How to Make a Cheesecloth Ghost

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Lightweight, porous cheesecloth and gauze are ideal materials for handcrafted ghosts.
Image Credit: malven57/iStock/Getty Images

Cheesecloth just may be the ideal material for crafting ghosts for Halloween decor; its gauzy, thin composition shreds easily to make it look ages older than it really is. Cheesecloth is light enough, even when treated with a fabric stiffener, to create both miniature and life-sized ghosts shaped any way you like. Add fishing line to the head to hang the ghost from a tree or a plant hook for an extra spooky touch.


Getting Started: Supplies

While it may sound obvious, decide in advance how big you'd like to make your ghosts before purchasing the cheesecloth. Tiny ghosts may not require much, but a life-size ghost requires quite a bit of cheesecloth so you can create a layered, flowing fabric effect. Gauze will do for small projects if you can't find cheesecloth. Besides cheesecloth, you'll need a fabric-stiffening agent such as spray starch, water and glue or decoupage medium. Disposable cups or empty plastic bottles create stands or forms for the ghosts, while balloons provide shapes for the heads. If your ghosts have arms, you'll also need flexible craft wire. Newspaper or a plastic tablecloth protects the work area.


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Forming the Frame

Before you can build your ghost, it needs a stand or form as a structure to support the cheesecloth as you work. For a small ghost, place an empty water bottle on the table; then place a small foam ball or balloon atop the bottle opening. The height of the bottle and shape of the ball dictate the final height and head size of your ghost. For a life-sized ghost, set a large round balloon atop a coat rack. If your ghost wants raised arms, wrap the center of a piece of craft wire around the neck of the bottle or top of the coat rack; then bend the wire to create makeshift arms. Curve the wire slightly at the top for hands. The arm and hand shape doesn't have to be accurate, as the wire is there merely to hold the cheesecloth up while you work.


Stiffen Up

Set the ghost form atop the work area after protecting the space with a plastic tablecloth or newspaper. Drape one piece of cheesecloth over the ghost form, trimming the cloth so it creates the desired ghostly look with a little extra cloth left over on the bottom. If your ghost will stand, allow enough extra cheesecloth to create a pool of fabric on the work surface. Spray the starch liberally over the fabric, manipulating the material as you work. If using a liquid starch, fabric stiffener or a 50/50 mixture of glue and water, dip the cheesecloth into the liquid; squeeze out the excess liquid while wearing rubber gloves; then drape and shape the cheesecloth over the form. Let the cheesecloth dry in place for a very thin, delicate translucent ghost, or add another layer to make it more durable. If creating a hanging ghost, do not coat the bottom half or so of the cheesecloth with a stiffening solution; instead, allow the cloth to flow freely so it catches breezes and moves with even a slight wind. Fray the ends, if you wish, for a more raggedy, old look.


Final Touches

Once the ghost is completely dry and stiff, it's time for embellishments. Add stick-on glowing eyes for extra after-dark spookiness. Tie a piece of fishing line through the top of the head to hang the ghost from a chandelier, a plant hook or a tree. Light up the inside of a ghost that has many layers of cheesecloth by placing a color-changing LED light beneath it for a tabletop display for a party.


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