How to Age a Skeleton for Halloween

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Many decorative plastic skeletons for Halloween are white and look more like plastic than bones. For a fresh-from-the-grave look that is more likely to scare your friends, add stain and several colors of paint to your Halloween prop. Artificial aging techniques are routinely employed by the entertainment industry. You can use the same DIY tips and tricks in this tutorial to age or weather that plain white skeleton and make it the hit of your haunted house or Halloween party.

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Things You'll Need

  • Plastic skeleton

  • Soap

  • Hot water

  • Washcloth (optional)

  • Paper towel

  • Plastic drop cloth or newspaper

  • Latex gloves

  • Acrylic paint in eggshell, nutmeg, golden harvest and black

  • Wax paper

  • Black spray paint

  • Brown stain

  • Wide paintbrush

  • Waterproof outdoor lacquer (optional)

Create The Spooky Skeleton

1. Wash and dry the skeleton

Wash the skeleton with soap and hot water to get rid of any residue or protective coating that could prevent paint from sticking. You may want to use a washcloth to scrub the bones if you find the coating tough to remove. Dry the bones with a paper towel, making sure they are dry before applying paint.

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2. Prepare your work area

Protect your work surface. This can be a messy project, so be sure to clear off a table or large floor area and cover it with a plastic drop cloth or newspaper.

3. Apply paint to the bones

Wear latex gloves and squirt a small amount of eggshell paint into your hand. Use your hands to smear the paint all over the bones. Try to get a fairly even coat on the entire bone. Repeat the coating process using the golden harvest paint. If the bones are not dark enough for your liking, use a small amount of the nutmeg paint to help darken the bones using the technique you used to apply the first two colors. Place the bones on wax paper to dry for several hours or overnight.

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Tip

Paint your skeleton about a week before you want to use it to ensure enough drying time.

Wear old clothing while working with the paint and stain.

4. Apply black spray paint

Assemble the skeleton if it is in pieces and hang it outside from a hook or a branch. Spray the inside cavity of the skeleton with black spray paint. This will make the skeleton look old and as if the inside is rotten. Leave the skeleton outside to dry for about an hour.

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Warning

Use spray paint in a well-ventilated location.

Don't allow children to perform this project without adult supervision, as it can get messy.

5. Darken areas with brown stain

Paint brown stain on the skeleton, focusing on the portions you want to make very dark. The stain does not have to be even since real skeleton bones are not all the same color. Use a wide paintbrush to apply the stain. This will help you control the amount of stain and avoid making a big mess. Allow the stain to dry before moving the skeleton.

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6. Seal the paint for outdoor decor

Coat the skeleton decoration in a waterproof outdoor lacquer if you plan to use it outdoors. If you are going to use the skeleton as an indoor decoration, you can skip this step.

Make sure the skeleton is completely covered in lacquer, including all crevices and holes. Rain or water may cause the paint to run, so it is important that all painted areas are covered with the waterproof lacquer.

Allow the lacquer to dry overnight before touching or moving the skeleton.

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