Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Custom Graveyard Monuments

This year our annual haunting of Humphrey House are growing a bit out of control. I blame the book How To Haunt Your House, Jen thinks its because I don't like work as much play. Whatever the reason, the scary props are growing.

Besides the scarecrow and the graveyard fence, we also decided to take some 2" foam board and make custom grave markers for our front yard. The store bought tombstones are okay and we always steered clear of cheezy ones, but ultimately the just look so, well... fake. To liven things up, we were inspired to create some of our own tombstones.

Armed with a wire heat gun, I sculpted the remains of some 2" rigid foam insulation into various custom tombstones, which we then embellished by melting in designs with a soldering iron (note: use LOTS of ventilation!). Jen came up with all kinds of cool fonts and designs. Next up was coloring the foam board.

Mixing the same colors used on the scarecrow, we came up with a nice gray that I blended with some old drywall compound. This was used to cover the sides and back of the tombstones. I first tried this on the front of one tombstone (the "Crane" one below), but quickly remembered that this material is meant to fill in holes and cracks (duh!). It filled in the front details far too much. But on the sides and back, it gives the tombstones much more weight and appearance of somthing sculpted out of stone. A regular paint mix (no drywall compound) on the front faces made the tombstones complete.

After drying, we used black paint for any recessed details and used a nice iridescent paint we had left over (from our condo 6 years ago!) to highlight certain aspects. Here are the results:

Bill Compton's tombstone.. May he rest in peace for all eternity.

The Van Tassel grave marker (inspired by Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow) is one of my favorites. Jen's skull-head design and side markers turned out great with the iridescent paint.



This last marker is a bit unique. I had to get Green into this display somehow, so I figured I'd make more of a monument as opposed to a tombstone, for the green homes rating system called LEED that I work with. There are five areas of the rating system that are represented by icons:

  • Sustainable Sites (SS) represented by the leaf
  • Water Efficiency (WE), shown by the drop
  • Energy and Atmosphere, indicated by the asterisk
  • Indoor Air Quality (IQ), shown by the waves
  • Materials and Resources (MR) shown by the reduce, reuse, recycle triangle.
It's a bit corny, and I know I'm taking my work home with me here, but I figured I was investing the time so might as well make it a bit personal.

Anyway, once we had the props complete, we staked them out in the yard with insulation hangers (more leftover building materials!) and a piece of lathe behind each one for support.


One of the nice things about all this work for Halloween is that its done using materials that we already had laying around from the various construction projects, giving the surplus material a new, and haunting, life. Just wait until we show you the hologram ghost we're making!

7 comments:

austin garage door repair said...

Great graveyard! It is awesome!

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