How to make ghost figures

The falling leaves of October means Halloween is on the way and I felt inspired to create some lovely ghostly figures, a full project booklet and template can be downloaded below.  The brilliant thing about this project is that while you can use traditional clay it can be completed using DAS air drying clay, so no kiln is required.

To make ghosts from clay you’ll need to roll the clay to approximately 0.5cm thick, cut around the downloaded template and remove the excess clay.  Smooth the edges with a finger and then wrap the clay round to form a cone. Take a ball headed sculpting tool and place it inside the ghost cone until it reaches the head, gently press the clay over the ball to create a rounded head.  Using a straight tool, create the pleated look by squeezing clay around the tool.  Poke out two eyes and leave to dry (use a hairdryer if you’re in a hurry).  Decorate with acrylic paint in whatever style you like!

This is a good fun project to do on your own or with others.  The ghosts are quick to make and creating a few will allow you to really let your creativity loose when it comes to the final decoration of each.

Things you’ll need to make clay ghosts:

  • Clay (I’ve used DAS modelling clay)
  • Rolling pin
  • Knife
  • Ball headed sculpting tool
  • Ball stylus
  • Paint brush
  • Acrylic paint
  • Ghost template (download below)

Method for making ghost figures:

Start by opening your clay and cutting about 2.5cm to 5cm depending on how many ghosts you want to create.  You need enough to roll out and place the template on.  Remember to wrap up the rest of the pack.  Work the clay with your hands, this helps warm the clay up and makes it easy to roll out.

On a flat, hard, surface use a rolling pin and roll the clay until it’s approximately 0.5cm thick.  Roll it forwards, backwards, left and right to get an even layer.  It doesn’t matter if the edges are a little thicker, like a pizza crust, as you’ll be cutting these away.

Place the template onto the clay and cut around it using a sharp knife.  Remove the excess clay, add it back to the pack for later use.

Smooth the edges of your cut shape with your finger.  Now for the magic part, you’re going to turn the flat sheet into a ghost!

Pick the sheet up and wrap it round to create a cone shape, the template will give you a large bottom and a smaller top.  Press the two sides together and smooth one side over the other so they join.  Take your time, it’s important to make sure the two sides are firmly joined and that the bottom is level, you should be able to stand the ghost up at this stage (it’ll look more like a cone than a ghost).

Take a ball headed tool and place inside the ghost cone until it reaches the head, but don’t press through the top.  Gentle press the clay over the ball head to create a rounded head for your ghost, smoothing over any visible joins until they disappear.

With the head shaped it’s time to move on to creating the pleated effect.  This is achieved by placing a straight tool (a pen or pencil would work if you don’t have a dedicated tool) into the side of the sheet and pinching around it.  Don’t overdo this as you may break the clay.

Repeat this pleating action several times around the bottom of the ghost to create a waving look to the sheet.

Poke out eye holes.  You can try different eye shapes, I think an oval shape on a slight angle works best but feel free to experiment.

That’s it!  You’ve created a ghost!  Now it needs to dry before being decorated. Can’t wait speed up the process by using a hair dryer. Once you’ve got the hang of this the making part doesn’t take long.

Once dry get creative with the decoration.  I’ve used acrylic paint on my creations and have tried a few different decorations:

  • Mix paint with a little water and sprinkle on for a paint splattering look
  • Paint top to bottom in a single colour
  • Mix paint with water then allow it to run down the ghosts sheet

These are just a few ideas to get you started, I’d love to see what you come up with.  Share them on Instagram and tag @cabincermics.