Glow-in-the-dark Ghoulish Ghosties

Introduction: Glow-in-the-dark Ghoulish Ghosties

About: I'm an engineer and a dad who has a love for designing and making toys, STEM projects and anything electronicy.
With Halloween around the corner, it's time to get your decorations up.  Now, you can buy glow in the dark stars, but why not brighten up your windows/clothes/keyrings with some Glow in the dark Ghoulish Ghosties?!!

Read on to find out...
  • How to make your own cookie cutter moulds easily and cheaply
  • How to use plastic beads to create your own plastic shapes
I'm also entering this instructable into the 'Halloween decoration' competition, so if you feel it's worthy of a vote and see the 'Vote' button up at the top on the right, I'd really appreciate it!

Thanks for reading and here we go.

Step 1: Collect Your Materials

For this project, you will need to gather:
  • An aluminium drinks can or thin sheet metal
  • A craft knife or pair of sharp scissors
  • A (ideally metal) ruler
  • Glow-in-the-dark plastic beads - I bought a pack of 100 off ebay for £1
  • A portable toaster oven, or kitchen oven with lot of ventilation
  • Snub-nose or needle-nose pliers
  • Optional: A piece of wood or self-healing craft mat for scoring the sheet metal - protecting your kitchen table is always good!

Step 2: Cutting Your Metal Strips

Bracing the can with one hand, use the craft knife to puncture the aluminium drinks can carefully. Using a sawing motion with the knife, cut a line slowly around the outside of the can.

Don't worry too much about keeping a straight line as this rough edge will be cut off later.

Be careful not to touch the edges as freshly cut aluminium can be very sharp!

Once you've cut all the way around the can, carefully snip the last few millimetres as these can be tricky.  Now's a great time to use a pair of scissors to cut that last half centimetre.

Using a pair of scissors, cut a line from the cut off end down to the uncut end of the can.

Now turn the scissors 90 degrees (so they're facing across the width of the can) and cut a line around the edge.

Once you get all the way around, snip that last half cm carefully and you should now have 2 end caps and a nice wide rectangle of aluminium we can use for all sorts!

You've probably noticed your sheet of aluminium is pretty curly!  To solve this, take a solid flat object like a ruler ruler, place the aluminium sheet curved side up and gently push the ruler into the curved of the metal to straighten it.

Step 3: Measuring and Cutting Your Metal Strips

Use your ruler and a Sharpie to mark every inch or so across the narrow width of the metal sheet.  Do this 2 or 3 times down the length of the sheet.

Next, join up your marks to give you 3 long strips rectangles which should be 1 inch thick.  Worth noting here that you can measure and cut them thinner if you want to get more out of each can.  I chose an inch wide strips to make crimping with pliers easier down the line.

After that, line up your ruler on the lines and score along them using your x-acto/craft/stanley knife.  I found you need to score about 5-6 times for each line to cut through to the wood underneath.  Again, watch those edges when you're done!

Repeat for all 4 lines and you should end up with 3 equal thickness aluminium strips.

Put on a pair of thick garden gloves and roll the thin, jagged offcuts into a small ball, wrap them in foil and you can recycle them.

Step 4: Joining Strips Together

Pinch about 1/2cm to 1cm from either end of 2 pieces, making sure the edges overlap.

Use a pair of pliers to crimp (squeeze together) the 2 metal strips.  At this stage (as I discovered later), it's a good idea to use pliers to fold this join over on itself to make it stronger.

Give the join a wiggle, and if it moves around a lot, add a staple over the join to hold the pieces together more securely.

Step 5: Sketch Your Ghoulish Ghostie!

Grab your favourite 3B pencil (I prefer darker lines when sketching) and draw your Ghoulish Ghostie.  Add some eyes and a spoooky mouth because we'll cover creating voids in mould making in the step 7!

Step 6: Bending Your Mould

Taking your long strip of aluminium, choose your starting point (I opted for the tip of the ghostie's tail) and start gently bending, curling and crimping the strip to match the lines and contours of your ghostie.

Leave about 1-2cm of metal unbent at the end to allow you to join the other end once your bend your way around the ghostie's body.

Try to keep the shape of your sketch, but don't worry if it goes out of line a bit.  Just crimp or bend it back in/out gently using fingers, pen or pliers, watching your fingers all the while.

Once you bend your way around its body, hold the tail ends together with that extra bit you left poking out.

Use your pliers to crimp these ends twice over on themselves to hold them strongly in place.

Place your mould onto something flat and check to see if it sits nice and flatly.  If it it raised up, then your beads will flow underneath later on!

Gently bend the sides up/down as you need to until your mould sits as flat as you can make it.

Step 7: Adding Your Ghostie's Features

To create those voids where the eyes and mouth will be, you'll need to create 3 mini cookie cutter pieces - 2 eyes and a mouth.

To make the eyes, take that other aluminium strip we had left over and cut about an inch off it.

Using your finger, very carefully, bend it in on itself until you can curl in tightly into a long cylinder.  Rolling it around a round pencil or pen can help achieve this shape quickly.

Repeat this once more and you'll have your two eyes!

For the mouth, cut around a 2 inch piece and repeat the bending and rolling around the pen/pencil until it's about 1cm wide.  To add that spooooky shape to the mouth, use your pliers to crimp it to the shape you'd like.  I opted for a long 'O' shape.

Place your eyes and mouth in the ghostie's body and see if you're happy with them!  If not, you can adjust their shapes using the pliers.

Step 8: Add Beads to Your Mould

Now it's time to add those all important glow-in-the-dark plastic beads to your Ghoulish Ghosty mould!

Sift through the glow-in-the-dark beads you have and choose the colours your want.

I suggest choosing colours which are similar - e.g. yellow and white, orange and red as when they glow, you'll see only a slight different in colour when dark.  I chose green and orange which were the lightest colours I had enough of and they turned out pretty well.

Place the mould on a metal tray that fits your oven and then add your eyes and mouth pieces.  If they don't stand up on their own, you'll need to hold them in place with a couple of fingers while you add your beads to the mould.

Next, tip in your chosen colour of bead into the space between the eyes and mouth, being careful not to drop any in the mouth!  They're a nightmare to get out!  Don't worry when you see gaps, we'll address those next.

Now, using a hammer, carefully break some similar coloured beads into small pieces and sprinkle these into the gaps too small for your whole beads to fit in.

Sprinkle the broken pieces of bead into the small cracks and crevices your whole beads wouldn't fit, such as the tail and around the eyes.

Step 9: Bake Your Ghoulish Ghostie!

The most important step while melting plastic beads is ventilation.  Melting plastic creates toxic fumes, so make sure your oven is either outside or (if inside) the windows and external doors are open to create a through-draft.  Having the extractor fan on doesn't hurt either!

Firstly, turn your oven to 220 degrees celclius/Gas mark 7/425 Farenheit and set a timer for 20 minutes.

Next, carefully place your mould on its tray in the oven, being careful not to jog the mould - you don't want your carefully constructed mould tilting and beads sliding out!

Finally, close the door and wait 20 minutes for the ping!

Step 10: Remove Your Freshly Baked Ghoulish Ghostie

When the timer goes off, stand to the side of the over door and open it to allow any fumes inside to dissipate.

Next, use an oven glove to take the tray out and place it on a safe surface to cool for about 5 minutes.

You should now be able to safely pick up your Ghoulish Ghostie by the mould edges and take a look!

If your eyes and mouth were flat to the tray, your should also have voids for the eyes and mouth, which will look spook-tacular later on at night!

Step 11: Removing Your Mould and Neatening Up

If your mould was flush to the metal tray, you will be able to remove it by lightly tapping the plastic Ghostie all the way around with either a small nosed hammer or by tapping the end of a screwdriver on the plastic itself.

If you experienced a bit of overflow, then the plastic will have attached itself pretty firmly to the metal mould and you may pull the mould quite strongly and re-bend it later for use again.

To remove the mould, unfold on of the crimped folds you made earlier to free 2 ends of the metal sheet.

Then, use the pliers to firmly grip the metal and pull away with a slight twisting motion, working your way around the shape.

Once the metal mould is removed, use a hammer to gently knock the eyes and mouth pieces through, or a pair of pliers to grip and wiggle the 2 pieces out of the finished Ghostie.

Step 12: Charge Up Your Ghoulish Ghostie!

Glow in the dark materials tend to be a material mixed with a phosphor.

'All glow-in-the-dark products contain phosphors. A phosphor is a substance that radiates visible light after being energized.'

To energize glow-in-the-dark materials (like our beads), you'll need to 'charge them up' using a light source.  Any light source will do, as in the photo below I used an energy saving light bulb and the Ghostie glowed nicely.

Give it about 30 minutes under your light source and then it's time to light up the spooookiness!

Step 13: Decoration Time

Congratulations!  You've just completed your first Glow-in-the-dark Ghoulish Ghostie and you're ready to spook things up a bit!

As you can see in the photograph, the ghostie glows brilliantly at night and the voids on the eyes and mouth really spook it up some more.

Ideas for decoration:
  • Add some tiny magnets and spook up the fridge at night
  • Stick them to your ceiling or walls as a spooky bedtime treat
  • Drill a hole in the forehead of your Ghostie and add them to a keychain
Thanks for reading through the instructable.  Hopefully you now feel more confident with making your own cookie cutter moulds and using melted beads to craft custom shapes.

I'm also entering this instructable into the 'Halloween decoration' competition, so if you feel it's worthy of a vote and see the 'Vote' button up at the top on the right, I'd really appreciate it!
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    Cairdy Crafts
    Cairdy Crafts

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    You might find it easier to puncture the can with a knife and then use a pair to scissors to do all the cutting. Let me know how you get on :)