Monday, October 10, 2011

DIY: A Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Decoration Tutorial


The finished piece... Much more glittery in person.

Yesterday at Target, I found this amazing glittery skull in their dollar section. I snatched up the green one and decided instantly that I wanted to turn it into a sugar skull. If you have found this tutorial late (AKA Target doesn't have them anymore), you can find similar objects at craft stores in their halloween sections. If you have a styrofoam skull laying around, you can paint elmer's glue on your skull (in sections, maybe 4 or 5 sections) and then roll it in glitter or throw glitter on it. If you're doing this project during a time of the year when skulls are not in stores, try a wig stand available at places like Hobby Lobby and possibly Joanns.

The skull as I purchased it


The tricky part was making decisions on how to make it look tacky but not in a junky way. Working with glitter (especially overpowering objects covered in a lot of glitter) can be tough. Here's what I did...


For this project, you will need...


  • - A glittery skull (see first paragraph of this post)
  • - Felt
  • - A sewing needle
  • - Embroidery thread
  • - Rhinestones
  • - A hot glue gun, glue sticks
  • - Scissors
  • - Craft paint/acrylic paint
  • - Paintbrush (the more abrasive texture, the better)


1. Begin by painting parts of your skull with the craft paint. This allows you to work on other parts of the skull while the paint dries. I suggest painting specific shapes or concave shapes- the eye sockets, the nose, individual teeth. Using different colors only adds to the creative feel you're going for. Wash your brushes when you're done!


2. While the craft paint dries, get out your scissors and felt. I used this tutorial to create my flowers using teal felt. The tutorial says to use a tacky glue, but I sped the process up by using a hot glue gun. I added little red strips to the spaces between the petals for extra color and pizazz. I also cut a heart out of felt and used embroidery thread to add more color and refine the edges. Sometimes laying felt shapes out on something as bold as a glittery skull just isn't enough.

3. Now it's time to add some glitz! Dump your rhinestones out and begin matching them in pairs of two. It's important that when you glue them onto your skull, that the design is symmetrical. This means that if you put a purple on one side of the nose, that you put a purple on the same spot of the other side of the nose. This creates a unified composition on your sugar skull and it is proven to be pleasing to the eye. If you have rhinestones going willy nilly all over your skull, it can create a headache, not a smile. Add on rhinestones in a symmetrical fashion until you feel like your skull has enough. Sometimes, less is more.

4. Once the rhinestones are in place and the craft paint is dried, use the glue gun to glue your flowers into the eye sockets. If you're lucky like me, you won't have to glue them into the eye sockets because they'll just fit securely in there.

5. Step back and assess your work. Does it need anything else? If it does, fix it. Then move on to step 6.

6. Display it proudly in your home! It's a gorgeous piece of work!

If you are interested in Day of the Dead (DOTD), you should read my posts on making a DOTD garland, my Frida Kahlo altar box, or artwork dedicated to the holiday. If you live in Atlanta, you should go celebrate at Bone Garden Cantina, a DOTD themed restaurant. Today is my first wedding anniversary and my husband is taking me there for dinner! Bueno suerte!

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