To celebrate all things Halloween, I’m sharing my foolproof guide on how to make cheesecloth ghosts. It’s a time-honored tradition that every mom and child should enjoy. Plus, there’s a hot tip at the end to make your ghosts glow in the dark!
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Cheesecloth Ghosts: Simple Tutorial
If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, chances are you made cheesecloth ghosts. It’s a Halloween craft I distinctly remember making with my mom as a child. I now feel compelled to pass down the tradition to my twin boys.
You have several options for glue when it comes to keeping your ghosts frozen in time. I’m using Mod Podge for this tutorial because I have copious amounts of the stuff from my various decoupage projects.
Other options for stiffening your cheesecloth include Elmer’s Glue, liquid starch, or a mixture of water and cornstarch.
Step 1: Prepare ghost structure
For this tutorial, we’ll use a styrofoam base, but you can also use a slender glass bottle and tape your ball or wooden bead to the top.
It’s a good idea to wrap your styrofoam base with foil or a plastic trash bag before you begin adding your ghost structures.
Once the base is prepared, insert wooden skewers into the styrofoam. You can then place a styrofoam ball or wooden bead on top to form the head structure.
If your bead has holes on both ends, you can use masking tape or painter’s tape to seal one side (see above). I had these beads on hand from my recent DIY bead garland tutorial.
To make the shape of arms, you can simply add more wooden skewers at shorter heights (see the right ghost shape above).
Be sure to cover the “bodies” with plastic wrap so you can reuse the structures to make more batches of cheesecloth ghosts!
Step 2: Prepare the glue mixture
Create a thin glue solution by mixing two parts Mod Podge with one part water. You can add more Mod Podge to the solution if the mixture is too runny. A stir stick or popsicle stick may come in handy to mix the glue.
Another option is mixing Elmer’s Glue and water in the same ratio. Some people also like using liquid starch or even cornstarch diluted with water.
Whichever substance you choose, you’ll want a thin enough consistency where you can wring out the glue but a thick enough blend to have stiffness when it dries.
If your ghost still seems limp as it starts drying, you can add a Mod Podge fixative spray or hair spray to help maintain its structure.
Step 3: Immerse the cheesecloth in glue, drape it, and let it dry
Measure and cut a rectangle of cheesecloth to the length you desire for your ghost structure. Then dredge the fabric in the glue solution until it has fully absorbed the glue. Wring it out completely.
Once you have untangled the cheesecloth and spread it out, drape it gently over the ghost structures. To make sure the ghost will stand upright, gather bunches of cheesecloth where the fabric hits the bottom base.
You may also choose to cut the cheesecloth short enough so that the fabric doesn’t drape. This is perfect if you plan to hang your ghosts and want them to look like they’re floating.
Depending on humidity and the amount of glue in the cheesecloth, the ghosts may take 1-2 days to dry completely.
Step 4: Add eyes to the ghosts with felt, paint, or vinyl
If you’d like your cheesecloth ghosts to express themselves, try adding small felt eyes and a mouth. You can use Tacky Glue or Felt and Foam Glue for this job. Another great alternative is self-adhesive felt sheets.
Cricut owners can also cut small ghost faces out of vinyl in a jiffy, which is what did for my smaller ghosts.
Bonus Tip for Glow-in-the-dark Cheesecloth Ghosts!
Since these cheesecloth ghosts have been around for a while, I thought I’d give them a spooky upgrade for Halloween. When you add this paint to your glue mixture, you’ll get instant glow-in-the-dark cheesecloth ghosts!
You only need to add a few squirts of this special paint to your glue mixture to get this effect. How cool is that?!