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Papier-Mâché Skull

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Make a dramatic Dia de los Muertos decoration from inexpensive materials and your own custom designs.

Papier-mache skull for Dias de los Muertos display

Project Overview

Skill Level

Beginner

Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost

$$$$$

Tools & Materials

Tools

  • Leather work gloves
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Plastic drop cloth or sheet
  • Mixing pail
  • Permanent markers
  • Painting supplies

Materials

  • Newspaper
  • 24-in x 25-ft poultry netting, #92679
  • Titebond wood glue, 16 ounces, #86092
  • Valspar spray paint, white
  • Valspar Signature satin interior paint, 8-ounces: Dark Kettle Black (#4011-2), Rushing Stream (#5005-10B), Berrylicious (#1005-1A), Yellow Chimes (#3011-1), Orange Fruit (#2011-1), Shallow Valley (#6011-9), Flower Girl (#1005-1C), Purple Royalty (#4009-10)

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown.

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Instructions

Shape the Wire Form

Step 1

Unroll 4 feet of poultry netting and cut it from the roll. Allow the netting section to curl back into a cylinder and twist the wires together where the ends meet. This should create a cylinder 2 feet tall.

Good to Know

The ends of the wire can be sharp. Protect your hands with leather work gloves and protect your eyes with safety glasses.

Step 2

Lay the wire cylinder on a flat surface. With the seam centered against the surface, bend the wire in two places to form a flat back about 16 inches wide. Leave the upper half rounded. If you make a mistake, bend the wire back as it was and try again.

Step 3

To form the shape of the skull in the rounded portion, start with a slightly flatter and wider section for the top of the skull and a narrower, rounded shape on the bottom half. Then add the smaller shapes and creases such as those for the brow and mouth, for example. Leave the top and bottom open.

Good to Know

If you plan to display the skull standing on a table instead of hanging on a wall, check that the bottom opening is even and doesn’t tilt the figure.

Apply the Papier-Mâché

Step 1

Cut strips of newspaper about 1 inch wide and the length of the page. Prepare a papier-mâché solution of four parts wood glue to one part water and mix thoroughly. Dip the strips of paper into the solution until they’re soaked and begin laying them on the back of the wire shape. Lay both horizontal and vertical strips until the wire is covered to around the edges. Ends of the horizontal strips should span the back and be tucked into the sides a couple inches from the edges of the back.

Good to Know

For a good bond to the wire, tuck a few inches of the ends of each strip through and around the wire so it bonds with the paper. This also gives the front strips a solid surface to grip.

 

Step 2

Turn the figure over and apply glue-soaked strips to the front. Make sure the strips follow the contours of the wire without lifting free; leave the top and bottom open. After the front is covered and dry, use a foam brush to apply a layer of the papier-mâché solution to the entire figure.

Step 3

After the final coat of glue mixture dries, spray on two or more coats of white paint.

Step 4

Decorated papier-mache skull
Select the decorations or theme of your choice to decorate the skull after painting it white.

With a pencil, lightly draw a design on the skull and paint the design of your choice. After the paint dries, add outlines and details with a permanent marker. If you like, add artificial flowers to the top.