Spooky Polyester Resin Ghost Prop




About: See some of my work here and as always accepting orders for custom design and fabrication as featured on Discovery Channel, Wired Magazine, Gizmodo, Engadget, Geekologie, PCWorld, CNet and many more - Pinter...

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This is a simple way to make a quite spooky looking hanging ghost.  It can be draped over a tree or bush, or even hung in a doorway.  It is back lit with clear Christmas lights, black lights.  We have also used a floodlight pointed up to illuminate one we put on a bush.  The basic construction starts with a positive mold on which your material is draped over the mold and coated with either polyester resin, plaster of paris or even papermache.  The later 2 do not work as well as they are much more fragile and susceptible to moisture.  I recommend going with polyester resin, and this is what will be covered in this instructable.  The photos do not really do these ghosts justice as the lighting was effecting the digital camera.  For some reason in the pictures the ghost faces are not as lit up as in real life.

Disclosure time:  Polyester resin is nasty noxious stuff, it is bad for you and some people are allergic to it, as is the silicone caulking.  Do all stinky steps in a well ventilated place, preferably outside.  Don't be stupid, I am not responsible.

Step 1: Materials

  • White sheet, table cloth or suitable piece of white material
  • Mannequin head or Smooth plastic mask (life like)
  • Polyester resin, plaster or paper mache
  • Duct tape and/or clear packing tape
  • Corn starch
  • Clear Silicone caulking 100% pure (NOT type 2, 3 or paintable)
  • Disposable mixing bowl capable of holding 2 liters
  • Mixing sticks
  • Disposable brushes
  • Rubber gloves
  • Piece of plywood or board at least 3 inches wider on all sides then your mask
  • Optional tripod and matching nut to screw onto the tripod
  • Aluminum foil
  • Fast setting epoxy glue

Step 2: Building the Mould

You can skip the next 2 steps if you have a mannequin head, I know I would!
  • First off, trace out your mask onto the your board or plywood.  Cut this out with a jigsaw, try to keep the portion you have cut out in one piece for later.  At this time you can cut an inch or two around this cut out chunk reducing it in size by an inch or two.
  • Fit your mask into the hole in the board and staple gun it in place.
  • If you used a mask like mine it will be missing the for head, cut out a piece of cardboard about 10" by 5".  Cut strips into to it as seen in the picture leaving about a 1 inch strip to keep it all together.  fit it into the gap for the forehead and trim to fit.
  • pull one strip over at a time putting each piece in place with some duct tape.
  • Once all the strips have formed the forehead cover the inside of the mask with duct tape.  Try to have the tape as smooth as possible with next to no wrinkles in the tape. 
  • run a strip of duct tape around the inside perimeter of the mask cover all the staples.  It is a good idea to lay down duct tape over the wood as well, when you add you silicone later it will not stick to the tape.
  • Fill any open holes on the mask like the mouth, nostrils and eyes with clear packing tape on both sides
  • Anywhere you think the silicone could stick run some duct tape.  Dust tape is naturally resistant to silicone so is a great mold release.

Step 3: Mix Up Your OOGOO

Time to mix up a batch of quick curing silicone called Oogoo from Mikey77.  This comes from a fantastic instructable featured on this site.  You could fill your mold with plaster of paris, but the oogoo is cheaper, faster curing and slightly flexible.
  • I used a 1:1 ratio of cornstarch to silicone.  Mix it in your disposable bowl out side as the acetic acid released is quite nasty smelling and is an irritant for mucosal tissues.  I used about 2 1/2 tube of silicone and a box and a half of cornstarch.
  • Spread the resulting mixture in all the deep cavities like the nose, around the mouth and eyes and anywhere detail is required.  The fill in the rest of the mold.  Go quickly as this sets up quite firm in less then 5 minutes.
  • Once the mold is mostly filled, press in your reserved cut of wood and try to ooze up some of the oogoo over the edges of the wood locking it in.
  • I waited about 30 minutes for it to firm up before slowly popping it out of the mold.  Go slow and have a little patience if you wish to reuse your mask.
  • Flip it over to reveal the wood on the bottom, and drill a small hole in the wood just deep enough to insert your nut that fits your tripod.  Epoxy it in place, once dry it can be screwed onto your tripod.   The purpose of the tripod is for ease of use later.
Here is a link to the oogoo instructable, check his stuff out! Its awesome!!! Copy and paste the URL below.


Step 4: Its RESIN Time!

  • With your silicone face or mannequin head mounted on the tripod, Lay your sheet over the mask, centering it in the middle of the sheet.
  • Mix up a batch of polyester resin with your catalyst.  About 1 cup is sufficient, you can always add more later.
  • Using a disposable brush start painting on the resin until the material is saturated.
  • Brush a very light coat of vegetable oil onto a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the mask by several inches.  Only 2-3 drops is required.
  • Place a aluminum foil oil side down over the mask and press down all over.  Press into all the depressions, forming the face.  As the resin dries the foil will keep the sheet locked in place keeping all the faces features sharp.
  • After an hour or two, the foil can be removed.  The oil will facilitate in the removal process, bits that tear off and stick can be picked out after.
  • At this point it will be the resin will be amber toned and slighlty translucent.  While still on the tripod a gave it a coat of matte white spray paint, one coat is enough.  Let it dry an hour or two and your good to go.  Gently pull the it off of your mold and make a bunch more ghosts.  The mold has made over 30 so far with no signs of degradation, awesome!

Step 5: Hang It Up

Throw your ghosts over trees, bushes or hang in door ways.  If you do hang in a doorway you may want to make one where you insert multiple faces on the same sheet!  Light it up using Christmas lights, fluorescent tube, flood lights or for the coolest effect black lights.  Have fun!



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    11 Discussions


    Reply 2 years ago

    MEKP is the catalyst. Comes with the polyester resin when you buy it. Very caustic/toxic catalyst so be careful and read the MSDS on it, will show precautions

    Another thought actually would be to get some thick rubber gloves, (simple dish gloves may not be strong enough), but I digress. First insert some stiff wire into each finger kinda like re-bar in concrete. Then fill the gloves with polyester resin and allow to harden over a couple hours. Keep in mind larger volumes of resin curing heat up more, hence the thicker rubber gloves. Dish gloves could literally melt. I cast a gear shift like this and it turned out awesome. I embedded some LED's in it first, and aggressively mixed it add tons of bubbles. when I freed it from the mold the LED's when powered lit up the bubbles within the resin. With thicker pours like this you will often get fractures due to the heat, but it still usually holds together.

    Yikes be careful! In theory you could if your hand was in a rubber glove, but you would be holding it for a while. Maybe get some dish gloves stuff them with material and some bent wire to hold the shape. Getting polyester resin on your skin is pure evil!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    great effect ! you can do a more temporary and not waterproof type by using clothes starch

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Oh for sure. The first time we did this was with papermache, and it worked quite well. Took a while to dry mind you...


    8 years ago on Step 5

    Would you be able to back light this with a chemical light (glow stick) placed in the mask cavity? I think the creepy green of the glow stick would be nifty.

    yes, super easy. If you all ready have a human like face it greatly simplifies things. Just put some sort of release agent before the resin and your good to go!