Tabletop Ghost

This project is obviously a Halloween thing.  You could make other characters for other holidays with a little inspiration, altho it would require some serious tweaking.  But that’s another blog for another time.  And let me stop right now and admit, I made some mistakes on this, so what I started out with was not what I ended up with.  The first ghost had “issues”.  I’ll explain, and hopefully it will be a learning experience for you, as it was for me.

You will need:

  • 1 plain white cotton t-shirt per ghost (I used an old one of my husband’s)
  • Elmer’s white glue (any white glue is fine I’m sure but I had a big bottle of Elmer’s)
  • large bowl you don’t care about to mix the glue and water in (I don’t like to use my good stuff for these things)
  • wooden chopsticks (or thin wooden dowels, or something like that, but chopsticks are awesome because you can usually get those for free)
  • foil (or you can use plastic sheeting or plastic bags or something like that to protect your counter but I wouldn’t use paper)
  • scissors
  • round ball (I used a round Christmas ball I had — I think you could cover a foam ball with plastic wrap and use that, I’m just not sure if the foam would release easily from the fabric or not)
  • tape–something that will stick well like packing tape
  • latex gloves (this is MESSY!)

As you can see I have vaseline in this picture and DO NOT have tape.  Here we go with some of my errors.  I would just avoid telling you about them, but I think they might be instructive.

Before you start, be sure to put down foil (or something, but the foil worked really well) on your counter top to protect them and make cleaning up easy.

First, I wanted to use the water bottle for the base, put the glass ball on the top for the head, use the chopsticks for arms, drape the t-shirt over it to let it dry and there you have it, a cute ghost!  HAHAHA, I’m so clever.  OK , maybe not.

First problem, I had to affix the head.  Glue, obviously.  I put a little glue on the rim of the water bottle and stuck the glass ball on that.  While I waited for that to dry, I cut the sleeves and seams off of the t-shirt and got a big enough piece of fabric to make my ghost.  I wasn’t really planning to have a perfectly round ghost, so if you are a measuring type, you had better do some planning.  🙂

The glue was still not dry for the head, so I took it off while I cut the slits to put the arms into the bottle. I stuck the chopsticks into the holes and put the head back on.  Somehow during this procedure, the glass ball went flying off into the sink, and, well, that’s not good for glass balls.  Fortunately I had more of them.  But I realized that gluing them on was not the best way.

Tape.  I found my roll of packing tape and made sure it wasn’t going to happen again.

It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t need to be.  After all, this was all going to come out after the glue mixture was dry.  All it had to do was hold the fabric up until then.

I did think, at this point, that old fashioned light bulbs would be outstanding as heads.  But I don’t know if you can still get them.

I also realized that if I just draped the fabric over the chopsticks like this he was going to have very pointy hands, which I didn’t think would be very aesthetically pleasing, so my husband suggested foil balls on the ends to round them out.  I didn’t get a photo of it, but it worked well.  And who doesn’t always have a roll of foil around?

He wasn’t exactly beautiful, but he would work, I thought.  Except, I was concerned about the glue sticking to the glass ball and bottle and sticks.  Being so smart I covered them in Vaseline.  It works in molds so I figured it would work here.

Meanwhile, I had done a little reading on fabric stiffening, and discovered that the suggested mixture for white glue is 2 parts glue to 1 part water.  You can use more glue if you want, but I thought I would start with the standard and go from there.   By the way there ARE other things you can use, but this seemed to be the easiest and most economical especially since I had several bottles of Elmer’s just hanging around waiting to become ghosts.

Next I draped the dry fabric over the form to see if it would fit, did some trimming until I liked the size (I didn’t want to be trimming a drippy, gluey, wet piece of fabric).

Then I mixed up the glue (2 parts glue/1 part water), put on my latex gloves (yes, I buy gloves by the box because I do a lot of messy stuff!) and dipped the t-shirt fabric into the mixture.  I made sure to swish it around, push it around, open the fabric, and get it all over.  Then I sort of squeezed out the excess (but not overly) and draped it over the form.  Yeah, it’s messy!  Don’t do this in your prom dress!  🙂

I think this is the fun part.  Just play with it, draping it, pulling it into the shape you want.  You have plenty of time, I assure you!  The first one took over 24 hours to dry.  I was worried that it would stick to the foil, but it pulls off, no problem, really, just be careful.  

You can use a blow dryer to hurry the drying up some, but you have to be careful because it also straightens out some of the lovely draping effect.  I found the blow dryer was best toward the end of the drying when most of the shape was already set.  And of course the bottom took the longest.  It might have been a good idea if I’d had some sort of wire rack to dry it on.  But then, that might have distorted the draping, I’m not sure.  All things to try.

However, there WAS a problem.  The Vaseline.  Guess what?  It stays on the fabric and is greasy.  It looks yucky and feels even worse!  Sadness and despair!  However it was short lived.  I had enough stuff to make another one.  And I did.  The second one is not quite as cute as the first because I was in a hurry and I was annoyed at myself for not thinking, of COURSE Vaseline is greasy.  However, it still turned into a cool project, with some other cool applications.

It wasn’t that difficult to get the ghost off of the form without Vaseline, just be careful (it is not so stiff that you can’t dent it or misshape it).  And it will take at LEAST 24 hours to dry.   I drew the eyes on with a black sharpie (medium size).  You could glue on googly eyes if you wanted.  I wanted a fairly simple face.  I have no idea how long these will hold up, but they are cheap and not so much work that you would be that upset if you tossed them, to be honest.








And the pair, finished–TADA!


  1. Lau W says:

    Oh wow ! it’s a super project ! BOO ! love ghosts !!!!
    Hugs and kisses !

  2. A great idea, I love messy, the kids love messy and it’s easy enough to clean up afterwards, I love your sentence ‘I had several bottles of Elmer’s just hanging around waiting to become ghosts.’ :o)

    Jan x

  3. Mrs A. says:

    Fantastic!!! Hugs Mrs A.

  4. Thats a good idea as a table top halloween centre peice. We did fireworks this year so next year will be halloween ~ all for my little nephew of course!!!

    Thanks for visiting bath bomb creations too. We have a raffle too and hope you LIkE us on FB.

    • Susie says:

      I will find you on FB! I don’t think I knew you were there, I am trying to find everyone everywhere! 🙂 And yes, I thought these would be fun center pieces, and so cheap you could toss them if you didn’t have storage space. Thanks for the visit.

  5. Judy says:

    Oooh, hubby has tons of white under shirts that I will have to “borrow” from when Halloween comes around…I had seen ghosts like this made from cheesecloth but didn’t want to buy cheesecloth. This is the perfect solution!

Speak Your Mind