Introduction: Super Real-look Concrete Skulls
I hate fake looking decorations! I also hate disposable or expensive ones! Well, these are super real looking! AND they will last so long and you can so many with one bag of concrete to share or make an amazing 'graveyard'
- Thin-walled plastic skulls from the Dollar tree or similar
- Rapidset Cementall Concrete mix or similar
- Mixing container, water, and mixing utensil
- Dust mask for Concrete and nitrile gloves
- peat or soil mixed with sand
- Xacto knife
Step 1: Readying the Mold:
I picked up inexpensive plastic skulls at the local Dollar Tree store. I liked that they are flexible and pretty good scale. ‘And you know I’m always looking for easy molds… Look for pretty thin and good details as the inside is what matters.
To use these as simple molds for these you will need to get ample access into the inside by cutting open the back and also cut a line up the back of the scull.
This will allow you fill from the back. The chin is still in place as well as much of the top of head.
Step 2: Fun With Concrete
These Super Real look skulls use my favourite concrete mix; Rapidset Cementall. There may be other mixes than can substitute but the regular mixes will not be strong or fine enough. If you are not sure about mixes see here for some help. Read specs for setting time and recommended thicknesses. You do not want a mix with aggregate (stones) in it.
The other ‘Key’ ingredient is this unique procedure is some simple sand/soil or peat mix. It can pretty well be any fine organic material. This is my own unique design and makes all the difference of details. Why cast something if it looks like plastic?
Mix some of the Rapidset Cementall mix to a pretty low slump (not runny) consistency. Give it a minute to slightly set up and make it able to be scooped up in little ‘squishable’ bits. Take small dollops of the mix and press into the back of the face. You are NOT trying for perfection at all. I try to get 3/16″ to 3/8″ thickness.
Note: keep areas that are meant to be open like eyes and nose free from the concrete. If you can’t fit fingers a wet brush works well to push too.
Sprinkle some of the Sand/soil mix in between the dollops and don’t be too fussy. This is what will give the texture and aged look. The edges should also be quite rough and random as if it’s been around for a few hundred years….
Step 3: Special Way to Fill the Mold:
Each skull can have different edges and be more or less complete. Some may have more skull top or even no bottom of the jaw. These are so forgiving to make and take so little amount of mix.
Generally the inside is not that important but if you like you can make it look even more rustic by dabbing with the soil/sand mixture. Note the open eyes and nose.
Step 4: Unmolding:
Yes, in about an hour these will be set. That’s why I like this mix, hardly any waiting! It is also very very strong!
Manipulate the form to open up the back and pop out that skull face. Wriggle a bit if it’s being stubborn. Even if you break one you can ‘cement’ it together with some more mix to look even more cool and aged.
You just never know how exactly these will look. The rustic rough edges add extra character that you just don’t get from any plastic junk.
Step 5: Aged Finishing Technique:
The rough broken bits and sand texture look like they have been decaying for many years; as if they have been chewed by all the little bugs…
Once you make a couple you just can’t stop; they are so easy, quick and cool.
You can certainly leave them as is, but as an artist I always like to take it up a notch.
To age these even more I give them a quick once-over with a Matt Medium. See also this post for making concrete look aged. This is so that they are less absorbent to the antiquing. Concrete will take in colour quite easily so this will close the pores, but do not seal every part, do not cover completely.
Once the Matt medium is dry, mix some black acrylic paint with water and matt medium to make a thin runny mix. Liberally let this flow over all the details so that it gets in all the details but does not obliterate them. Before it dries wipe off the excess. The dark will stay in the details and crevices to look even more aged and ‘dirty’
Step 6: More Accenting:
If you think you want the details to stand out even more, use a soft brush with a light white or cream colour to bring out the highlights by the dry-brush technique. Use the acrylic paint undiluted and only work a bit into the brush at a time and rub on some paper towel to rid of the excess. Quickly rub over the high points of the skull and it will look even more defined. and bone-like.
How amazing is this texture?! ‘Hard t believe it’s not a real old bone?! To accent you can also darken the inside and the eye socket and nose holes. If you would like a mossy look you can add some green flocking as getting moss to grow is almost impossible. I figured that out here.
Step 7: Make Your Burial Ground...
Since they are not solid and fairly thin the amount of concrete used is quite small so I made a whole bunch as more is always better than less!
Hide these in the garden amongst the moss and (turkey) bones. Maybe make a whole sculpture with these stacked on a post, or nestled into some autumn arrangements. Do not skip the sand/soil mixture, that’s what makes all the difference here! You won’t see this design process anywhere else (but on my site; with lots of concrete ideas!)
Yes, there’s a crazy burial site in my backyard… but no one was harmed in the making.
Join in the concrete fun and more projects here. If you are a bit nervous about working in concrete see some Tips & tricks here. Happy Halloween and scary concrete!
Participated in the