Okay kiddies, listen closely.This
is the only hard and true fact of making foam tombstones that I know of:
aerosol paint will melt bare foam. Always base paint the tombstone
first with a latex paint. Make sure it's totally covered, even a pinhole
in the basecoat will let in the propellant and your foam will disintegrate.
From experience I can tell you this usually occurs in the worst spot--the
epitaph. I have lost entire phrases. Go over all engraving carefully and
touch up any bare spots. Base painting your stone in a similar shade to the
granite spray will save money as you can use less to cover the stone, however
contrasting colours can make for interesting effects. As always, do not be
afraid to experiment
A quick side tip:
Hammer a nail into the drip trough of your paint can. Excess paint will drain back into the can and the lid won't stick so badly.
Another nifty tip posted to the list by Jawbone: set up your carved and base painted stone outside. Spray the tombstone with your garden hose making sure to completely wet it. Spraypaint a small section of the wet tombstone with black or grey spray paint and hose it off immediately. Do not use a hard spray, just shower it, letting the paint run down in rivulets. The spraypaint will stick to some areas more readily than others and run down, creating a dark and creepy aged effect. Experiment, you'll see what I mean. It's only scary the first time. Try combining this method with the wet warping technique.
If you have a little extra cash to spare, Plasti-Kote makes a product called Fleck Stone, a faux granite finish effect spray. This spraypaint comes out in different subtly coloured "specks". It comes
in different colours, mostly greys, beige, brown, some blue or green. It
is a little on the expensive side, $7 - $10 a can, but if you plan to keep
your stones for a long time, I find it is well worth the extra money invested.
After your basepaint is completely dry, simply spray on a light coat of Granite Spray. If you need a heavier cover use a second coat after the first is dry, as opposed to spraying heavily once. Once the granite spray is dry, seal it with a clear topcoat. Plasti-Kote makes an exterior clear top coat designed specifically for the granite spray. It's fairly inexpensive, tough and one can will seal quite a few tombstones.
I love using the garden hose painting technique over this.
Most old tombstones do not have recessed areas of designs and epitaphs painted of course, but it is at this time we have to balance the idea of realism with the theatrical. You want your designs to be seen, your epitaphs to be readable, even under the most subdued night lighting. My favorite way to do this is to fill in these areas with a watered down black or grey acrylic paint, just dark enough to look like natural dirt inside lettering and recessed areas. An eyedropper, a small brush and some paper towels (for the occasional "oops") is really all you need. After dry, another quick coat of a sealer is a good idea.
Look at the difference between a water painted stone without accent and with: