With a package of cheesecloth and a bottle of liquid starch, you and your kids can make a host of ghosts. Once the basics are mastered, the imagination kicks in.
How to Begin
You will need plastic milk jugs or other bottles to serve as form. Stuff crumpled foil into the mouth of the bottle to make the head. Roll more foil into a cylinder and wrap it around the bottle for arms.
Choose bottles of different sizes to make ghosts of different sizes.
Instead of foil for the head, you can use small balloons lodged into the mouth of the bottle. Pop the balloon when the ghost dries.
Cut the cheesecloth into generously sized squares, large enough to drape over the ghost head and the bottle. For each ghost, you will need two or three pieces of cheesecloth.
Before you start shaping the ghosts, lay plastic or foil on the work surface. The liquid starch is sticky stuff and a trial to clean up!
Making the Ghosts
Pour the liquid laundry starch into a stainless steel bowl or shallow, disposable dish (aluminum pans sold at supermarkets are great for this).
Line up the bottles with their "heads and arms" on the protected work surface. Make sure the starch is nearby - you don't want to have much room for dripping.
Dip the cheesecloth in the starch, submerging it until it's saturated. Wring it out and drape the cloth over the ghost. Press it into the foil to shape the head and arms. Squeeze the cloth to make a neck.
You don't have to wait for one piece of cheesecloth to dry before laying the next on top. With a few tries, the kids will be able to make folds in the cheesecloth to give each ghost personality and movement.
The kids will also love the squishy feel of the liquid starch.
Decorating the Ghosts
When you have made the ghosts, let them dry for two or three days in a draft-free area. Carefully pull the bottles from the forms. The cheesecloth will be sufficiently stiff to stand on its own.
Cut black felt for eyes and mouths for the ghosts. If you prefer, use jiggly eyes, bought from a craft store.
You can also use markers to decorate the ghosts. Glow-in-the-dark paint is a great idea for decorating them - turn off the lights and let the ghosts glow!
Ghosts Around the House
Tie yarn or string around the ghosts' necks or sew it to the heads. Let the specters fly from chandeliers, stairwells or and enclosed front porch.
Use the gauzy ghosts as centerpieces, or lodge one in the middle of the trick-or-treat candy basket. Tuck them into bookcases and peeking out from behind lamps - you'll almost hear them say, "BOO!"