Milk Jug Skulls

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About: My wife and I have a home haunt called Terror On 20Th....I love to build props...everything from a casket to pneumatic monsters! I am also a presenter, speaker and course teacher at Halloween conventions.

These skulls are made with the gallon size milk, water or ice tea jugs! The plastic jug is melted and shaped over a master skull.

Step 1: Tools Needed

To get started on this fun project there are some things needed.

A RESIN master skull...found on Ebay.

Good heavy gloves

Heat gun

masking tape

hot glue gun with glue sticks

sponge

scissors, razor knife

regular screw driver

bowl of ice water with a towel

plastic gallon size milk jugs!!

Step 2: Master Skull & Stand

1. I use a resin skull, this one has the removable jaw. I made the stand with some scrap wood and a section of PVC...I drilled a hole through the bottom of the skull but it can just be glued onto the pvc. This stand makes all of the difference!

2. I added some fiberglass matting to the back and top of the master skull to help "beef up" the rear of the skull as we will be cutting off the plastic when it's done.

Step 3: Prep the Jug

Cut the handle off of the jug.

Place the jug over the skull with the long part covering the face as shown.

Step 4: Start Making the Skull

Using the heat gun on HIGH, 1st heat up the decals and peel off. This should only take a few seconds

In a circular motion hold the heat gun about 3 inches above the top and keep moving the gun until the jug starts to turn clear.

With your gloves on, pull the soft jug down to take the shape of the skull.

Then heat up the plastic just under the cheek bone until clear and "tuck" in with your gloved hand...repeat on the other side...the jug is now "locked-in"

Step 5: Detail Work

Now we go back to the top...heat again until clear and now use a sponge dipped in ice water to push the plastic into place...do small sections.

Work your way to the forehead, then each side.

Heat up the area above the cheek bone until clear and push the sponge in, repeat on the other side.

Now do the same under the cheek bone on each side.

heat the mouth area over the teeth and press the cold sponge over the teeth to get the basic shape of the mouth.

Cut off the extra plastic under the mouth, be sure to leave about 1/2 inch extra to fold under the teeth and base.

heat the nose area, when clear push the sponge into it.

Heat the eye socket and push the cold sponge into the socket...don't push in to far or the plastic will tear. Repeat on the other eye.

heat the teeth section and using the cold sponge, fold extra plastic under teeth.

Now heat the teeth again but use a small screw driver to push in between the teeth and get some detail!

Step 6: Getting the Skull Off the Master

I use some heavy duty scissors and cut up the back of the skull, once at the top I cut a small V shape. Now the back of the skull will open....facing the skull pull the open back towards you...the skull should "pop" off.

Now use some tape and get the seams as close together as possible. Using the hot glue, glue from the inside. Cover the whole seam with a good bead of hot glue. Now peel off the tape once the glue has cooled.

Step 7: Time to Paint

First I use an ivory flat spray paint and spray a good coat inside the skull.

I use some flat black spray paint on all of the lower sections...eyes, nose, mouth and around cheek bone.

Using some paint thinner I soak a sponge and wipe off the excess paint...I use the sponge with a scrub side...be careful not to take to much off.

Last is a coat of flat interior latex paint...brown..I brush it on and using a water soaked rag I "blot" off the paint....once almost dry I take the sponge and clean off the teeth a bit!

Step 8: Finish

The skulls are super light...IF using them outside I suggest spraying a bit of expanding foam in them and toss in a handful of stones.

I like to attach the skulls in clusters...you can use the hot glue but I use zip ties and screws so they won't come apart! HAVE FUN!!

Creative Misuse Contest

Grand Prize in the
Creative Misuse Contest

3 People Made This Project!

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119 Discussions

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drmomentum

6 weeks ago on Introduction

Thanks for inspiring me this year. Many years ago my friends and I got heavily into props, makeup effects, and performing a haunted display in front of our houses on Halloween. I got away from it as I got older and got involved with other things, but the Halloween spirit has always been close to my heart. This year you helped me reclaim that enjoyment of Halloween as a craft project was a perfect distraction for me during some stressful times. And I never seem to have great ideas for costumes for myself (nor many places to go and be dressed up).

These skulls were a perfect little project. Thanks again.

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Thorondor95

4 months ago

Could I just use a real skull instead of a resin knock-off? ;)

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JAMESM466Thorondor95

Reply 2 months ago

Real skulls are somewhat larger that the cast resin duplicates. It's tough to get the jug pulled down over the lower jaw if you want to do a full skull.

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LocomiguelJasonF205

Reply 4 months ago

Yes you could. but keep in mind real skulls, legally obtained are expensive AND both the heat gun and the cutting the molded skull off of it would degrade it over what i suspect will be a relatively short time, ruining it for what ever purpose it was originally obtained for. I suspect, though am not sure, the Plastic would eventually cause damage to the structure of the bone. There is then the loss of bone removing the casting--little chips, teeth, etc

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WUVIE

2 months ago

Wow! This is amazing, and a fabulous recycling process. Bravo, and congratulations on your Grand Prize win! If I had been active on Instructables (as I should have) I would definitely have voted for you. Passing this on, too good not to share.

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Lucienxx

2 months ago

This is one of the best ideas and best instructables...ever.
I'm still in the process of making more but I've made 3 so far. I'm not happy with the shade of brown I was able to get & the end result coloring is tough to get right...still working on experimenting with color.

The explanation and instructions for the instructables are spot on. Great work

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ChuckM68Lucienxx

Reply 2 months ago

Try army green as an undercoat to the brown. See my post of 42 skulls. About half were done with the greenish undercoat.

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JasonF205Lucienxx

Reply 2 months ago

Thank you very much! So glad to see you were able to make them! The more you make the better they get...yours looks great!

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StephenR171

2 months ago

Can anyone give me a link to a good RESIN skull? I've ordered three different skulls from three different ebay sellers, and I keep getting plastic/vinyl hunks of junk that literally crumble to pieces after a skull or two. I could have just bought the real thing at this point.

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Yonatan24StephenR171

Reply 2 months ago

Did you contact the seller to receive your money back/ discount/ sending it back?

Here's another idea: search for one to 3d print on Thingiverse and use a 3d pritnting service to print it and mail it straight to your house.

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kojis92Yonatan24

Reply 2 months ago

Did you have success with a 3D printed master? I'd be worried (def for PLA), that the low melting point, and infill density could be problematic?

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ILykMakinkojis92

Reply 2 months ago

"Did you contact the seller to receive your money back/ discount/ sending it back?"

You couldn't. I doubt the seller sold them with the intent of having a heat gun turned on them

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Yonatan24kojis92

Reply 2 months ago

No experience, only a bit of knowledge.

If it isn't black PLA, and not in the sun, why would the low melting temp be an issue? It's not like wax, it's still hard plastic...

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kojis92Yonatan24

Reply 2 months ago

Not really, the melting temp of PLA is reasonably less than HDPE, which was my concern, although the HDPE is shielding the PLA in this case. I have some scrap PLA pieces tho, so I'll test it. I can say I was able to make a reasonable skull copy from polystyrene.. I just can't seem to find any cheap skulls for a better cast.. despite the timing being just about perfect :(...

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ChuckM68StephenR171

Reply 2 months ago

I bought two decent skulls from Michael's. They were $14 less a 20% discount coupon. I later found the exact same skulls at an Olde Time Pottery store for $5 here in Jacksonville, FL. The drawback is that the jaws are permanently attached, but they still made for good skulls. See my earlier post and photo.