Ask Holly: Shrunken Heads Craft


There is something about Shrunken Heads that are so gross and morbid, yet so fun and old fashioned. Much like Laura Olsher’s creepy narration in Disney’s classic Chilling Thrilling Sound of the Haunted HouseBoth are essential parts of my childhood. My mother always had fun crafts to do and this album would blare from our garage on Halloween night playing on my old crappy red, white and blue record player from Sears.

Make this Shrunken Heads Craft now to hang up for Halloween and let your kids watch the progress as they shrink and wrinkle up. You can always speed up the process by using your oven, if you’re short on time. The pin heads for eyeballs and dried pasta make then even more gruesome.

shrunken headsShrunken Heads Craft

  • Granny Smith or another type of firm apple
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pins with with tops
  • Dry spaghetti pasta or rice noodles
  • A black Sharpie
  • Whole cloves
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Paring knives
  • chopsticks
  • A butter or grapefruit knife


heads4Step One:
Peel the apples with a knife or vegetable peeler. Carve out a face. Start by hallowing out the eyes and then make a nose by making deep indentations on either side. The mouth can be carved out in any style. I gave my six year old a chop stick to carve the eyes and mouth, then he made “wounds” all over the apple by poking it full of holes

TIP: For small children who might get frustrated thinking their head looks bad, assure them that head will look totally different when it dries. Also the crazier the carving, the better the results. My son was thrilled with his head once it dried (top right on the bottom picture).


shrunken heads

Step Two:
Fill a large bowl with cold water and add 1-2 teaspoons of salt and squeeze two wedges of lemon into the water. Mix and place carved apples into bowl. Let the apples soak for about 20 minutes.

Step Three:
Remove the apples from the water and either hang them by tying a string to their stem or poke a chop stick through the bottom. Put them in a dry place for 1-2 weeks. After a few days my kids grew inpatient so I put the apples in the oven at 200° with the door left open a bit for a couple of hours.

shrunken heads craft

Step Four:
Eyes: For the eyes our creepiest results came from straight pins with white tops and a iris drawn on with a sharpie. We also tried whole cloves and dried white beans with an iris drawn on with a marker.You could also use black peppercorns, small nails, whole allspice, and marshmallows bits rolled into balls with a clove pushed through make creepy eyes.

Teeth: We used dry rice, and broken bits of pasta. Use what you have.

Hair and boils: Popcorn kernels make lovely boils and and corn silk from dried Indian corn or moss make nasty looking bits of hair. Try hair from a hair brush as well.

Hang them by their stems from a  branch or leave the chopstick in the head and put it in a pot filled with dirt and moss. Gross and creepy!

Halloween questions? Just Ask Holly in comments.

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  1. Thanks Kristen.

    I think this was GG’s least fav.

    The project is cool because the little kids can make one and sometimes their heads come out better than the head carved by old kids.

    My son’s head is named Frankieponzi so clearly with a name like that he deserved to have his head shrunk.

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