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Mound earth to look like newly dug graves and set out a few of these tombstones for a deathly welcome. The tombstones were carefully constructed out of polystyrene insulation. To ensure an easy cleanup, pile the dirt from the "fresh graves" onto a black plastic drop cloth.
What You'll Need:
- Polystyrene insulation
- Fine or medium jigsaw blade
- Medium-grit sandpaper
- Light-gray or neutral-color water-based primer
- Thin paintbrush
- Two 10-inch-long, 3/4-inch-diameter dowels
- Mat knife
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Step 1: Making Stone Templates
For inspiration before you begin, visit a cemetery and take photos and notes on the various shapes and details of gravestones. Then draw your own design or enlarge one of our templates to the desired size using the grid method.
First, decide on the size of your stone. Next, using a ruler, draw a grid that size on kraft paper, proportionate to the grid on the original, with the same number of squares. Finally, draw the outline of the tombstone in the corresponding squares on the grid.
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Step 2: Cutting and Priming the Tombstone
Cut out the enlarged template. Trace the design onto a 2-inch-thick sheet of polystyrene insulation (available at home stores). With a fine or medium jigsaw blade, cut out the tombstone. Carefully sand the edges with medium-grit sandpaper (heavier sandpaper may tear the polystyrene). Paint the tombstone with a coat of light-gray or other neutral water-based primer; let dry.
Step 3: Painting the Tombstone
Apply a first coat of medium-gray water-based paint, and let sit until almost dry.
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Step 4: Adding Spooky Effects
To add a spookier, more realistic look, take a rag to the tombstone before the paint completely dries, rubbing and smudging to create a texture. To darken the tombstone, repeat steps 3 and 4.
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Step 5: Adding Details
Use a thin brush with darker-color paint to add details.
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Step 6: Aging the Tombstone
Rub and smudge with a rag to soften edges and achieve a worn look.
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Step 7: Painting on Moss, Lichen, and Rust
Add an appearance of moss, lichen, and rust by applying small blots of pea green and red to sections of the tombstone, rubbing and smudging well.
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Step 8: Applying Final Aging Techniques and Erecting the Tombstone
Apply a final wash of very watered-down dark-gray paint to blend the details. Allow paint to drip down from the top of the tombstone, creating a rained-on look. Finally, to erect the finished tombstone, sharpen both ends of two 10-inch-long, 3/4-inch-diameter dowels with a mat knife. Drive the stakes into the bottom of the tombstone, and push the tombstone into the ground.