I wanted a life size skeleton for our Halloween display and my budget was $0.00 Plastic shopping bags, wire coat hangers and tape was the answer.
About 20 or 30 white plastic shopping bags.
Two wire frame clothes hangers
Lots of clear tape. I used narrow tape but also used some wide packing tape.
Black permanent marker.
Step 1: Making Bones.
Spread out your shopping bag flat and roll it up into a long cylinder.
Here's a tip, if you have a problem with the company logo showing through the plastic like i did, try the method in picture number 4. Cut the bottom of the bag off. Re-flatten your bag with the writing on the lower side of the bag. This way when you roll it up, all the print is as far inside the cylinder as possible.
If you would like longer bones, use two bags overlapped for extra length, as shown in picture number 5.
You will need 4 arms bones and 4 leg bones, unless of course you are going for anatomically accurate.
Step 2: Shaping the Skeleton Bones
Use clear tape to keep the bags in a cylinder shape. Tape them about an inch or so from the end, and once in the middle.
Then use your fingers to spread apart the ends of the cylinders in order to make the ends of the bones.
Use a piece of tape to hold down the center of the end of the bone, and spread apart the plastic till you get the right shape. You can always add more tape till it stays the right shape.
Step 3: Making Skeleton Hands
This was a bit more complicated and finicky. I had plain white shopping bags on hand, which made this easier with no logo to hide.
Begin by spreading the bag flat and gathering or folding up a thumb, then continue around the bag folding up a section for each finger. Use tape to define the 5 fingers at the base of each finger.
Gather up the bag to make a wrist. Since I was making a life size skeleton I used my own hands to help me define the shape.
Tape up the fingers to give them a long narrow shape and then the rest of the bag becomes the wrist area.
Step 4: Making Skeleton Feet
Fold a bag in half length ways and stuff it so that a rectangle is made, approximately the size of the front half of your foot. Tape it to make it thin and narrow, getting wider at the toe area.
Gather the bag up behind the stuffed rectangle and fold it so that some is left behind the gathered area. This will become the heel bone. Fold it back on itself and the part going straight up (the bag handles) becomes the ankle bone.
Gather up a big toe if you like that look, but it's probably not necessary.
Use black permanent ink to draw the simplest suggestion of toe and foot bones.
Step 5: Constructing the Rib Cage and Hips
Get two wire coat hangers. One will be used upside down for the shoulders, one will be bent to more of a rectangle shape to reflect the shape of hip bones. Straighten the hook portion of the hangers and attach them facing opposite directions to form the spine. Since this is approximately life sized, use your own body as a guide for spacing.
Wrap the coat hangers in plastic bags as shown. Leave the hip bones with more plastic bag on them and add a vertical piece to the hips to extend the spine down to the bottom. Refer to the final picture for the final result.
Create small cylinders of plastic bags and tape them from the bottom of the rib cage to the underside of the top coat hanger. Then create more narrow cylinders and attach them to the spine and to the outside of the rib cage for the ribs.
Loop a piece of bag through the center of the top hanger and tie a loop to make a piece of spine long enough for the neck. Wrap this with more plastic bag to make it thicker.
Step 6: Making the Skull
Stuff a few shopping bags into a plain white shopping bag until you have an oval about the size of your head.
Take a piece of wide packing tape and tape the lower third of the oval to make it smaller than the top. This becomes your lower jaw.
Use permanent marker to draw the skull features onto the skull.
Step 7: Sew the Pieces Together and Hang It Up
Assemble the skeleton by sewing each bone to the next using dark thread. This will let him hang and move in the breeze.
Give your skeleton a name like Eboneezer and make him part of your family for years to come.
I'd love to see how your skeleton turned out.