In this very quick and easy  tutorial I make 8 skulls in one afternoon using one shop bought skull as a template.

You will need

  1. One shop bought skull  to use as a template – preferably one where you can move the jaw. I bought this one for €2.50 in Homestore & More.
  2. Scissors, masking tape, cellphane wrap, sellotape
  3. Colours – whatever you have, such as paints, crayons, markers.
  4. Battery operated candles. The ones that flicker are best.
  5. String or wire to hang the skulls.

Making the Skulls

Take the shop bought skull and cover it in the cellophane wrap. make sure it is completely covered. Then wrap the head in one layer of sellotape. then wrap the head in one layer of masking tape. This leaves the head very light, like a balloon, but gives it just enough strength. You could use two layers of masking tape instead of the sellotape, but the sellotape is transparent and the more masking tape you put on the more opaque the head will be – which is fine if you are not putting lights inside.

Colour the Skulls

Colouring in the details is very easy. If you have used white masking tape you do not have to paint the whole skull. Just leave it as it is. You then use a marker, paint or whatever you want to colour in the eyes, nose and mouth. The rest of the details are shading, such as the hollows in the cheeks and drawing in the teeth. Don’t be too careful. The aims is to create weathered grungy skulls, so you should darken some teeth so that they are missing, and one trick that works well on masking tape is to use the tape itself to create cracks and scars. If you are painting, make sure the brush is quite dry with a bit of colour and lightly stroke the skull all over. The lines of tape will catch the colour and create wonderful cracks that really look great, with minimum effort.

Prepare the skulls for the candles

You simply place the candles inside the skull where you have left the neck opening. If you are leaving the skulls on a table then this is all you need to do. If you are hanging up the skulls then you will need some wire. Unfortunately you will have to put a little hole in the candle. It is easy because battery operated candles are still made of wax. The candle will still be fine if you want to reuse it for Christmas, which I always do.

Put a little hole in the top of the skull and a little hole in the side of a candle. Wrap the wire through the hole in the candle and push the other end of the wire up through the hold in the inside of the skull. You can then pull the skull down over the candle. The on/off switch of the candle is at the bottom where the skull opening is, so you can easily switch on and off the candle when it is hung up. The length of the wire depends on where you are going to hang the skull.

Hang the Skulls

The good news is that the skulls are very light, but the candles can be heavy, so you need to be able to hang them onto something that will hold sufficiently. I am hanging them in a small window with Venetian blinds, so I am using the blind cord holders at the sides of the blinds to wrap a heavy wire – like a tightrope.. I then wrap the wire from the skulls onto the tightrope.

There are a lot of things you can do to dress up the skulls. One idea is to drape cobwebs all over them. This will also make the cobwebs light up when the candles are switched on and totally adds to the hellfire effect. I am not going to do anything else with mine, as they will be looking out of a small window at the corner of my house, so any “Trick or Treaters” coming up the road can not miss them!

What I love about these skulls is that I can turn them towards the window to show to welcome the Trick or Treaters and then turn them inwards for the Halloween party afterwards! 🙂
Now I do have to admit that you might find it a pain to turn on the candles one by one every night. I don’t mind it, but making sure the bottom of the candle is just at the neck opening helps a lot. Also, you can get candles that work on a timer and just set the timer to go on a dusk.

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