Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Steampunk skull - part 1

Here's the situation: I just ordered a plastic human skull from ebay, and let's just say that I could be more satisfied with its looks. Its jaw is slightly too wide, it has a little underbite, its teeth were filed down too short and some of the detail has been lost.

However, for 17$ bucks, I can't expect much better.

Before I gather some cash to get myself a quality replica (which can be between 100$ and 300$), I plan to experiment a bit with this 17$ skull and see if I can make him look like a thousand bucks.

The process will be like this: I'll stain the skull, hinge its jaw with brass hardware, and fashion a brass and wood stand to support it.

This should be enough to give it some much needed flair and a slightly steampunk aura.

So let's start out with the staining, will-we?

This process is really simple; it's just a matter of having the right materials.

read it again. The RIGHT materials.

I didn't read it enough, personnally, since I disregarded all the info I found on the subject of staining plastic bones and bought the first kind of walnut stain I found instead of trying to get gel stain.

So here's the materials you need:

- A plastic skull
- A rag
- GEL wood stain. (A dark walnut or antique oak looks great)

There you go. Now the process is quite simple. With your rag, apply a liberal coat of stain all over the skull. Be sure to get it in every nooks and crannies.

It's hard to see, but I realized why I should have used gel stain about at the time I took this picture.

The stain I'm using lacks opacity, and is RUNNY AS HELL. Also, it's oil based, so it's not easy to clean up. But I digress. back to topic.

Once your skull is covered, let the stain sit a few minutes, and simply wipe off the excess with a slightly damp rag.

Here's the results. I'm not 100% satisfied; It's not as smooth as I wanted and I was expecting slightly less reddish results. However, all is not lost; I'll try giving it a white wash to smoothen the color a bit, and will go over with a nice golden oak stain to bring out the yellowish tinge of the skull. This combination of colors will probably do the trick.

Stay tuned for the next part!

UPDATE: Link to part 2


  1. Did you try sanding the skull before staining it? It might help if you did. It might also give the skull a better texture overall.

  2. Problem's fixed!

    I still don't have any pictures, but while the stain was still tacky, I rolled it in ashes. It now has a duller color, a dusty appearance and it's nice & smooth to the touch. It has the looks and texture of a partial skull dating from the 18th century that belongs to an arts history teacher I had.

    thanks for the suggestion, though!