DIY Decaying Bat Skeletons: For the Halloween-obsessed, or the Criminally Insane

My apologies for the delay in bring Halloween madness to the site.  I have some sad news: I will not be turning our home into a living nightmare this year.  However, I will be dedicating all of my Halloween energy into creating spooky items for Cass & Merlune and a party of epic proportions next year.

Frederico like to hang out.  Get it?

Sometimes, when you reach a certain level of delusion in Halloween Decorating mania,  you need to take a step back and think: do I feel like I belong in Martha Stewart Living, or do I belong in a place with padded walls?  These bats look like they came straight out of the nightmares of Bruce Wayne, and I felt a little bit like a mad scientist when I was making them.  If you are looking for a smiling, friendly bat that says "Boo! Happy Haunting!", then you my friend have come to the wrong blog.  This DIY takes your decor to a whole new level, without actually purchasing dead bats (which I scarily enough looked into before deciding that it was utter nonsense.  I would MAKE my own dead bats.)  Once you get the hang of it, you can start popping these babies out in bulk and hang them in trees, in a branch centerpiece, or various plant life.  Just keep them out of reach of cats, because mine wanted to kill Frederico with all of his being (yes, of course I named my bat.)

*Please note - it is really hard to see the detail in these photos.  Click on each photo to see a larger version. 


The best thing is, these are dirt cheap to make, and you likely have some (or all) of the ingredients on hand:

-Hot glue gun & glue sticks

-Wire ( I used thick floral wire, but thin would work fine too.) 

-Tissue paper

-Parchment paper

-Clay (or make it yourself like I did .) 

-Flour or white glue

-Paint (white or cream, brown and black.) 

Step 1:  Make the skull out of clay.  This part sucked, because I was terrible at it.  Turns out my fairy Godmothers did not gift me with the skill of making bat skulls with ease. Luckily, there are some amazing shops on Etsy that are much better at it than I am if you are looking for perfection.  Click here for a Bat skull, and here for a raven skull if you feel like having a creepy bat/raven hybrid.  However, I just stuck with mine because I planned to add a bunch of decomposing "skin" and paint to it to cover up the multitude of flaws.  If you want to make your own, my advice would be to make it in two parts: the top part with two gaping eye holes, and the bottom part with some fangs.  However, you shouldn't listen to me at all, because look at mine.  Make yours, and if it's better than mine, then tell me how to do it.

Step 2: Make the body.   I made mine with a mixture of hot glue and wire. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper, and start with the base of a long stream of hot glue (the hot glue will easily peel off the parchment paper.)  Basically, it is a long line for the spine, with dots for vertebae, some scapula, and hip bones.  In the photo, I made some legs, but it is actually much easier to make legs with wire, and I wound up cutting off the glue.

Seriously, I am really embarrassed by how bad these photos came out.  I hope you get the point.

Glue the rib bones to the spine.  You will probably need to do them one or two at a time so they dry upright.  I also bent mine a little bit so the rib cage is tilted downward. 

There will be a lot of stringy things.  Just let 'em dry and snip them all off before you paint it.

A close up of the finished body.

Next comes making the rib bones from wire.  Just cut out some lengths ranging from 2" - 3", and bend them in almost circles (I wanted mine to look like some of the bones had broken off, so I have some of them come together and others not.) 

They can look a little janky too, because they will be partially covered with decaying skin.  I made about 8 rib bones.  Real bats may have more or less, but I did not look it up., and I don't ever care to.

And now comes the fun part - the wings.   I used thinner wire for these because I wanted the ribs to be thicker, but you can use whatever you like.  I basically used one long piece on both sides that was bent at the bat "elbow" and another time for the wing structure, then added another bent piece at the bend of the wing.  Basically, you want it to be as few pieces of wire as possible, because then the structure is more stable.  You could even use one looong piece for the whole wing.  Glue it onto the body, then add glue dots where there would likely be more chunks of bat, like the elbows and wing connectors thingies.  I also added the wire legs, and made some wire claws.  I will note - make sure you make the claws long enough to actually hold onto whatever you are hanging the bat from.

Step 3: Paint the body a creamy bone color.  I highly advise using spray paint.  I didn't, and it was a pain, and I missed a lot of areas.  Paint the clay skull while you're at it. 

I'm telling you, Pan wanted this thing dead.  And then he wanted Frederico's family dead.  

Step 4: Honestly, at this point, it looked kinda cool on it's own, so you could just leave it as a skeleton, but I wanted to add some flesh to it.  Add the "skin", which is actually just papier mache tissue paper, which gives it a great crinkley texture and sheer look.  I used a brown color, but you can use any color and paint over it.   Mix either the white glue or flour with water (just like normal papier mache) and paste on both sides of the wings, and little ripped bits over the skull and body.  Make sure there are no clean cuts, only ripped edges.  You can even rip some holes in the wings for added decay.  Hang that bad boy up to dry.  After you are finished adding the skin, glue the skull onto the spine with hot glue.

I wound up adding more the the back to connect the wings to the body after checking out an image online.

Step 5: Otherwise known as, the last step which I have no picture for.  What can I say, I was in a hurry.   But basically, this step is a free for all - aging it with paint.  I watered down some black paint, dabbed it in the nooks and crannies (like the gaping eye holes) and over the wings, then blotted it off with a paper towel.  Then I added a layer of watered down brown to everything, and blotted off.  For the final step, I coated some areas with a satin top coat to give it the look of leathery bat skin, and it looked absolutely perfect.  If you have liquid latex on hand, that would also probably look amazing.  But just go to town, and if you make a mistake, just paint over it again.

Frederico did not appear to use sunscreen when he was alive. 

He was also maybe not very good about flossing.

You're done!  The first one may take awhile (took me about 1 1/2 hours total, with almost 45 minutes of that being me swearing as I tried to make a decent skull) but once you get the hang of it, it is much easier.


Nighttime.  This is when Frederico likes to get weird.

View from the back.

Well, would you look at that.  Dead bats CAN be adorable!