Halloween Decoration: How to Make Human-Size Ghosts
Chicken wire and gauze come together to create ghoulish ghost figures that can stand on their own or fly from the trees.
These lightweight ghosts are right at home in a haunted house, flying from a tree or standing on a porch or patio to greet trick-or-treaters.
If you want to hang your ghosts from a tree or porch, you can make half figures, which are just the torso, head and legs. Leave the fabric long so it billows in the breeze.
If you want a full-size standalone ghost, you'll need to add the legs and skirt to the figure.
- wire cutters
- wire hanger
- work gloves
- mannequin head
- roll of chicken wire with 1-inch cells
- roll of chicken wire with 2-inch cells
- thin wire
- semi-transparent fabric
Step 1: Cut Chicken Wire
Wear protective gloves and cut a 24-inch length of chicken wire from a 1-inch (cell) roll of chicken wire.
Step 2: Form the Shape of the Head
Bend chicken wire over a head form or use a human head-sized ball like a basketball. Bend the excess wire toward the back. Form a rough neck shape. Remove the head form and reshape as needed. Set wire head aside for later.
Step 3: Form the Torso
The torso will consist of two pieces, an inner and an outer to give the ghost figure extra support.
For the outer torso piece, cut a 40-inch piece of chicken wire out of the 1-inch cell. To create the torso cylinder, overlap ends and twist. The tube cylinder is 24 inches high. Pinch cells to form waist and shoulder points (left).
Create an inner torso cylinder out of the 2-inch cell chicken wire (right). Make the diameter smaller than the outer piece at its small point.
Step 4: Create Support
Fit the inner torso piece into the outer torso. Use scrap pieces of wire to hold the two pieces together.
Step 5: Form the Arms
Cut a 32-inch length from a 1-inch cell chicken wire roll. Cut it in half lengthways. Form two cylinders for arms. Pinch at elbow and wrist joints for both arms. Twist small wire at elbow joint to hold bent position.
Step 6: Attach Body Forms
Use small wires to attach both arms to torso. Twist wire ends of the head base to the top of torso and shoulder area.
Step 7: Add Shoulder Support
Untwist the wire coat hanger or use strong wire to insert into the back along shoulders and arms for support. This will help give the shoulders extra support and help the arms stay in place.
Step 8: Form the Legs
If you plan on hanging your ghost, you can skip making the legs and move to Step 12.
Roll a 4-foot length of 2-inch cell chicken wire into two cylinder shapes. Twist the cell ends to the back to hold shape. Create two of these so you'll have four cylinders (image 2).
Wrap a 42-inch piece of the 1-inch cell chicken wire around the two pieces (image 2). Twist the ends at the seams to hold.
Step 9: Attach Base to Torso
Create a tube using 1-inch cell chicken wire, and cut it in half (image 1).
Place finished edges down (image 1). Use wire to attach one piece to the bottom of the torso and the second to the backside of the first piece, slightly squished (image 2).
Step 10: Create Skirt
On a 36-inch length of a 1-inch cell wire, create four curved folds down the length (image 1). Attach a fold length to the front of the waist with wire. Create 40-inch length folds and attach to back of the waist. Bend the end portion outward like a dress train (image 2).
Step 11: Complete Body Form
Create two more 36-inch panels from the 1-inch cell wire with folds down the length. Attach to right and left sides of the waist. These will help balance the figure.
The figure can be posed as desired. If needed, use small pieces of wire to help keep the arms in place. A small piece of wire can be used to hold the elbow in a bent position for holding a lantern.
Step 12: Cover With Cheesecloth
Cover the head, arms, torso and waist with a single layer of cheesecloth. This will conceal the chicken wire slightly. Leave long lengths hanging down from the hands.
Add layers of sheer fabric pieces (we used old sheer curtains). First, create a poncho fabric square with a slit cut for the head. Use scrap fabric for the belt, and tie it around the waist. Add additional pieces draped over arms, hands and head. Add additional skirt sections and tie together where needed.
Step 13: Hang Half-Figure Ghosts
Once all the fabric has been added, cut holes and long tattered end pieces. Smaller figures should be light enough to be suspended with string or strong fishing line. Black garden planter stakes can also be used to hold the half-figures up off the ground and so they appear to float at night.
Being lightweight, these grave ghosts can be put just about anywhere. When lit from behind, their transparent forms make these ghosts very spooky. Use additional stakes to keep them from being blown over and be sure not to place hot lights near the ghost's fabric body.
Lynne and Shawn Mitchell have a website called How to Haunt Your House. They have also authored How to Haunt Your House books I and II.