Giving Fancy Makeovers for Plastic Skeletons

DIY Featured Holidays
Some paint, and flowers or other odds and ends can turn plain plastic skeletons into unique works of art. All images: Lisa Tate

Every haunting season, I love decorating with skeletons, skulls, and various bony bits from little miniature human forms, to all forms or animal life to mythical creatures.

Plastic skeletons are really fun, but they can be so much cooler with a little effort.

Seasonal decorations are bursting with creative plastic skeletons and bones, but sometimes those clean white bones can look just a little, well plastic.

Recently, I’ve seen some various tips and art hacks on making these bony friends seem a little more authentic and aged, or ornate and artistic. I decided to give it a try:

Dirty and Darken

I used small short sprays of black, olive green, and brown spray paint to turn the plain bone color into something a little more dingy and creepy. The difference is already significant and darker colors tend to do a better job hiding seams from plastic molds.

If I wanted it a little more aged looking, I hit a few areas with some spray adhesive and poured some fine dirt or sand on it. This almost makes like it was found on a dig.

Spraying a few coats of black, brown, and green paint, and adding some “natural” elements like dust, or moss, will give the skeleton a more realistic feel.

Add Some “Natural” Embellishment

Another way to give these bones a cool look is to add a little environment, to make it look like it was found at some ancient dig or far off land.

Finding old pieces of plain rags, rope, or some artificial Spanish moss found in floral sections of craft stores. Glue it around the neck area, joints or from the rib cages where wrappings would likely cling.

For my mermaid, I give it a little burlap “net” to look like it might have been dredged up on a pirate ship.

Often when we see very clean, white bones in those roadside curio shop, such as cow skulls, they’ve been bleached clean or painted. For Halloween and spooky, season, I like them a little more dingy. 

However, I’m not against a little more colorful decoration, just for fun. For a final step, here’s where we bring a little in some personality.

Flowers and leaves will add color and personality to plain skeletons.


We’ve all seen the plastic “Fun House” style skeletons people dress up in tuxedos and evening gowns or pirate outfits and old baggy clothes. I’m not criticizing this look…we have a small one in a pinstriped zoot suit…but try taking them in another fancy direction.

Instead, add some green leaves or colorful silk flowers. I used some bright seaweed and buds for my mermaid and more gothy roses for the “angel.” For some little skulls, I included a few pieces of hardware to look like a sort of Mad Max accessory.

Depending on what you use, plain skulls can become cyberpunk and industrial with metal screws and gears, or gothic and graceful with roses and rhinestones.

That will finish them up, and they will certainly be eye- catching wherever you display them.

If you want some clever ideas that take these skeletons above and beyond, here’s a DIY from a talented artist, “plague doctor,” and steampunk maker, Necrofessor:


This Halloween, as many public events are streamlined or cancelled, making the home and neighborhood as festive and fun is possible is more than just decoration, its reminding people they can “stay safe” but still “stay spooky.”

Call me macabre, but hey, it’s October! Why not take it to the next level this year?

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