Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tombstone tutorial: Part 1

So here's your how-to on tombstones!  Of course yours doesn't need to be this complex.  Usually people start with something well, smaller and less complicated.  But not here, I'm very goal oriented and just HAD to make the real thing.  If you're not as crazy, you can use these steps to create any size and style of tombstone you'd like.  We have many old cemeteries in the area so I often go and take inspiration from those.  If you don't have one handy, there are many great photos on Google images.

So, I started off with several good quality photos of the real thing I found online. 

I made a quick sketch of the tombstone right on my pieces of 2" pink insulation foam.  This type of foam is sold at home improvement stores and comes in long sheets.  It doesn't break apart into pellets like white styrofoam does and is much more dense.  Pink foam comes in 2 foot widths, so I made the main structure 2' wide and then just eyeballed the proportions of everything else.

Once I had the dimensions pencilled in, I started on the small items.  Mostly because it was raining outside so I couldn't cut my big pieces of foam and I needed projectss I could do indoors.  My first task was the harp.  I sketched out the design on 1/2" pink foam and cut it out with my hot wire saw.  Of course I did this in front of the open door so that the fumes didn't kill me.

Then I sanded.  A LOT.  And some more after that.  Finally I ended up with nice round edges and a pleasing shape.

For the leaves I used model magic from the craft store.  It is very light and stays plyable when dry.  I rolled it out with a rolling pin and used leaf shaped cookie cutters to cut out the leaf shapes.  I rounded all of the edges with my fingers and let them dry in different positions.  I also made the stems by rolling little snakes. 

These took several days to dry completely.

I put those aside and went to work on the acanthus leaves on the upper corners of the tombstone.  I did these exactly like the harps. 

First I sketched them on the foam, then cut them with the hot wire, and finally kept sanding until I thought my hands would fall off.  I used several types of block sanders and half round metal files.  Remember, I did the full, 3-d tombstone, so there are FOUR sides, thus 8 are needed.

And here they are all nice and polished.

Finally the leaves were dry, so I added those to the harps with liquid nails.

Phew, that was a lot of work. 

Next time we'll work with some more model magic and sculpt the Poe bas-relief.
I'm also looking forward to part 3, actual construction and power tools!!  See you next time.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Victoria! Would you be willing to share your tombstone tutorial on Hot Wire Foam Factory's website? We'd love to feature your how-to with your permission. Our gallery is located here:

    Please let me know - you can email me at :)


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