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I wanted a cooler for my parties which would be relatively easy to make (so, the coffin type was out), cheap (so, it would need to make use of a regular cooler). This picture got me thinking:
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Though I wanted something sturdy enough to hold up to multiple parties. So, the cheap Styrofoam coolers were out. I thought I would be able to take a regular cooler and make it look enough like those boxy tombstones that it wouldn’t look too out of place. Here’s the cooler I started with:
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It’s just a cheap cooler from Wal-Mart. I picked this one because it was big enough, cheap, and had a front which I thought would work with what I wanted to do.

Materials list (most of the items were purchased at Wal-Mart and HomeDepot):
Igloo 48qt Island Breeze Cooler - $15.88
Winged Cherub (eBay) - $5.47
Sticko Alphabet Stickers (Alpha LG Black Foam) - $2.84
Wooden Cross - $2.97
Corner Plaque - $2.97
2 Suncatcher Crosses - $0.53/each - $1.06
Liquid Nails - Heavy Duty - $2.26
Wood Filler - $2.77
Wall-Mount Bottle Opener (Goodwill)- $1
Rustoleum Textured Paint (Aged Iron) - $5.76
Painter’s Touch Gray Primer - $3.87
Acrylic Paint (already owned) - $0
Total: $46.85

I bought wood “RIP” letters off eBay, but they ended up being too large for the rib on the front of the cooler. The wooden letters at Wal-Mart were the right size, but looked too cutesy for what I wanted. They are an option, if that works for you. They come in a bag of 36.
Luckily, I found 1” stick-on foam letters at Wal-Mart which will work. Since they are smaller, I just spelled out Rest In Peace, instead of just using the acronym. I found the font of the foam letters, Bernard MT Condensed, in Word and typed out REST IN PEACE. I increased the size to 90, so it would be the same size as the stickers. The letters felt smooshed together, so I adjusted the kerning in the Font tab so there was a 4pt space between letters. That gave me a template to help me lay out my letters on the cooler.

I laid everything out, to get an idea of what it would look like (with a print-out of the cherub, since I haven’t received it yet in the mail).
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I cleaned the cooler. I had to use some adhesive remover to get the sticker residue off. Then I scrubbed the cooler, rinsed it very well, and let it dry completely.

I found a suitable winged cherub on eBay.
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The cherub doesn’t fully cover the Igloo logo, so I got a cheap, wooden plaque from Wal-Mart to cover the logo.
If you can’t find one, here are some options (though you will need to use plaster to actually make them):
https://www.etsy.com/listing/492381446/silicone-mold-to-create-beautiful-cherub
https://www.etsy.com/listing/464590958/silicone-mold-to-create-beautiful-cherub
Or, search for cherub or angel ornaments or sun-catchers on eBay. Try to find one with a flat back. If it doesn’t have a flat back, but it’s plastic, resin, or plaster, you can use a sander to flatten the back a bit, and give it a better grip to the surface of your cooler. If you do this, you will likely need to fill in more gaps with wood filler (after you let the glue dry).
If you want to go cheap, you could use one of these pictures as a template (paste it into Word to easily resize it) and cut it out of craft foam or cardboard:
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Cherup Pic.jpg
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As this is a beer cooler, I needed a bottle opener. Luckily, I found one at Goodwill for $1. You could also find these wall-mounted bottle openers on eBay.
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I popped off the Cowboys bottlecap and used JB Weld to affix a skull button (which I already had in my sewing stuff) in its place.
I used more JB Weld to affix the bottle opener to the cooler, and then screwed it into place (since it will have to take more strain than the decorative stuff).
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I put the letters on, using my printed slip as a guide. Even with two sheets, I was one E short, so I cannibalized an F and a bit of a T.
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I used more JB Weld to affix all of the rest of the stuff to the cooler. I roughed up that backs of the plastic stuff with sandpaper, for a more secure bond with the glue.
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I used a sandbag to hold down the wooden plaque, as the front isn't completely flat.
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The angel had to go on in multiple steps, as I needed to make sure the base dried before I mounted the angel. I used paint remover and some brushes (brass and an old toothbrush) to remove much of the paint. Then I put it in hot, soapy water and brushed again to remove the rest of the paint residue. I didn't want my new paint job to chip off.
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After the glue dried, I used the wood filler to fill in any cracks between the pieces and the cooler.
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I used a Rustoleum primer which said it works for plastic, so the paint wouldn’t just chip off.
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Then I sprayed it with the Rustoleum textured paint (Aged Iron). This gave me a fairly dark base layer.
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Then I dry-brushed a mix of mostly white and some medium grey acrylic:
Dry Brushing.jpg
With some green and brown for accents using the natural sponge.
[insert pic]
I finished it off with a wash of very diluted black acrylic. I sealed it with Minwax Polycrylic (brush-on, as I heard many people had problems with the spray-on).
[insert pic]

I will updated the pictures as I complete it.
 
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