Make a Decaying Mummy Skull Prop

I love Halloween, and I love Halloween projects.

And by the way, I’m seriously lazy.

So when a friend of mine told me he had a great, terrifying-looking, gory, easy prop to show me, I was all in! But even I (the corner-cutting queen) was rather delightfully surprised at how easy this really was. Together, my friend and I created three creepy decaying skulls in less than 10 minutes.

And the best part? They were cheap to make…very cheap. Yet they looked incredible. Want in on my friend’s and my little secret? Follow the directions below.

How to Make Your Skull

You will need:

  • A plastic novelty skull
  • Saran Wrap or bargain/store brand cling wrap
  • A heat gun OR a hair dryer with a “high” setting
  • Any medium to dark color wood stain or crafts paint
  • Paint brush, sponge/crafts brush or stippling brush

Directions:

1. Wrap the plastic wrap COMPLETELY around the skull, including the bottom, at least 4-5 times. (The more you layer, the more “decaying skin” you’ll get, but don’t go overboard. We found 4 times was our minimum to produce a really good result.)

2. If your heat gun or hair dryer has settings, start on the lowest unless it is a “cool shot” setting. Wear protective gloves if you wish; otherwise, WATCH OUT, YOUR SKULL WILL GET HOT. Hold the heat source approximately 4” from your skull. The plastic wrap will begin to shrivel in some areas; in others, where the heat is concentrated for more than several seconds, you will achieve holes (see pic, below). Don’t overdo this; melt a little bit at a time, all around the area of your skull.

Skull Holes Halloween decor

3. Do NOT hold the heat source directly against the plastic wrap/the skull. If the wrap is melting too slowly, turn up the heat source in increments and/or hold it closer to the skull, but never closer than 1.5” away.

4. When you have the effect you want, set the skull aside to cool completely.

5. After your project is cool, dip your paint brush into a small circle of paint or dip no more than 1/4” deep into your wood stain. Begin painting your skull. You will want to paint it all over; inconsistencies in color are a good thing and add to the realism, so don’t worry about painting “perfectly.”

6. Allow the project to dry completely, about 10 minutes.

Decaying skull Halloween prop

Where Should Your Skull Rest in Peace?

You can do practically anything with this cool skull. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Have it be a prop in your witch’s kitchen.
  2. Set it up next to a candelabra (I suggest battery-operated flicker candles for safety) with faux cobwebs all over to make an awesome, spooky and very realistic-looking party centerpiece or decoration.
  3. Skull Halloween PropStraighten the curved top of a wire hanger using wire cutters or a bending tool. Stuff the head with cotton balls or cheese cloth; anything to create bulk and resistance. Stick the point of the straightened end at least halfway up into the skull, so it’s on the hanger firmly. Drape cheesecloth from the “shoulders” of the hanger, allowing them to float. Hang so your decaying ghost floats in the autumn breeze.
  4. Using the above idea, hang an old shirt from the hanger’s “shoulders.” Stuff the shirt with any material you have on hand to bulk it up. Place the torso on a chair near the area your trick-or-treaters will be approaching. Now take an old pair of pants and stuff them similarly; place on the chair, bending the knee area and placing the cuffs at ground level. Gather each cuff and stuff it into a shoe. Very scary and very cool!
  5. Stuff the head with cotton balls or pieces of styrofoam. (If using cotton balls, stuff very firmly.) Stick a tall dowel – 5-6 feet – into the cotton or styrofoam. Carry with you as an evil walking stick or wizard’s wand; dress in draping clothing and, if you wish, a scary mask.
  6. Remove the head from a life size (or at least 4′) plastic poseable skeleton. Carefully remove the head that came with the skeleton using the easiest and safest means; some pop right off – if so, you’re in luck. If not, you may have to cut to remove the skull – BE CAREFUL. Stuff your mummified skull with any method mentioned above; stick firmly down onto the now-empty top of the spinal column of your skull, replacing the manufacturer’s skull with your mummified one. Set up your creeped-up skeleton in a faux spider web, leaning against your front steps to scare the ghost out of trick-or-treaters, etc.

Have fun with this prop. It’s versatile and if you pack it away carefully after Halloween, you can reuse it year after year. And it’s so inexpensive, you can create a whole army of ghouls if you wish. Happy haunting (and creeping-up)!

Steampunk Costume Ideas

While it’s inching its way into the mainstream in super-cool techno/throwback style, steampunk is still uncharted territory for many. If you haven’t experienced the joys of this phab and very sexy trend, grab some goggles, a long duster (coat) and something mechanical and let’s get punk-y this Halloween!

The Steampunk Recipe:

  • 1/3 whimsical Victorian past
  • 1/3 clunky, adventurous future machinery (if oil fuel was never invented)
  • 1/3 punk mayhem, anarchy, and unrest
  • 1 generous helping of corsets, bustles, petticoats, and vests
  • 1 scoop of flying machines, clockworks, optical apparatus
  • 1 sprinkle of Final Fantasy, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Van Helsing, Wild Wild West, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, anything 60s James Bond, Mad Max, and Sherlock Holmes (the Downey version, of course)

steampunk costumeKeep in mind that this recipe is only the starting place. Like any good formula, variations on a theme can produce magnificent results! T

You in? Let’s get started with these tips and ideas for becoming your Steampunk fantasy:

Steampunkize” a familiar character…perhaps one for which you already have the “ingredients.”

For example, dress like a historical figure gone futuristic such as Steampunk Honest Abe. You need a top hat, beard, black coat, and a few Steampunkish trappings like a pocket watch, goggles, and old typewriter keys for buttons. Spray paint an old vacuum cleaner hose gold or silver and affix it to a similarly colored small backpack to mimic a futuristic jet pack.

Makeover a favorite past persona. Do you love old Westerns? Burlesque? Explorers a la Lewis and Clarke? Take a basic costume such as this burlesque outfit and add Steampunk flair with suitable gadgets like vintage gauges, brooches, and clocks. Add a hat adorned with clockworks or googles for the perfect Steampunk touch.

steampunk watchWork from a favorite item. Have a beloved corset? Own a killer bowler hat? How about an old watch you can glue gears and kewl stuff to? Know where to get a debonair handlebar mustache? If so, you’re halfway to your Steampunk dream. Browse the web for inspiration and consider what items you already have that can be dressed up with a little help.

Peruse your local thrift and antique stores for more inspiration. Afterall, this is a movement made of creativity, and customization is key!

Steampunk cowboy costumeStill having trouble with your Steampunk costume design? Check out these ideas for inspiration:

First, raid your local thrift store or shop online for Steampunk accessories. Depending on which look you want, gather a variety of metal gears, buckles, clock faces, and brooches. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for old lace or leather gloves, garters, and handlebar mustaches (always a plus for the fellas).

Steampunkers love to include images of octopuses, owls, and peacocks. Jewelry or other gear that reference those fantastical creatures is a major plus!

Aeronaut:

  1. Get a basic flight costume.
  2. Wear an aviator helmet and glasses.
  3. Put a Steampunk touch on this great costume with vintage metal pilot’s wings, affixing several old brooches to your belt, and distressed leather gloves.
  4. Add a futuristic jet pack:

 

  • Spray paint a small cardboard box or backpack and various hoses gold
  • Attach these hoses to the box along with two straps, which you can create with old belts or rope

Mad Victorian Scientist:

  1. Wear a vintage suit or dress under a white lab coat.
  2. Add futuristic over-the-coat shoulder plates by affixing small portions of scrap metal or spray-painted cardboard pieces. Or buy an industry rubber apron.
  3. Attach a stopwatch to your lab coat pocket and wear a monocle.
  4. Carry an old cane and an outdated medical book in your lab coat pocket.

Future cowgirl/cowboy

  1. Invest in a cowgirl/cowboy costume or put together your own outfit with a short leather or denim skirt/distressed jeans, a brown or black leather vest, and some rugged boots.
  2. Accessorize with a cowboy hat, lasso, and toy gun (plus holster!) Note: as a Steampunker, your weaponry is now known as a “raygun.” No pistols here!
  3. Add that Steampunk touch by affixing machinist goggles to your hat and various vintage accessories to your belt of sleeves.
  4. Customize your toy gun with metal gears and spray paint it gold or silver for a futuristic look.

Go forth and steampunk!