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It's all about whimsy, art and Halloween!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sugar Skull Bracelet and Bats in the Belfry Choker

1 pack of assorted shrink plastic, including white and black
Dowel (about 1/4 inch) or other instrument to wrap wire around
Fine point permanent markers - black, pink, orange, green & purple
Stretchy beading string
Needle nose pliers
Colorful seed beads
Assorted beads you might want on your bracelet
Pewter cross charm
24 Gauge wire, any color
Hole punch
Acrylic spray sealer

For the Bats in the Belfry Choker you will want to add these as well

Opaque gel pens - white and any color you want for the bat's eyes
Orange and purple narrow ribbon
Narrow black cord

Shrink plastic is a wonderful medium for turning hand drawn elements into jewelry. I love the holiday Day of the Dead! It happens around Halloween, but it's a celebration of ancestry. I'm so inspired by the colors and imagery. The humorous skeletons represent our loved ones doing the things they loved to do in life. Sugar skulls are a popular treat. This project was designed to honor the artistic and spiritual women in my family line. Below are a couple of ceramic skulls I've made.

I used white shrink plastic for the skull charms and punched them out with Martha Stewart's skull punch (you can freehand skulls and cut them out yourself if you prefer - more about that below). I used fine tip permanent markers to make a design that I drew on both sides of all seven skulls. I only used five skulls for the bracelet, I saved two to make earrings. So let's get started!
Create your sugar skull design and bake the shrink plastic according to the directions. Don't forget to punch a hole in each skull BEFORE baking. After baking, protect your designs by spraying the skulls with a sealer
To turn the skulls into charms, you'll want to do some wire wrapping. The wrapping I do for bracelets is fairly large so the charms will move easily. Start with about six inches of 24 gauge wire (any color), wrap twice around a 1/4 inch dowel (or anything you can find that's about that diameter - I used a chopstick). Twist to secure. Slide the double loop off the dowel.
Beginning close to the double loop, wrap the wire around once and slide it off the dowel without twisting.
Pick out some colorful seed beads and slip three or four on the open loop. Slide a skull onto the loop and add three or four more beads onto the loop (you can use more or less if it suits your fancy). Put the loop back on the dowel (this helps your loop keep it's shape) and twist.
Wrap around and around to make a big messy middle on the charm. Repeat for as many skull charms as you want.
The bead charms are just a little different. Make your double loop. Thread the long end of the wire through a bead . Wrap the wire around the bead, back to the middle and make your messy pile. Take care to tuck the end of the wire in as close as you can with needle nosed pliers so it won't snag your clothes
Cut a ten inch length of stretchy bead string. Lay out it out with your charms on one side and several possible bead choices on the other side. This makes it easy to begin stringing the bracelet. It takes me many tries to get the look the I want at a length that works, so don't be disappointed if you don't get it just right the first time.
This is how the knot should be tied, according to the the stretchy string people.
Bats in the Belfry Choker
Along the same lines as the sugar skull charms, you can draw funky skulls and bats to make into charms. I used permanent markers on the white shrink plastic and opaque gel pens on the black shrink plastic for the bats. The pictures below show the size of the skulls and bats when I cut them out and their size after baking. You can get a variety pack of shrink plastic that includes the white, black, brown and frosted shrink plastic for about $5 at Michael's. Don't forget to punch holes before baking and spray with sealer after.

For the choker I used glass candy corn beads and strung the whole bunch on on purple wire. I made loops on the ends of the wire and tied bits of black cord and purple and orange ribbon to tie around the neck. I left several inches in front, fraying the black cord and then added some shorter pieces of the ribbons. I braided the long ends to make them easier to tie.


  1. I'm a big fan of Shrink Plastic too! These are great.


  2. Candace - this is the CUTEST! I just remembered that I still haven't sent you your embossed glue skull on canvas project in process!

    Halloween hugs!


  3. I love these skulls!! I've had packets of shrink plastic languishing in the basement -clearly, I need to dig them out!

  4. Really adorable! And great tutorial too! ♥ Becky

  5. I never used shrink plastic when I was a kid, but I've recently begun to craft with it. I love the versatility of it, and your bracelet and necklace are so AWESOME!! I usually use sharpies or bic permanent markers, never thought to use gel pens. On black, I normally use silver sharpie. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. This is soo cute!
    I absolutely LOVE the skull punch!
    I have never seen one before.
    Thanks for sharing

  7. I love the shrink plastic bats! Adorable project idea.