Packing Tape Ghost Tutorial

What ghostly apparition is here to haunt your home? None other than this life-sized ghost made of packing tape and plastic cling wrap. Because of the materials, it's transparent, yet strong enough to hold its shape. Hang it from a tree or the ceiling, and the ghost appears to float in front of you. Now that's getting into the Halloween "spirit."

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Things You'll Need

  • Foam head

  • Plastic cling wrap

  • Packing tape

  • Scissors

  • Dress form mannequin

  • Bed sheet

  • Pins

  • Fishing line

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong
Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 1: Make the Head

Wrap the foam head in plastic cling wrap. It is easier to wrap the head with two or three pieces of plastic wrap than one continuous piece. The plastic wrap sticks to itself, so the multiple layers help them stay secure on the foam head.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Cover the plastic-wrapped foam head with strips of clear packing tape. Because packing tape is so sticky, it's more manageable to work with shorter strips that are about 12 inches long. Keep going until the head is completely wrapped in packing tape. Push the tape in around the eyes and nose to capture the facial details.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Using scissors, cut a slit at the back of the head through the layers of packing tape and plastic wrap. Cut from the bottom of the head all the way to the top. The plastic cling wrap acts as a barrier that allows the tape to separate easily from the foam.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Slide the foam head out from the opening, and close up the opening with packing tape. Set the packing tape head aside for now.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong
Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 2: Make the Torso

Now that you have some experience creating a body shape with packing tape, let's move on to the torso. Here is where the dress form mannequin comes in. (I found my dress form at a discount clothing store.) As with the head, cover the torso of the dress form with plastic wrap. For now, just go to the hips.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Then wrap packing tape around the torso. Overlap the strips of packing tape to completely cover the plastic wrap. You don't want any of the plastic wrap exposed. Add extra layers of packing tape if you want the ghost form to be stiffer. For this project, I used about one and a quarter rolls of packing tape.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 3: Make the Skirt

Even though this ghost has passed to another realm, she still appreciates the flattering silhouette of an A-line skirt. To achieve that effect, pin a bed sheet around the hips of the dress form and fan out the bed sheet to the floor.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Cover the bed sheet with plastic wrap. In the area that extends past the actual dress form, the skirt is hollow, so there will not be a hard surface to push the plastic wrap against. Instead, just pat gently on the layers of plastic wrap to adhere them together.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Like you've done before, cover the plastic wrap with packing tape. When you get to the bottom of the dress, leave the plastic wrap uncovered, as the wispy pieces of plastic create a more ethereal hem.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 4: Remove the Dress Form

Using scissors, poke holes where you pinned the bed sheet to the dress form and remove the pins. Cover up the holes with packing tape.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Then pull down the bed sheet to reveal the transparent skirt.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Cut a slit up the skirt and all the way up to the neck of the torso, going through the layers of packing tape and cling wrap. Keep the scissor edges away from the dress form so you don't cut into it.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Slide the dress form out of the packing tape ghost, and seal up the cut with packing tape. The body section is done.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 5: Attach the Head

Now that the head and body are completed, slide the neck of the head into the neck of the torso, and attach the two sections together with packing tape.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 6: Hang the Ghost

To allow the ghost to hang so it appears to float in mid air, tie a piece of fishing line or thread around the neck. Make a knot, and then attach the fishing line to a tree branch if you're outside, or to a ceiling hook inside.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Step 7: The Finishing Details

Add some plastic cling wrap to the sides and back of the head to create hair for the ghost. Don't be too careful with the placement of the hair, as you want it to look a bit disheveled. You can tape the plastic wrap to the head, but it clings even without it.

Tip

The hair goes on after the fishing line so the hanging mechanism doesn't mess with the hair.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

Attach two long pieces of plastic cling wrap, around 24 inches each, to the shoulders so they cascade down as arm sleeves.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong

When displayed outside, the ghost comes to life, moving around as the breezes blow. Amplify the spookiness with some artificial fog or smoke, or shine an uplight towards the figure to illuminate it.

Image Credit: Jonathan Fong