I decided that I needed another skeleton to add to our growing amount of Halloween decorations. Never content with simply buying and hanging one, I wanted this skeleton to bleed from its skull. To produce the most gruesome bleeding I could think of (without spraying blood over people from its chest cavity as they walk by...) I used a small pump. Read on to see how simple this project really is!
Step 1: Tools and Materials
A minimal amount of tools and material are required for this project. The corpsing of the skeleton is optional, not doing this minimises what you need but the effect you get from corpsing makes the finished product a lot cooler. The major benefit to the corpsing is that you can use a very cheap skeleton and you will get a more gruesome result.
- Water pump - I used a 3-6V mini submersible pump
- Tube to fit the pump
- Power supply for pump - 4 x AA batteries in my case to provide max head to the pump
- Red food colouring/dye
- Painters drop cover (optional - for corpsing)
- Wood stain (optional - for corpsing)
- Hot glue gun
- Heat gun (optional - for corpsing)
- Rags (optional - for corpsing)
Step 2: Plumb the Skeleton!
As the skull of most skeletons are hollow, to make them bleed you just need to pump fluid into it and make small holes for it to run out.
- Remove the skull if you can. This is not necessary but does make things easier. Make a couple of small holes in the nostrils and eye sockets. You don't want to many holes until you have tested the pumps capacity.
- Drill a hole just large enough for the tube to fit through at the back of the skull. Feed the tube into and glue in place. Attach the pump to the other end of the tube, submerge in water and hold the skull over a bowl. Attach the power supply and observe how the water comes out. I needed to make a couple more holes to get the effect that I was after.
- Make sure you hold the skull at the height above the pump that it will be when you complete the project. The fluid that is pumped out reduces as the height is increased. In the picture I show the skull right above the bowl but in reality I needed to hold it about one meter above it for a true test. If the pump is not providing sufficient fluid you will need to either get a bigger pump or increase the voltage (if the pump is capable of multiple voltages).
- Reattached the skull to the skeleton once you are happy with the holes that you have drilled.
- Hide the tube where it will be the least visible when hung. I glue/cable tied mine to the spine.
Step 3: Corpse the Skeleton!
Before corpsing the skeleton make sure all the limbs hang correctly. If any are bent, they can be heated gently with the heat gun and bent back into shape. Also check the hands and feet. These are often flat on cheap skeletons and look a lot better if they are heated and bent into a more natural shape.
There are a number of instructables on corpsing skeletons, such as https://www.instructables.com/id/Corpsing-101/ Check these out for details but as a quick rundown:
- Wrap a couple of layers of the painters drop cloth around each limb, the skull and the torso. You will have to cut it to suitable lengths.
- Use a heat gun to shrink the drop cloth. Apply more heat to form a couple of holes here and there.
- Rub a bit of stain onto the skeleton with a rag. Wipe off the excess.
Make sure you do this process in a well ventilated area.
Step 4: Hang the Skeleton!
Take your completed skeleton and hang it in the desired location. You need to be careful where you put it as idealy you want to hide the container that is holding the liquid (or make it completely obvious and part of the prop). You also want to avoid staining of concrete or the house if you do use food colouring/dye in the water. I hung my skeleton between two trees with the bucket concealed behind the hedge. The tube for the liquid should also be hiden (not hidden in the photo so you can see it leading down to where the pump will be).
Place a bowl below the skeleton and fill it with water, either plain or add food colouring/dye to suit the effect you are after.
Drop the pump into the bowl, conceal the pipe as best you can and attach the power supply.
To add to the effect you may need to add a bit of lighting. I simply stuck a LED torch into the hedge and aimed it up into the skeletons face.
Sit back and enjoy!