I found the work on the Elvis gravestone wasn't as difficult as I thought. My neighbors kindly gave me some spare 2" foam they had lying around (they do diaramas of castles, etc) and I've begun work on converting a lot of my older stones into this newer style.
The oldest stones are also 2" foam, being the classical rounded-over gravestone style with my witty sayings painted on. These I am doing a recessed carving. On the new foam, I'm doing them in the style I did the King's, with the area around the lettering being recesses.
More Information on how to do the carving of the letters:
I use CorelDRAW to create the layout, doing the lettering in Caslon Antique. Corel can print out the larger pages with it's tiling option, so a big stone might take 4-6 sheets that overlap.
Tape them together and use straight pins to hold down the pages onto the stone. The letters are traced out using an XActo knife plunged straight down. After tracing, the knife can be used to slowly pop out the foam either around or within the letter (depending on the style of carving I'm doing). Bigger areas that need to be removed can be done by scoring lines about a ¼" across then popping out the foam along those lines.
Sand where there is enough area and use the woodburning/heated metal object to melt back the foam. Be careful not to get too close to the letter or it will wither rapidly. Larger areas can be smoothed using a heated putty knife.
When I am done, I will sometimes take a lighter or torch (set reeeeeal slow) and very carefully add heat to the outside edges. Done right, this will give an aged look to the "stone".
Paint a base coat of white or gray onto the entire piece, especially if you plan on using spray paint (which WILL melt any foam it touches) You can use a dry brushing technique to give an aged look.
Standing the stones
Originally I used cable ties punched through my stones to wrap around a stick stuck in the ground, but that looks about as well as you would expect. The holes also grew over the years from wear and tear. For the new stones, before painting, I'm adding a block of wood to use to hold the stones to the ground. This works well if they are just going to free stand indoors as it gives a bigger footprint and makes them bottom heavy, and for outdoors, I drilled one or two holes so that a dowel rod can be driven down through it to keep them from moving. My blocks I tapered the top and sides of the wood before gluing them (Liquid Nails) to the back of the stone. If you plan on adding the hole, do that before tapering!
That's all for now. I will add pics to this entry when I get them done. Edit: Here is a link to the gravestones
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