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Day of the Dead craft: How to decorate plastic sugar skulls

Here is a fun Day of the Dead craft: How to decorate plastic sugar skulls! 

First of all – sugar skulls are a very important part of Dia de Muertos – Day of the Dead. The sugar represents the sweetness of life. 

Check out my post – Three Facts About Sugar Skulls

This happens to me every year – I always plan to make an entire collection of traditional sugar skulls in the summer so that they will be ready by fall. Once again, that did not happen on time. I was in a crunch for a photo shoot and really wanted to have some sugar skulls for a special picture.

Plastic sugar skulls to the rescue!

I bought some blank skulls at the craft store, these are always readily available. Check the dollar store too! Rather than just paint them, I wanted to recreate the look of actual sugar skulls. This turned out to be a perfect Day of the Dead craft because anyone can do this!


Plastic sugar skulls

Decoupage medium

Chunky white glitter

Jumbo gems

Puffy Paint

Paint brush


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A post shared by Kathy Cano-Murillo (@craftychica)


Directions for how to decorate plastic sugar skulls

Day of the Dead craft: How to decorate plastic sugar skulls

Cover your area with paper or plastic to keep your work table clean!

Use a wide round brush and coat the plastic sugar skull with decoupage medium. Make sure to get all the spots!

Day of the Dead craft: How to decorate plastic sugar skulls

Working over a piece of paper, pour the glitter over the wet decoupage medium.

Let dry.

Next steps

Day of the Dead craft: How to decorate plastic sugar skulls


Shake the bottle of Puffy Paint, then turn it upside down and tap it on the table. Then open the Puffy Paint and test it out on a scratch piece of paper. This is so important – that way you will know if it comes out smooth before you try it on your project!

Write out the name on the plastic sugar skull and add any other decorations you want. 

You can even add in jumbo gems, sequins and glitter!

Day of the Dead craft: How to decorate plastic sugar skulls

As an added touch that I wish I had thought of earlier… Whipped clay!

Day of the Dead craft: How to decorate plastic sugar skulls

It added that perfect little touch. I let them dry overnight, and they were ready to go the next morning.

Day of the Dead craft: How to decorate plastic sugar skulls

Do you like to make traditional sugar skulls? I am so excited to make a new batch this year. Working on these definitely gave me a lot of inspiration! 

Other ways to decorate plastic sugar skulls

Decorating plastic sugar skulls for Day of the Dead can be a wonderful, creative endeavor that allows you to honor loved ones while also engaging in a vibrant artistic expression. Here are various ideas to consider, offering a wide scope for creativity and personalization:

Soft Sculpture Skull, CraftyChica.com

Traditional vs. Modern:
– Explore traditional motifs found in historical sugar skulls, such as floral eyes, stitched mouths, and swirling vine patterns.
– Or opt for a modern twist by incorporating contemporary designs, symbols, or pop culture references that might have been significant to your loved ones.

– Utilize materials like fabrics, yarn, or textured papers to add a tactile element to your skulls. For example, fabric flowers or yarn-woven patterns can bring warmth and depth to your design.
– Use embossing techniques or 3D paint to elevate certain designs and add a tangible texture to your skull.

Incorporate Personal Elements
– Embed small photographs, memory tokens, or tiny written messages within the design of your skull to make it deeply personal and meaningful.
– Consider using colors or patterns that were favorites of your departed loved ones.

Beads and Jewelry
– Consider adhering colorful beads, broken pieces of jewelry, or small gems to create intricate patterns and sparkling designs.
– You might even create bead strings to drape around the skull, forming a dazzling veil of colors and reflections.

Mosaic Magic
– Craft a mosaic using colored glass, broken ceramics, or sea glass. Attach the pieces with strong adhesive, creating vibrant, multicolored patterns and textures on your skull.
– Utilize grout or colored adhesive to enhance the visual impact of your mosaic design.

More ideas

Symbolic Embellishments
– Integrate symbols that have specific meanings in Day of the Dead celebrations, such as marigolds, crosses, or spirit animals, to respect and adhere to the cultural significance of the event.
– Alternatively, include symbols that held specific meanings to your loved ones, turning the skull into a symbolic homage to their life and memories.

Go Metallic
– Employ metallic paints or adhesive metallic leaf to introduce a striking, luxurious element to your skull.
– Combine different metallic tones, such as gold, silver, and copper, to create a rich, luminous effect.

Light it Up
– Integrate LED lights or glow-in-the-dark paint to make your skull illuminate and stand out in dim lighting, adding a mystical, ethereal quality to your creation.
– Consider placing a light source within a translucent plastic skull, providing an alluring, inner glow that warmly illuminates any space.

– Adorn your skull with elements from nature, such as pressed flowers, leaves, or twigs, creating an organic, earthly aesthetic.
– Explore themes of life and death by incorporating seeds or live moss, symbolizing the cyclic nature of existence.

Abstract Artistry
– Let your imagination wander and create abstract designs using splatter paint techniques, random assortments of color, or non-traditional patterns.
– Integrate asymmetrical and unconventional designs to make your skull a unique, avant-garde piece of art.

Remember that your sugar skull, while a piece of art, is also a tribute. Each element should be chosen and applied with care, love, and respect, honoring both the tradition of Day of the Dead and the memories of those being remembered. Whatever direction you choose for decorating, ensure it is imbued with meaning, reverence, and a true reflection of your feelings and memories.

Thanks for checking out my Day of the Dead craft about how to decorate plastic sugar skulls!


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