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After visiting my nearby craft store outlets and being disappointed by high prices and little item for my money, I set out to build a couple of headstones of my own. I wasn’t sure how well they would look but hoped that in the dark you couldn't tell that I made them.
(sorry for the order. I tried to rearrange the pics but they wouldn't budge).

Step 1: Materials I Found to Make This Project

In the paint section of my local hardware store what I found was an even bigger surprise. I found some latex based Kilz in grey! It was water based and when cured would allow me to use regular lacquer based paints. If you are not aware, you cannot spray lacquer or solvent based paints directly on Styrofoam it will melt into it and ruin the whole project. This is why a water based latex sealer is so important. You should also use caution because many of the Kilz products contain Acetone. Acetone will put a quick end to your project too. So read the labels!

Next I found something called Faux Stone paint. This stuff is really cool! When I purchased it I figured "Well maybe it will look like a grave stone at night with a black light shining on it." I was pleasantly surprised to find that as I sprayed the product on the quality of the finish and how it took on a real stone look. By the end of this project I was really hurting from the strain of patting myself on the back over this one!

Step 2: Construction

cut the top of the headstone first, then measuring from the peak 35 inches make your cut. Next I lined up the square and cut the first headstone. I did the same with the second one. From the left overs I had to partial blocks and when put together (see photo) measured close to the width of the other two stones. I also found one smaller left over which I decided to use for Fido. Poor Fido, marked his last bush as I came up on him! :D

Next I used the soldering iron first removing the tip. I did not want tiny lettering and I did not want it cutting thru to the other side. Please note that you can use some tiny scraps to get an idea of what it takes to carve letters in Styrofoam. Also cardboard can be used to layout the words you intend to put whether it be a phrase or just a name. And you will want to center your words.

Once the lettering is complete it's time to prime your headstones. Unpack your roller and one of the brushes. The brush will be used to fill in the crevasses missed by the roller (below right) and to remove any pools of paint at the bottom of the letters. Remember to paint both sides and edges to form an even coat. Set the pieces as you complete them in the sun to dry.

Step 3: Applying Stone Finish

Now that the primer has had time to dry it's time to put on the next layer of paint. Earlier I had instructed to paint both sides. This gives you the choice of leaving the back plain or applying the finish to it depending on where and how you plan to place your headstone(s). Next read and follow the instructions on the Faux Rock spray paint can. Basically it says use even strokes and to keep moving in one direction. I used a slight downward angle, it is important that you determine what looks best to you as you put the paint on.

And don't forget to spray lightly inside the lettering being careful not to let the paint to pool. If for some reason it does you can knock it down some with one of the brushes you purchased earlier.

Inspect your work and set it aside to dry for several hours. Once your project is dry inspect it to see if you need to touch up a spot or two, but remember, it will be dark and a few imperfections probably won't even show. Next get some flat stone and lay them about in front and back of the grave stone to support. I had some metal stakes I cut up to put them in the ground. I still need the rock in front and back for support to limit movement from the wind.

And this is a close up of the completed project. I lit each stone from the left with a 40 watt orange spot light, and pointed a 75 watt Black light straight on. This picture doesn't show the depth really well but the Blacklight was actually back 3ft and not right up on the object as it appears to be in this photo.

Enjoy

-The Grumpy Gnome-

Step 4: Materials List

Styrofoam sheet (3x8) Yield: Two 35" markers.
Latex sealer
Faux Stone paint
Cheap Brushes
Roller kit
Sharp Razor (for cutting out the shapes)
Fat bullet tip marker
10 steel rods.

Optional:
Styrofoam cutter (used to cut the Styrofoam but to make the letting too.)
Soldering Iron (this is what I used to create the lettering)
Dead leaves
Cotton cob webbing

Suggested tools:
Square (to keep the lettering straight and to line up the arches if you are cutting free form)
Tape measure
Sturdy work surface

Time Required:
One - two days depending on if you start early, the temperature and humidity of your locale.
Remember, you must give the primer coat plenty of time to dry before moving to the next step of spray painting.

Warning: spray paint is flammable; this project needs to be done in an open area with plenty of circulation and No open flames.
Thank you!

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