Monday, 24 September 2018

DIY Tombstones

Halloween with a ghost story! All the ingredients for a great fright fest right there!

Its almost time for Halloween and as most card makers (and other crafters) know,  this is the most fun that you can have at your craft table! All of those ghosties, ghoulies and vampires not to mention a zombie or two are just a blast and you can let your creativity run wild.

There are so many elements to these cards but for today, I want to concentrate on those tombstones.

I love to create cards with scenes sometimes which tell a story. This year, ghosts and graveyards have caught my imagination and that meant tombstones! 

Once you have the idea down, you can experiment with different shapes.

Now you can buy some great dies to make these but that still leaves you with a flat and somewhat uninteresting piece of card or paper a bit of a far cry from a real, aged, dimensional and pitted headstone, the sort that you might find in a very old graveyard.

I spooked myself making this one - there is something very chilling about two children alone in an old graveyard as dusk gathers, one sitting on her own headstone.....

So enter the noble art of the faux finish (another love of mine as my regular readers will attest). This is an easy to achieve effect and it will add an extra something to your work. 
I am starting from scratch for those of you who have not got a tombstone die  and I will show you how to draw a tombstone. If you have a die, please use that and just go from the cutting bit onwards.

So what will we need?
- a piece of grey board (or chip board in some places). Mine is about 1 mm thick. I am sorry but I do not know what this is in old money. I found mine on eBay in packs of 10 A4 sheets.
-white acrylic paint. I am using Snow White from DecoArt Americana
-Distress Ink- I love Black Soot.
-black marker pen
-white gel pen
-some thin alphabet dies and hearts, the sort of thing that you might find on a headstone. I love Thinlits by Sizzix
-a wood grain embossing folder. my favourite is the Tim Holtz 3D one. Seems an odd choice since we are going for stone but bear with me!
-water spray bottle, scissors and a die cutting machine.
-your usual crafting needs

Okay, so here we go! To begin with, draw a simple tombstone shape on your  grey board....

Start simple with a classic shape. You can then progress to other shapes to add variety.

Now that is nice, but it has no dimension at all and we need some of that so make a second line from the top to the right hand side.

You can already see that it has shape and dimension!

Simply draw a line as though you wanted to widen the initial shape.
Now cut it out with a sharp pair of scissors....

The best thing is that you drawing does not have to be perfect! These grave stones get wonky and pitted with age and elements - just say that is what you were going for!

Make a few of these at a time because you can put them away to use later once the main parts are done.

Now you have a piece of flat card and if you are die cutting the shape, this is where you come in. The next thing to do is to add texture.
A wood grain folder may seem like an odd choice to do this with but actually it works well because it is subtle. 
The first thing to do is to spritz both sides of the cardboard shape with plain water and put it into the embossing folder with the usual 'sandwich' of plates.

Make a few at once to save time later 

Now run it through the machine three times. 

Magic is happening!

Next, let's bring out a bit of the texture by inking with Black Soot Distress ink....

It still looks a bit wood grainy but that will disappear in a bit.
Of course, the dimensional bit on the right hand side is not there for the fun of it! Make that bit darker with the black ink. You will see it easier on the next shot.

But where there is a shadow, there MUST be a highlight to compliment it. Put some of the white acrylic paint onto your mat and dab it with your finger to spread it out a bit. Take a tiny amount on your finger (think applying eye shadow) and rub it lightly across the grain lines on the front of the gravestone only.....

It doesn't have to be perfectly on the line either, some blurring of the line will help with the aged appearance.
As you can see from the photo above, this makes the black on the side stand out and gives a lot of texture. Keep adding and layering a bit at a time until you are happy with the effect. Concentrate the highlight to the top and the left hand side.

It is time to add the letters.
Now you will not have much room so I advise sticking to 'RIP' and some nice smaller motifs like hearts and crosses.

I have swapped to my Side Kick but you do not have to.
 I love the Thinlits letters for this. They are deep enough to etch the message into the card and break the paper fibres so that you can dig them out but they do not cut all the way through. The card is still damp too so it makes it all easier.

Run it through your die cutting machine.....

The side Kick is right at home on the glass mat! It HATES my wooden desk top and will NOT stick to it!

Gently remove the letters and motif (some of the P came away with mine but that doesn't matter). 

It may be my eyes but I am sure that this pic is blurry! Sorry about that! You can still see what is needed though.

Now take something sharp and precise. I love my trusty surgical scalpel for this job. The idea is to dig the top layers of the letters out, leaving some card behind.

Channel your inner neurosurgeon!

When you have done this, it is time to do some final highlights and shadows - as you can see, the lettering is nice and deep but not weathered enough so.....

It is starting to look like something!

Go back in with the black marker and make some shadows on the right hand side of the letters. Make some coming down from the top too to show deeper fissures in the stone.

All of my shadows are on the right and the highlights are on the left. This must reflect the general direction of the light to look realistic in the scene. However, I choose this direction because I am right handed. if you are left handed, do the opposite and make sure that you back it up with a light source coming the other way when you assemble the card.

Next to every shadow must be a highlight so go in with the white gel pen and make the highlights. Dot and dab to make them look more like pitted stone. A continuous and unbroken like looks too new.

The marker shadows can be a bit harsh. I went back in with my water brush and a bit of Black soot  to soften it.

And there you have it! Experiment and see what you can come up with. 

RIP is a great go-to and you can put it on most of the headstones.

I have added some grass made from plain black paper to fill gaps.

When you build your scene, always start from the back and build forward.

These gravestones can be stacked in quite thickly and angled to show where they have collapsed with time. Have a play!

Happy Halloween!!

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Thanks for stopping by - I would love and welcome any feedback. Debs xxx