Halloween is my thing. I love the fun and slightly edgy vibe at Halloween, the tricks, the treats, the colors and the general attitude of folks as they wander about looking at front yard displays ranging from the grizzly macabre to a fifteen foot dragon made of polyester and hot air, everyone get’s to release their inner child at Halloween.
Back about ten years ago I started making “Ghosties”. I made three originally and now I’m up to eight. If I have the time (which, since I opened my Etsy shop, I don’t much anymore, especially around Halloween) I like to add a new ghostie every year.
These guys are so easy to setup and every Halloween I try a different arrangement. As you can probably make out from the photos, my front yard is quite small which is a good thing as it helps keep me in check. I’m afraid if I had a large space to work with I’d need two storage units and a garage to hold all my outdoor display ideas.
Sometimes I’ve grouped them in “ring-around-the-rosie” circles, other times they line the walk way up to the steps and sometimes just random groupings of “older” ghosties herding the “little ones” up to the porch. But this year I though levitating a few would be fun so the middle three are suspended on cords so they appear to be floating up to the porch for their turn at trick-or-treating.
Night photos are tricky (thanks hubby) this gives you an idea of how versatile the ghosties are, whether it’s dark or light they’re a fun display. And, if the winds blowing, even better, as their ghostly rags flutter at the slightest breeze. These are tough little ghosties, too. As some have been outside year after year in all kinds of weather and their ragged appearance only improves with age. Originally, none of them had any “costumes” on but as personalities developed, a number of my ghosties started dressing up for Halloween. Some have brief masks, one has devil horns, another a witch’s hat and tame spider. A ghostie toddler has two black butterflies she adores and yet another has a headband with bats on springs!
According to my neighbors, my ghosties have become a favorite in the neighborhood which, I freely admit, just makes me feel wonderful! So to pass that goodness along I thought I’d do a “how to” on making ghosties, I hope you enjoy.
Supplies: Metal Tomato Rack, Lighted Plastic Pumpkin, Yards and Yards of Cheese Cloth, Hot Glue Gun
I just found this great new pumpkin (Minnie Mouse) at Walgreen’s (remember to keep an open mind for crafting materials, folks). I usually pick up my pumpkins and tomato racks at garage sales where they’re super cheap – like only a buck or two but this was too cute to pass up, and in my thrifty defense, it was on sale. I always use the kind that plugs in, and it’s preferable if the position of the light bulb is up high like this one, where as many are at the base. Half of my ghosties have the light at the base, it’s okay, it just makes it a bit more challenging if you have to change the light bulb. The pumpkin to the right is more along the lines of what I usually use. Minnie’s ears should prove to be interesting.
First off, the tomato rack, turn it upside down and bend two legs out to the side, these will be the “arms”. The third leg gets bent to the center, this is where the pumpkin head gets mounted. True confession time, I’ve tried a number of different ways to do this part from heating the wire and spearing the pumpkin onto it, to just gobs of hot glue to hold it on with a few other attempts in between. Nothing works perfectly and you may have to do a little onsite repair from time to time. But for the most part, they hold up very well. On this one, I made a flat curl of the the third wire and then I heated an awl and poked two holes on each side of the pumpkin down low. Then I ran thin wire through the holes and just tied the head down to the curl. Worked pretty good!
So I just gobbed on the glue and Minnie here is ready for her ghost dress. You can find cheese cloth in bulk at craft stores but you should have 8-10 yards per ghostie to start with. Roughly guestimate how much you’ll need to drape one panel going from the ground up and over the head and down to the ground on the other side, cut raggedly. Put a blob of hot glue on the head and drape that piece over. From there on it’s just keep adding cuts of cheesecloth, anchored by glue, until you get the look you want. It doesn’t take a lot of glue to keep the cloth in place, either. For the “hands”, I’ve tried a couple of methods: 1. just make a knot of cheese cloth and glue it to the tips of the wire. 2. I’ve glued small balls of Styrofoam or wood beads onto the wire tips. Either way, you need something on the ends to anchor your cheese cloth drapings, otherwise the wire will just push through the cheesecloth and you’ll wind up with a bare wire arm sticking out there.
At this point she looks a bit bulky – where’s the great wispy and shredded look the other’s have? If you want it to get “aged” immediately just wet it down with the hose. Otherwise, a few days outside in weather will do the trick nicely. Like I said, these get better with age, but each year I do usually add a new layer of cheese cloth to spots that may have weathered out to be a bit thin looking in appearance.
And now after a little wetting down –
See how much more “ragged and shredded” she looks now?
These ghosties are very lightweight (which I suppose is quite appropriate, don’t you think) so you will need to anchor them down. If they’re out on the lawn, I use garden pins.
I usually use three pins spaced around the base and just drive them in tight to the ground. The ghosts can still wiggle and wobble a bit with the wind (which looks so cool) but they’ll remain upright. If they’re on something solid then just place a couple of bricks or little sandbags to secure them in place.
I hope you give this project a shot, my ghosties have been tons of fun for me over the years and they store away in my attic through the long hot Idaho summers with no problems at all. Have fun, and Craft On !