Introduction: Skeleton Hangin' Tree

About: ...after 30 years of becoming corporately numb, my dreams of not working (for pay) and instead creating with my hands has become a reality. Life is grand!

Get started now on the best (and practically free!) Halloween display. This project recycles plastic water/milk jugs and can be added to each year

Step 1: Gather Materials:

Each skeleton will require:

7 plastic jugs
2 caps from mouth of jug
Red Marker (for highlights)
Exacto Knife
Awl or hole punch
5 yards of cord/jute/twine

Step 2: Create the Head

Set a jug upside down and imagine the spout as the skeleton's neck.

The nose/mouth can be cut from either side of the jug and to keep things simple, I have marked the flat sides for the facial features in red.

Trim away the excess, making sure your hands can fit into at least one of the openings.

Punch a hole at the top of the head to accept a loop of cord for hanging outside.

Punch a second hole in the lower back of the head - for later securing the head to the ribs (step 4).

Step 3: Carve the Rib Cage

Now imagine the spout as an extension of the neck.

With the handle of the jug becoming the skeleton's sternum, create 4+ pairs of ribs, making sure one opening is large enough to get your hands inside the jug (for ease of connecting to the head in step 4).

Trim away the marked sections.

Poke a shoulder hole on either side of the upright jug to later attach completed arms (step 6).

Poke another hole at the bottom of the jug for later attaching the hips (step 8).

Step 4: Connecting Head to the Ribs

Punch a hole in to a cap and thread a knotted length of cord (apx 8") through the neck of the rib jug. Thread another punched cap on top so that the threaded end will connect to the head jug.

Thread the excess cord through the hole in the back of the head (step 2) by slipping your hands into the mouth/eye socket. Knot securely and trim away excess.

Step 5: Create Bones for Arms (or Legs)

This step requires 4 jugs, or one for each appendege. From each jug you will trim out a hand (or foot) and 2 bones. Because arms and hands are not the same size as legs and feet, experiment with different lengths.

Using the jug handle as the top of each hand/foot, create the front of the hand/foot along with 5 fingers/toes in each. Creepy, gnarly, long nails are ideal!

Using leftover scraps from the other (solid) side of the jug, cut 2 bones for each hand/foot. By including the bottom curve of the jug, the bones will appear slightly dimensional.

Punch a hole in the top of each hand/foot and at each end of the bones.

Now is a good time to to outline bloody accents.

Step 6: Connect Dem Arm Bone to Da Shoulder Bone...

(This step suggests lot of knots, mostly to provide support and some definition between each bone. Use your discretion as to how many you want to add.)

Cut about a yard of cord, knotting one end. Attach knotted cord to the underside of the hand (handle). Knot the other side. Hand is now secured to the cord with 2 knots.

About 1/2" up, add another knot. Thread a bone onto the cord, then add a knot. Loosely form another knot before threading cord into the next bone hole. Once threaded, snug up the knot so that gravity doesn't let the top of the bone slip downward. Add a knot to the other side of the bone. Bottom of the arm is now attached to the hand.

Repeat process for upper arm bone, and after entering to the shoulder(step 3) secure the arm with a knot inside rib jug. Create/attach another arm for the other side. Trim excess cord.

Both arms now hang from either side of the shoulder/rib section.

Step 7: Cut Out Pelvis/Hips

Trim away the neck and handle of the jug so two solid sides of the jug remain along with a portion of the bottom of the jug.

Trim out an arch/"U" shape from each solid side.

Attempt to trim the bottom of the jug so it somewhat resembles the top of the jug.

When the solid plastic is laying on it's side, it will have 4 boxy corners with arched cuts inbetween.

Once satisifed with the shape of the curves, punch a hole on each of the boxy corners so that when the sides are connected, the center arch appears more defined.

If desired, outline the cut edges with a red marker.

Step 8: Connect Dee Leg Bonez to Da Thigh Bone...

Apply the steps to create the arms(step 6) toward creating legs, ending with a knot just before entering the hip/pelvis.

Thread each leg on either side of the hip/pelvis and knot securely. Trim excess cord.

Punch a hole in the center top of the hips/pelvis and attach to bottom of the rib jug with knotted cord.

Skeleton is now ready to display!

Step 9: Hang Up at Halloween and Listen for Wind

Find a tall tree for your new friend(s) and let the breeze take over. While one skeleton is interesting, several with a variety of expressions makes for an effective display!

Not only does an autumn breeze make the skeletons dance, it also creates a soft clacky sound while in motion.

Halloween Contest

Third Prize in the
Halloween Contest

Keep the Bottle Contest

Participated in the
Keep the Bottle Contest