Introduction: Enlightened Calavera

Something simple and elegant for a Day of the Dead display.

Follow this link for a video:

Step 1: Gathering Your Supplies

Craft Store:

  • Flowers (Michaels)
  • washy tape (floral tape if you have any)
  • skull (Michaels)

Electronic Supply Store:

  • LED (276-0017 Radio Shack)
  • PIR sensor (276-0033 Radio Shack)
  • Arduino Uno
  • Rubberband(not an electronic supply)
  • Adafruit Female/Male 'Extension' Jumpers
  • 9v Battery holder
  • 9v Battery with switch

Step 2: Tools

Wire Snipers

Washi Tape

Hot Glue Gun

Glue Sticks

Step 3: Putting Together Your "Enlightened Calavera"

The Skulls Crown

The main tools you will be using for this part of the project are wire cutters and washi tape( painters tape and floral tape work just as well).

Large Flower

  1. You will need to separate and cut 5 large flower stems from your artificial flower bouquet with wire cutters.
  2. Remove the flower at the base of the main stem. Caution:You will use the length of the stem to help create the curve of your crown. Don't cut too close to the blossom.
  3. Once you have single flower stems remove the leaves and put them aside, you will need them later.
  4. Remove five leaf clusters. Keep three as double leaf clusters and cut one of the clusters in half.

Accent Flower

  1. The accent flower should be small in comparison to the larger flowers. Cut them into clusters of three. These clusters will be hot glued into place after you have created the crown.

Molding the Crown

  • You are now ready to form your crown. This is a free form design that you will shape with the aid of the skull. The shape of the crown is dictated by the shape of the skull.
  • You will start with one large flower and create a curve in the stem. Use your skull as a guide.
  • Because the large flower clusters are plastic coated wire it will be easy to mold the wire to your skulls shape. Grab a second flower and place it an inch away from the first. hold firmly and tape them together. Adjust the flower blossom so that they both face out.
  • Continue to do this until you have 4 blossoms side by side taped next to each other in sequence.
  • For the last flower stem. remove the blossom and put aside. Mold the stem and tape as you did the others to form the crown.
  • Now wrap the plastic wire with the tape one more time to ensure sturdiness.
  • Once you have a crown shape you are happy with hot glue the blossom that was removed back onto the stem at the stub it was removed from.

Apply the Accent flowers

  • Apply the flower blossoms randomly around the crown. You could stop at this point and have a beautiful halloween prop, but why stop here, let's get to the flashing light!

Step 4: Breadboarding Your Sensor and LED

This is a really simple setup.

Because I would be placing the skull onto a flat surface I opted for a bare bones approach. I attached the LED straight to pin 13 and GND. The PIR sensor is attached to pin3 with power set up on 5v and the GND pin next to 5v pin. Easy peasy. The Adafruit male/female jumpers are indispensable for extending the reach of the sensor. I used the 9v battery holder with switch that came with my Arduino kit. I then used a rubber band to secure the Arduino to the battery holder. Note: make sure and keep the switch facing out, away from the Arduino. I then hot glued two of the four square end corners of the fresnel lens onto the edge of an eye socket inside the skull.

* I am adding a sweet link to a great example of a set up on a proto shield for those of you who would like to use that kind of setup.

Step 5: The Code

For the Code I used the PIRsense code from Arduino Playground. Its a simple code that allows for calibrating the sensor and debugging from your Serial Monitor before you attach the Arduino to your prop. Follow this PIR sensor link for the code straight from

If you have any question's let me know, Thanks.

Halloween Decor Contest 2015

Participated in the
Halloween Decor Contest 2015