A Spooky Halloween DIY Project: Old Cemetery

A Spooky Halloween DIY Project: Old Cemetery

A Spooky Halloween DIY Project: Old Cemetery

A Spooky Halloween DIY Project: Old Cemetery

(That you can do with the whole family!)

We’re in the midst of the spookiest season of the year and Halloween is approaching very quickly. My all time favorite part of this season is being able to connect with our families and friends through traditions like pumpkin carving, apple cider making and various craft projects. I have a DIY project that will not only make the outside of your home festive for years to come but also it’s a fun project to do with the entire family. I will show you how to create custom gravestones for a little cemetery, it is very cheap and SIMPLE to put together but it looks high quality. If you have a bit of time, this is an easy project to do but very rewarding and fun!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 inch thick XPS foam (purchased at Home Depot)
  • Clear Gorilla Glue
  • Fake moss (optional)
  • Carving tools
  • Rotary Tool
  • Heat Gun (Can be found online for $25)
  • Masonry sealer: Drylock
  • Paint for wash (I used black, grey, brown and light green acrylic paint)
  • Water

And that’s it! Not all of these items are necessary in creating your gravestones but having a heat gun and rotary tool will definitely help make it look more authentic. Pro Tip: Although these do not take much time to make, there will be periods where you have to let glue and paint dry, so make sure to take this into account when making them!


Step One: Let’s begin! Start by taking your XPS foam and drawing out the shape you want your gravestone to be. For one of my gravestones, I chose a coffin shape and drew it onto the foam. After this, take your carving tools and carve out the shape. It’s okay if it looks a bit rough.. They’re old gravestones! They’re supposed to look old and jagged. Once you’ve carved out the shape, then create a base for it to sit on top of.  I took my gravestone, set it up right and then drew out a slightly larger rectangle. Then carve it out just like you did with your gravestone. We want our base to be thicker, so take your rectangular base and trace it out onto the foam one more time and carve out a second rectangle. You should now have three separate pieces. One gravestone and two base pieces.

Step Two: Take your gorilla glue and glue together the two rectangular base pieces. It takes 24 hours to cure, so set it aside in the meantime. While this is curing, now it’s time to design your gravestone! What do you want it to say? Do you want it to have a design or a picture on it? It’s totally up to you! For one of my gravestones I had my name on it and I decided to do a design on it. The more intricate you do, the longer it’ll take but the better it will look. First draw on your letters/pictures you want on it. You can use stencils or freehand it. Once you’ve drawn it on, now it’s time to carve it out! I used both the carving and rotary tools. I used the rotary tool for the letters, numbers and pictures and then afterwards I went in with the carving tool to detail it. If you mess up, it’s okay! There are ways to fix them! 


Step Three: Okay, by now your gravestone is on it’s way to looking awesome but it’s not looking old enough. Time to add in cracks! You can even add in cracks near any mess ups you may have made to cover them up. To add cracks you take your carving knife and hold it at a 45 degree angle, cutting into the foam. Then do the exact same thing, into the same cut you just made but at the opposite angle - making a V shape into the foam. Now you can play around with the cracks until it starts looking like how you want it to! You can add huge cracks too, even cutting off a large chunk of the foam. 

Step Four: Once you’re satisfied with how it looks, it is time to add a bit of texture to the gravestone. Take a spray bottle with water in it and spritz down the gravestone thoroughly. Grab your heating tool, if you’re using one, and direct it closely onto the foam. After a few seconds you will see that it starts to bubble and texture the gravestone, stop once you like the way it looks. Do this all over your gravestone. You can also take a ball of aluminum foil and roll it all over the foam as well to add more texture.


Step Five: Alright, now it’s time to glue the base piece with the gravestone! Remember this takes 24 hours to cure. After it has cured, now we can begin painting. Take the masonry sealer paint and go ahead and paint the entire gravestone and base. For me, it took two coats. Let dry completely. 


Step Six: We’re almost finished! These particular gravestones are old and we want them to look authentically damaged from all the rain and weather. To do this we have to make a wash. To make a wash you do 2 parts water, 1 part paint. I used three separate colors: black, brown and light green all in separate cups. I mixed it up and then took a paint brush and dipped and blotted it all over my gravestone in the areas that made sense to have weather damage: near cracks, words and along the base. I started with the black wash and then added in the other colors until I liked the way it looked. I let it dry for 15 minutes and then went over it again to have a more layered look. I took the black wash and painted inside all of the lettering, numbers and pictures I made so it would be easier to read. Pro Tip: If you start doing the wash and think you messed up because it’s too dark, keep in mind it will lighten up once it dries a bit but also, you can take a wet rag and use it as an eraser for any mistakes you make. Once finished, let it dry.


Step Seven: If you want to add one more detail, take some fake moss and glue it onto some areas on your gravestone! This will make it really pop and it looks like the gravestones are so old that moss grew on it. And with that, you have some really wicked looking gravestones that you can keep for years to come! Now go ahead and put it in your yard! I can guarantee people will comment on how cool they look. To make sure the gravestones don’t blow away, you can take tent stakes and that will keep them in place.

I hope you and your family enjoy this Halloween project, and if you do end up giving it a try this year - don’t forget to tag @violetandhawthorn in the process so we can see too. Happy Halloween everyone!

Leave a comment

* Required fields

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.