The Art of Darkness

Coffin Menu

July 18th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Coffin MenuMorbid Anatomy mentioned this menu a while back; it’s a 1907 menu for a convention banquet held by a chapter of Skull and Bones.

I think a do-it-yourself version would be splendid at a Halloween-themed dinner party or goth wedding.

The menu could be made of heavy cardstock; the slightly-smaller layer on top could be a contrasting color of cardstock or perhaps something soft like felt (it’s hard to tell from the picture, but the contrast layer looks kind of softish). I wouldn’t recommend using velvet because of its tendency to fray at the edges and get “dust” all over everything.

You will cut out:

  • Two pieces of heavy cardstock for the menu front and back

  • One piece of cardstock, colored paper or felt, slightly smaller than the menu front, which will be the top contrast. (I guess you could do a contrast on the back, too, if you’re feeling motivated.)

  • Two pieces of colored paper, the same size as the top contrast, for the inside contrast.

  • One piece of a light-colored paper, slightly smaller than the inside contrast, which will be for your menu.

Here’s a pattern to help with your dimensions. It’s at half-size, so print at 200%.

Use a glue stick to attach the top contrast to the menu front, leaving an even border on all sides. Do the same on the inside with the menu front and back and the inside contrast pieces. Let dry.

Now it’s time for the menu itself. Depending upon your level of ambition (and your handwriting), you can cut out the paper and then hand-write the menu on it. You can also print the menu before cutting out the coffin shape as long as you make sure your margins won’t intrude on the pattern edges. Alternately, you can write or print the menu on a rectangle of cardstock and just glue it inside. Once you’ve written or printed your menu, glue it on top of the inside back contrast piece. (Note: If you’d like to re-use your menus, use something like 3M’s Spray Mount or other artist’s adhesive to stick down the menu. Then you can peel it off and stick down a new one later.)

Put the menu front and back together and use a hole punch to make two holes near the top. Thread some velvet ribbon through the holes and tie the ends in a bow. Make sure you leave enough “give” in the ribbon that your guests can lift the top and read the menu. (Instead of ribbon, you could also use something like heavy jewelry chain as your menu hinge.)

Finally, use a bit of hot glue to affix a skull or other spooky decoration on the front. The popularity of certain pirate movies means that skull-and-crossbones charms are easy to find. (Here’s a cute one from Auntie’s Beads.) You can use any other charm or button that strikes you, just as long as it’s reasonably flat on the back and fairly lightweight.

You could get an assembly-line technique going and turn out a lot of these in a short amount of time. They’d be a neat keepsake for your guests to take home after a special dinner party.

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