One of my favorite parts of the big Halloween Haunt we setup in our yard every year are these Tiki Torch Skulls! There's a pathway leading through our yard that begins at the sidewalk and to enter you need to walk through an entryway where these torches are lit and it just sets the stage for the experience. They look awesome and they're crazy simple to make!
This build uses a plastic skull from the big box store and one of the classic Tiki citronella torches commonly found in yards all over the world.
- Tiki Torch
- Brown Twine
- Plastic Skull
- Hot Glue
- Wood Stain
- Paper Towels
- Piece of Paper
- Hot Glue Gun
- Rotary Tool or Saw (To Cut the Skull)
- Black Marker
Step 1: Aging the Skull!
What we like about these plastic skulls from the big box stores is that they have great sculpts and they're the appropriate size, but they definitely look very white and "plastic-ey". Luckily, this is really easy to fix.
Using some old oil-based wood stain, we liberally cover the entire skull with stain. We make sure to get all the small cracks, nooks and crannies of the skull. After about ten minutes, we use a clean rag to wipe off the excess stain but leave a few blotches here and there for effect. The stain we're using is a Dark Walnut color. It's great for this effect because it's dark brown but has some grey in it which gives it that "old & dirty" look.
During most of this process, the removable Jaw was taken off so it was easier to work with.
This stain we're using takes about 24 hours to dry and it's important to let it dry completely before continuing. If you don't want to wait 24 hours, you can find alternatives like water based stain and brown paint, but in our experience this works best and lasts the longest.
Optionally you can dry brush some different colors on the skull but in our case this looked great so we moved on!
Step 2: The Tiki Torch!
We removed the oil canister from the skull and then held it upside down to trace a template on a piece of paper. This circle was then cut out with scissors and we placed it on top of the skull, tracing the outline with a black marker. The placement of the circle here is optional but remember that wherever you place it on top, it has to come out of the bottom. If you make a bunch of these, this is a good way to add some variance to the builds.
We started by using a rotary tool with a cutting disk to cut out the top. In hindsight, a hole saw drill bit would have been better but we didn't think of it in time. After cutting out the bulk of the waste, a drum sanding bit was used to clean up the edges. We held up the torch and it didn't quite fit so we used the marker to mark where it needed to be adjusted and did a few more passes with the drum sanding bit. In a short time, it fit perfectly.
For the bottom, we used a straight edge to roughly mark where the hole should go (see video/pics) and then used a hole saw drill bit to drill out the bulk of the waste. From there, we repeated the same process with the drum sanding bit to get the fit we wanted.
The Tiki Torch is tapered so the holes aren't exactly the same size, this is why we took our time to sand them to a perfect fit. Another way to add variance to a bunch of different torches is the height on which the skull is on the torch. You can have them go all the way to the top or be slightly lower, depending on how big you make these holes!
Step 3: The Final Details!
With such a tight fit it only took a small bead of hot glue around the edges of the skull to secure it in place on the tiki torch.
Because we used an older torch that'd been sitting in our yard for a long time, it was kind of falling apart and we took the opportunity to add some rings of brown twine to both hold it together and to give it some fun, realistic details. Very easy thing to add and it gives it a lot more character.
Lastly, the jaw piece has two small tabs that no longer fit because of the placement of the skull so those had to be cut off with scissors and then we hot glued the jaw back in place.
These torches are made to be stuck into the ground so from there it was a simple task of putting them in the ground and lighting them up!
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