OK, these clown skulls weren’t my greatest idea, but maybe you can think of a way to make them work a little better.
I have to admit that I was pretty impressed by how well the crackle effect worked, though – it’s just a coat of white acrylic paint brushed over wet Elmer’s glue. I might use that again, someday.
And I did like the skulls before painting the clown faces on them, and I can always paint them again so they weren’t a total loss. 🙂
If you want to make more realistic skulls, you might be able to find some Styrofoam skulls at Walmart or your local craft store, and cover them with a thin layer of paper mache clay. If you’d like to use my skull-shaped face sculpting form, you can find the pattern and videos here.
And if you’re wondering where I got the Golden Acrylic Glazing Liquid that I talked about in the video, I bought it from Amazon.com here.
To make the clown skulls…
I started out by printing two copies of my skull-shaped face-sculpting form on full-sheet labels. They’re slightly smaller than normal. I believe I set the printer at 90%. I stuck the labels on cereal box cardboard, taped them together, and covered them with a thin layer of paper mache clay.
I added some WED clay to the mixture, just to see if it would make the PM clay a nice old bone color. I was just playing around, so ignore that part – it’s exactly the same color as FolkArt’s Linen acrylic paint that you can get at Walmart.
I had to add the paper mache clay in stages, because you need a dry place to hold on to. I let the first area dry in front of a fan until it was firm enough to handle, and then finished the rest of the skull. Then I put them back in front of the fan and left them overnight. I used a very thin layer, and that really cuts down on the time needed to get them dry.
Drill a hole in the skulls…
I drilled a small hole in the top of the skulls so I could hang them from a string near my front door. You might be able to cut a hole some other way, but even a thin layer of paper mache dries really hard.
Add Elmer’s glue and white paint …
I used a crackled white acrylic glaze over the darker paper mache clay when it was dry, to help make the bones look older. To do that, I painted on a thick coat of Elmer’s Glue-All first, and then painted the white directly over the wet glue.
I wanted the white to be somewhat transparent, but I wasn’t sure if this glue-and-paint crackle method would work if I thinned the acrylic paint with water, so I used Golden Glazing Liquid instead. It definitely cracked. Whether or not it makes the bones look older or not is a matter of opinion – I still haven’t decided.
Paint shadows in the empty parts of the skull …
When the white paint was dry, I used a dark grey acrylic paint mixed with some glazing liquid, and darkened the eye sockets and nose. I used a paper towl to smudge the edges of the grey to make it look more like a shadow. I would normally use my finger for smudging, if I didn’t know you were going to be watching me do it. I actually did use my finger on the second one, and I think it actually turned out better.
This is the point where I actually liked the skulls. When this video is finished I’ll probably paint over the clown faces with the Linen acrylic paint, do another white cracked layer over that, and darken the eye sockets and nose. I think I would also make the skulls even grungier with a final very thin glaze of burnt umber and golden glazing liquid, wiped off with a dry paper towel.
Paint the clown face colors ..
I drew the clown faces onto the skulls. This is when it became pretty obvious that clown faces really need the face…
When I first thought of this idea it sounded fun to pretend that archeologists found bones of a new species of human, called clownicus americanus, perhaps, and the bones were the same color as a clown’s skin — the way a tiger’s skin has the same stripes as their fur.
That means that clowns are born with clown faces, which is even more of a stretch – and clown teeth aren’t painted, so maybe leaving them white would have helped, at least a little.
Add one more layer of the crackled paint and glue …
I thinned all the colors except the dark grey with the glazing liquid, to try to make those areas look old, too. I wasn’t happy with it, so I added more crackled, transparent white over the painted faces.
I still didn’t like it.
Seriously – if you can think of a way to actually make this idea work, let me know. 🤡
Even though I don’t like the way the clown skulls turned out, it was still nice to have an excuse to ignore the garden (and all the latest news) and just play around for awhile. For a few hours, the garden and the chickens and the rest of my small farm had to fend for themselves – and they did just fine without me. 🙂