DIY Illuminated Large Clay Ghosts

home made halloween ghosts glowing with tea lights in a fall setting

These large clay ghosts are both spooky and chic, with their glowing eyes and stone white finish. I wouldn’t call myself a sculptor by any means— I’m sure its obvious from the rumpled and cracked finish that this was an amateur DIY, and yet, that’s part of what I like about them! I find the imperfection charming. Even if the taller one does look a little like Cthulhu. 

Although any kind of clay can be used to make these large clay ghosts, I think the natural clay is the best part of this project. It was tricky to work with— it cracks when too dry and falls apart when too wet, and it took me three tries before I successfully formed the first ghost— but I absolutely love the finished look and texture. And it’s not plastic! Another plus.

My original plan was to make these ghosts even larger than they are, but I didn’t have enough clay. I’d love to see if you make and extra large one! Go nuts!

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spooky diy lit ghosts
Large clay ghosts, looking over the living room with their eerie glowing gaze.

Clay Ghost Materials

materials laid out for diy clay ghost lanterns
pen cap from a felt tip pen to cut circles
No fancy cutters needed to create the ghost’s eyes. Use a pen cap!
  • Jars, around the desired height of your ghosts
    • I used a pint mason jar and a half pint mason jar, unlike what’s shown in the picture!
    • Larger ghosts may be possible to make, but you will need more clay.
  • Lacrosse or tennis balls
    • These will be the round tops of the ghosts
    • If you’re wondering what you’ll ever use these for again, they’re great for massaging tight muscles.
  • Small knife
  • Pen cap, around the desired size of your ghosts’ eyes
  • Rolling pin
    • For rolling the clay
  • Cling wrap
    • This will keep the clay from sticking to your work surface as you roll it out, and make it easy to transfer onto the jar/ball form. It will also keep the clay from sticking to the jar/ball form as it air-dries.
  • Small bowl of water and/or spray bottle of water
    • This will moisten and smooth the natural clay 
  • Natural air-dry clay
    • Any air dry clay should work I think! If you use a different type of clay, follow that clay’s instructions. You probably won’t need to add water.
  • Rechargeable tea light candles
    • I highly recommend these tea lights in particular! Not only are they rechargeable, they also have a timer setting, which means they’ll turn on automatically at the same time everyday.
    • I’m not sure if using a real flame would be safe, so I don’t recommend it.
    • Alternatively, a string of battery powered string lights curled up inside would work great!
glowing tealight ghosts

How to make DIY Clay Ghosts

lacross balls sitting on jars as a form for air dry clay ghosts

Set up your ghost forms by placing the ball on top of the jar you want to use.

(Please note– I used 1 pint mason jar and 1 half pint mason jar, not the kombucha jar pictured.)

natural air dry clay

Next, divide the clay for your ghosts.
In my case, I used a pint mason jar and a half pint mason jar. The half pint jar is half the size of the pint jar, so I divided the block of clay like this.

Wrap up the section you will use second in cling wrap so it doesn’t dry out.

spritzing natural clay to keep it from drying out and cracking

Spritz the clay or add a few drops of water to help soften and moisturize it.

working natural air dry clay

Knead and work the water into the clay with your hands.

Altogether, I added about 3 spritzes of water, one spritz at a time.

a blob of natural air dry clay pressed flat

Lay out a piece of cling wrap on your work surface and flatten your blob of clay with your palms.

air dry clay that's been rolled out for a large ghost

Working quickly (because the clay will dry out), roll out the clay to about 1/8” thick.

It does not need to be a perfect circle.

transferring the clay onto the form to make a ghost

Transfer the rolled out clay AND the cling wrap to the ball/jar form, centered as best you can.

bulky draped clay

Here you can see that the clay is draped in a bulky way…

sculpting the clay into ghost form

…so, use your hands to press the wrinkles down and out around the ghost’s head to make it more ghost-like.
Work quickly. Imperfection is part of the charm!

Please note– Don’t press into the jar too much, or it won’t come off later!

using a pen cap to punch out the eyes of the ghost

Next, punch out the eyes with the pen cap.

Spin the can gently to cut through and remove.

smoothing natural clay with water

Last, dip your finger in a bowl of water and use your finger to smooth over any small cracks.

Be careful that you don’t use too much water, which can cause the clay to break/fall apart!

natural clay wrapped in cling wrap to dry slowly

Carefully move the ghost to a cling wrap lined area (I used a tray) to dry for a few days.

Cover the ghost with cling wrap. This will help the clay dry slowly, preventing it from shrinking and cracking as it dries.

loosened cling wrap draped around ghosts

I let mine sit completely covered for 3 days. But they’re not dry yet.

Then, I loosened the wrap surrounding the ghosts for a day…

clay ghosts uncovered to finish drying

…and then I removed the wrap the following day after that.

I didn’t fully take the ghosts off their forms until they felt completely dry and had turned nearly white, which was at least a few days after uncovering them entirely.

inside of a clay tea light ghost

I believe they took 7-10 days to dry all the way.

They were a little bit difficult to remove from the forms because of the sculpting close to the jar, but they did come out with gentle pulling/wiggling!

You can see the imprint of the jar on the inside of the ghost.

placing a clay ghost over candle

Finally, put the ghost over the tea light and enjoy the glow!

how to make air dry clay ghosts

I hope this post has sparked some ideas for you! Although it was tricky, I enjoyed using this natural clay and I’d like to use it for many more projects in the future.

Have a wonderful, spooky Halloween!

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