How many of you get to decorate for Halloween at the office? Several years ago, my company let me commandeer an empty cubicle for a Halloween display. It was the perfect opportunity to poke fun at the fact that they were closing down our beloved cafeteria. I added touches such as the tombstone that reads 'RIP Cafeteria' and the ball and chain around the ankle of the 'employee'. So much fun!!
A tombstone can add a ton of personality to your Halloween decor. Although I used mine to decorate a cubicle at the office, you could carve any ghoulish message you like and turn your front yard into a veritable graveyard for the big night!
Step 1: You Will Need...
- 2″ thick 4×8 sheet of foam board
- Marker or carbon paper
- Wood burning tool with tips
- Faux stone spray paint
Step 2: Cut the Foam and Carve
Cut the foam to your desired tombstone shape using the jigsaw.
Design what you want to put on the face of your tombstone and print it out. I cut my words out of the paper, then traced around it using a marker. If you prefer, you can use carbon paper to transfer the letters onto the face of the foam.
Pop on a pointed tip and heat up the wood burning tool. Once hot, start tracing around each letter. Do this work outdoors or in a well ventilated area (I did mine in the garage and laid it flat on top of the blue bin).
Once the outline is done, burn inside the rest of the letters to get depth (you can use a wider tip for the interior of the letters so it goes faster).
Step 3: Ready to Paint
When you're done carving, it will look like the pictures shown. Don't worry about any marker still showing; it will get covered by the paint.
Step 4: Use a Textured Spray Paint
If you want the lettering to be more pronounced, dab in a darker colour (I didn't do that step). Then spray the entire piece with the texture paint (I used Krylon Make It Stone in a light grey colour). Do at least two coats for a good coverage.
Step 5: Time to Add the Decorative Elements
Since this was for the office and I was poking fun at the fact that our company was closing down our cafeteria, I decorated accordingly. I staged the tombstone by adding a mound of dirt and a dead flower at the base (I used dried moss and a faux flower).
On the desk, I added an 'abandoned' tray, a curdled cup of coffee with cobwebs, albino rat (poor thing isn't getting any nutrition with the cafeteria closed!) and trail of spiders (a few belly up). What better way to mourn the loss of our lunch program than with a little humour?
Step 6: A 'Model' Employee
I made the 'employee' from scratch. Unfortunately I didn't take step-by step photos, but I attached the few that I do have so you get the gist of how I made her.
- Chicken wire,
- Pool noodles,
- A pair of cotton gloves, and
- Old clothing.
First, I put some plastic over a dress form to prevent snagging while I while molded the torso out of chicken wire to the shape of the form. The plastic also helped make it easier to remove. I left the opening in the back and removed the torso. I twisted the seam of the chicken wire closed using a pair of needle nosed pliers. To keep the wire from showing through, I put a bodysuit over the torso to smooth it out (second picture).
I used pool noodles for the arms and legs, which were cut at the knees and elbows, then strung together. This allowed her to bend so she could sit and hold the baby. Pantyhose over the pool noodles held the stuffing in place, which gave her adequate padding.
I added a hair dresser mannequin head which cradled right into the gap at the neck. I fashioned a 'turtle neck' of sorts out of a piece of scrap black knit fabric to hide the seam between the neck and head. For the hands, I stuffed a pair of cotton gloves, which I dyed a natural skin tone. I then clothed her and put some shoes on - a high laced ankle boot is best because you can tighten it to the pool noodle. As you can see in the 4th photo, I assembled it all on my living room floor; the room looked like a crime scene while I was working on her! The final test was to prop her into a chair to make sure she would stay upright.
As I found out while transporting her, it's not a good idea to leave her slumped in the back seat of the car while you run an errand (and an even worse idea to stuff her into the trunk); passersby may mistake her for a real person :)
Once she was at the office, I clothed her in a company golf shirt and cap in addition to sporting a ball and chain around her ankle. I also poked fun at 'bring your kids to work day' by putting a 'baby' in her arms (you'll notice I left some diapers on the desk too). Finishing details include the phone hanging off the receiver in the background and right above that I added a framed picture of a ghoul (who doesn't have a picture of a loved one at the office?).
Step 7: Not Just Any Baby
On closer inspection, you can see that I replaced a dolls head with a skeleton head that lights up and placed a spider in one of the eye sockets. Just the right amount of 'creepy'!
Step 8: More Tombstone Project Ideas
If you're making the tombstone for outdoors, add three dowels in the bottom and then press them into a styrofoam base so the tombstone stands on it's own - like this project from Lowes (click through to get details on how to fabricate a base).
For more one-of-a-kind tombstone ideas, this tutorial from DIY Network also has some great information on how to carve one and give it a realistic faux-finish with regular paint.
Step 9: Please Vote
In Oh My Goth (Part 1), I carved a realistic pumpkin in the likeness of my boss - a different employer but still one with a sense of humour. For that one, I poked fun at my boss's addiction to smoking and put a lit cigarette in the pumpkin's mouth when I presented it to him at the office Halloween party. You can check out the original Oh My Goth on my site (and subscribe to Birdz of a Feather while you're at it).
If you enjoy the humour in poking fun at the corporate world as much as I do, please vote :)