Friday, May 20, 2011

How to Fit a Tombstone into a Suitcase

Me "helping" Chris Davis (aka the Frog Queen) 
The second annual West Coast Haunters Convention was held last weekend in Salem, Oregon.
It's always fun when you meet up with people who share the same passions.

seen in the convention's parking lot

When I heard there was to be a seminar where I could learn to make a lovely tombstone in the style of those in the Davis Graveyard, I made sure to bring along an extra piece of luggage just to bring my tombstone home in.

There were 15 students in the seminar, and everyone worked at their own pace. As usual, I took too many pictures and fell behind a bit. This became a slight problem when we ran out of black paint. I felt badly, because a new can of black paint was obtained pretty much just for me:(

Here I am using an Exacto knife to cut out the epithat "Barry M. Deep".  
These were much bigger tombstones than I'm used to making. These were chest high, and pretty wide. My final product is on the left in this picture (I regret making the scratch marks. I guess my technique with the rasp needs refining.)

In order to fit this in my suitcase -which was the maximum allowable size for checked luggage without having to pay "oversized luggage" fees-  it would have to be broken into 3 pieces. My epithat and decorative element are placed a little high to allow for the breaks. The Davis Graveyard crew had already routed and glued 2 lengths  of PVC pipes into the backs of the stones in order to fit over rebar to stablize them. The first break would be just past the PVC piping.
And this is how you break a tombstone! Chris Davis does it with ease and you can hear Jeff Davis giving some encouragement in the background. Now it fits in my suitcase just fine.
We had bought teeshirts from three vendors at the  convention's tradeshow, so I used those and other clothes to pad them and make sure they didn't shift and get damaged.
skewers through the back keep the pieces connected
Once home, I reassembled them with a little spritz with water and a few dabs of Gorilla Glue. Chris said to secure the connection by jamming skewers partway in at an angle, and breaking off the excess skewer once the glue has dried.

Afterwards, only minimal touch-up painting need be done.

Another tombstone tip I learned at the convention came from Terry Marsh of the Mize Cemetery and Haunt. He makes great  tombstone embellishments by making a mold from a twin-pack of Hostess cupcakes. The tutorial is here.
tombstone embellishment made from a pack of cupcakes!
Did I mention that the convention was held at the site of the 141-year old Oregon School for the Deaf? 

You may recall they were featured on Extreme Home Makeover- Halloween Edition in 2010. The EHM team and many volunteers worked to create a new dorm for the boys, as shown here. You may not be aware that this new dorm only has 2 bedrooms, and they need 40 (2 boys per room). Soooo,  no one lives here yet! Their current slogan for fundraising is called Continue the Dream- Help Finish the Build. You can donate by clicking here.

The EHM team also remade the schools haunt, The Nightmare Factory. Having seen it at last years' convention, I agree: the haunt did get a very extreme makeover. Which is not only fun, but helpful- the school uses the annual haunt as a fundraiser. So many people wanted to see the EMH changes, they ran the haunt an extra 2 weeks past Halloween.

One of the additions was in the queue for the haunt. It was this photo op where you put your head through the hole for the bride or groom:

One amusing incident happened on the way home. My love Dennis had bought 3 skulls at the tradeshow from The Skull Shoppe (shown here.)

On the way back home, the security agents at the Portland Airport pulled him aside after his belongings went through the x-ray machine. They wanted to hand search his carry-on. But before they even zipped it open, they asked, "are the skulls inside of here real?"


  1. I would have loved to see the faces of the security agents when they saw the x-ray of the skulls. Makes me laugh just thinking about it! Wish I would have know about the con. I live just about 30 miles away from Salem. Maybe next year we can get together and talk "Haunt." BTW love your tombstone it turned out great!

  2. Ha! Great story, posted this link to our FB! Thank you Dennis!!!

    The Skull Shoppe.


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