and yeah, i dont think it really matters what color you use.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
hello again!
sorry about the long absence, but i had things going on:), but i finally got my tombstones cut out!

well, at least one of them:D. For time sake, i ahd to use my table saw to sut out the cross, but i would reccomend you make friends with someone with a hot wire foam cutter, it will help a lot more! I would have been able to get them all cut out using this method, if it were not for the fact I couldnt get all of the tombstones there at once to cut. so it may still be a while before i can get them all cut out, but i pushed ahead for the sake of the tutorial.

here is the cross stone so far with some penciled-in cracks (sorry about it being sideways, i forgot to flip it around, and it wont let me do it with the new transfer software i have to upload from my camera)
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To make the cracks, i used a standard pocket knife (very sharp of course, so be careful, as if i needed to say it:rolleyes:) I angled the knife so it was a very shallow cut, and then came in from the other side, to make a "V" shaped wedge that followed the pencil line. Remember to be very sharp with your corners, i have never heard of a smooth crack. Another advantage of the knife is that it isnt very clean looking, so it really adds to the overall effect of the tombstone. If you cut too deep or wide, dont worry, wood putty should be fine to patch it up, just smooth it off, and when you paint, it will be near invisible.
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Here is a close up on the first crack i made (personally i like this one better because it runs much shallower than the second, which will need to be thinned out before painting) sorry again about the blurriness
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I thought this angle capured the depth of things really well, and it shows both the cracks without washing them out too much
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this front shot shows the progress to this point, but the flash really takes away from the cracks, you'll just have to take my word that they are there:D
View attachment 4184
 

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Discussion Starter #15
you know, i didnt really explain the base of the cross, mainly because i didnt want to draw attention to this small detail if things went awry and it didnt turn out right (i was planning on using it as a nice decoration for our haunted hay-ride wagon) When it turned out decent, i figured i may as well cover this piece as well. I do have a word of caution, I am a bit of an overthinker, so if you want to wing it, please do:), but I, *cough*cough*, got a bit "technical" in planning it out. Feel free to skip the enormous mathmatical explanation, even I dont know why I made it sooooooooooooo extensive:rolleyes:.

Here is a pic of just the base. In the background is what will be a prop gun for our clown scene this year. it is an old stink-blaster's gun (thank goodness for younger siblings:D!) i'll probably paint it to disguise it, but it makes a nice big boom and pop when it is fired, followed by a large burst of air (confetti anyone;)?)
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The base is actually two seperate pieces, one smaller one that goes on the larger one.
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WARNING
MATH AHEAD
I recycled the foam from either side of the skinny part on the cross to make these parts, and i must say it does take a bit of planning to get them the right size. This is the part where a sketch would really come in handy. Granted it doesnt have to be a detailed, scientific sketch, but try to make it to scale. Luckily i had a calculator nearby, but you will need to first divide the actual length of the cross part of the cross (hope that made sense) by the length of the same part in the sketch. Then take this number, and multiply it by the length of the longer part of the base in the sketch. Round this to the nearest whole interval (I used quarters of an inch, but if you dont want to mess, whole inches would probably work without being too distorted). I just guessed at the width, but it should probably be a around a half to a quarter of the length. Do the same for the small piece, and then use a ruler and sketch the dimensions on each piece of foam. I did this before I cut out the cross, but if you save the pieces, you should be fine too.

Next, you will want to sketch out the inside of each piece, and to do this I used, duh-dah-duh-duh, an EQUATION!:D WHOO-HOO!
:eek:O.K., so it may not be the most exciting thing ever, but i wanted to make sure the hole would be centered. For the width, i used this formula "Width of the cross (where it will meet the base)= 2x + the width of the foam core (mine was two inches, you may have 1 1/2, or even 1)". For the length, you do the same basic formula, but use the length of the base and the length of the cross where it will meet the base. All you have to do is solve for "x". And for those who dont want migraines from the overthinking, tracing the bottom of the cross probably would work fine in hind sight.:D

Well, now that we have the outside of each piece cut out, we need to get the inside cut out, and to do this, I just used my drill press to drill a hole at each corner of the inside outline. A hand drill would be a perfect substitute as well, with a suitably large drill bit.
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Once I had each of the corners drilled out, I used my pocket knife to cut from corner to corner, and then popped each center out. I made adjustments as necessary by dry fitting the cross into each piece.
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Here is the final product, sans the cross. I will be sure to keep everyone updated as progress is made, next I hope to get going with the "roughing up" with spray paint. First time, wish me luck!:)
View attachment 4192
 

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Discussion Starter #16
ok, we have had a pretty on and off rainy week, so it made the weathering process harder (go figure:rolleyes:), but i made a little more progress on my cross stone.

To give it that rocky appearance, I used the old technique of spray paint and uneven strokes. I went extra heavy around the edges and the cracks, cause naturaly these parts would be among the first to be eaten away at. I do have to say, I am not the best painter in the world, so yet again, I encourage you to look at Terra's tuts for a much better description of this part of the finishing process.

Using the spray paint, I stood about a foot from the tombstone and sprayed in an erratic pattern, up and down, left and right, never stopping for too long over one particular place. DOnt worry if it doesnt seem to be doing too much at this point, if you sit and watch, even the smallest amount of spray paint will eat away at the foam, giving it a nice look and (eventually) feel. I say eventually because until it drys, the foam will be a sticky mess of toxic foam goo, which will end up pulling itself from the tombstone and attaching to whatever touches it (hands, clothing, small pets....). Just let it sit out and cure for a little while. When doing the edges and sides, I used just a bit more to really give them a weathered look. Dont worry if you can still see some of the writing on the back or extra lines from the sketching process, this will not be the final paint job, this is just to give it the texture of real stone.

This pic was taken after the first spray over with the paint, and a little ways into the detailing of the letters.
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Due to the uneven depth of the letters caused by the glue gun, you may find it useful to paint a layer of black paint on the inside of each letter. I used a thick paint brush for the deeper parts, and a thinner one for the more shallow details. Dont worry about being neat, just try to get eveything covered. I found stabbing motions coupled with long strokes for the smoother areas worked best, so it would be best not to use a good high quality brush for this. (dollar store people know my face by heart now:D).

Here are the deeper areas painted, witht he shallower ones still to go.
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I was debating whether or not to do anything to highlight the cracks, but in the end i decided that painting a defined line down the center wouldnt look too natural, so I made a compromise and dipped my thin brush, then removed most of the paint from it against the side of the can and made a broken line following each crack in the middle. For this though, I did not make sure that the line was solid, and i personally think it makes it look all the better.

Here is a close up on the crack, which i hope helps to clarify what I did better than my description.
View attachment 4222

After I did this, I called it a day and let it sit to dry. Looking back, I probably would have glued the base together BEFORE the weathering process, but live and let learn. Here is a picture of the cross itself after painting and crack detailing.
View attachment 4224

Until this thing dries I wont be able to do much, so until later, happy haunting.
 
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