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, any type you’d like (check your local dollar store)
- 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
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 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.
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.
Where Should Your Skull Rest in Peace?
You can do practically anything with this cool skull. Here are a few ideas:
- Have it be a prop in your witch’s kitchen.
- 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.
- Straighten 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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)!