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Floating Ghosts

Photography: Jose Manuel Picayo Rivera

Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2001


  • Empty jars

  • White tissue paper

  • Clothespins and clothesline

  • Manicure or sewing scissors

  • Pencil

  • Needle

  • Thirty-gauge wire

  • Protective gloves

  • Large balloon


  1. Tear sheets of white tissue paper in half lengthwise and paste them -- also lengthwise -- onto a large balloon resting on an empty jar. (This prevents the tissue from discoloring the work surface or sticking to it.) Dab wheat paste on a small section at the crown of the balloon, and drape a strip of tissue paper vertically from the balloon's crown to its knot. Using a paintbrush, apply paste over the strip. Add another strip so that it slightly overlaps the first, and brush on more paste. Continue around the balloon, and stop pasting at the widest part of the balloon.

  2. Using clothespins, hang balloon from the clothesline by their knot; let it dry. When dry, pop  balloon with a snip of a scissors as you hold the knot. Remove the balloon through the hole around the knot. 

  3. When the tissue dries, the balloons are popped and the results "carved." Begin by penciling in any guidelines. Next, use a utility knife to start cutting out the features and then switch to small manicure or sewing scissors, which work well within the tight curves of the rounded forms. On the inside, cover the eyes, nose, and mouth holes with a single layer of tissue paper (apply wheat paste to the edges of the tissue before positioning it).

  4. To display, cut a small circle in the top; poke a hole on either side of it with a needle. Thread a 30-gauge wire through holes. Twist the wire together halfway; push one end inside to hold a battery-powered light, which can be inserted from the hole at the base. Use the other end to hang the ghost.

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