Halloween 2023: October 1ˢᵗ – The Year Of The Skull

I’m really into skulls this Halloween season. No idea why, but I find myself cuckoo for craniums. So I’m declaring this The Year Of The Skull! Come on in and see what other fleshless horrors await!


Okay, so it’s only gonna be one horror for today. And it contains leather, so it’s not precisely fleshless. But there’s plenty of skulls, damn it. Stop badgering me!

Loyal readers may recall a previous craft I made for Deadlands: my silver chip. If not, quick recap: Deadlands is a wild west horror RPG that uses a poker deck and poker chips along with the polyhedral dice common to most role-playing games. Some clever players have invented house rules that call for specialized chips which have special effects when drawn from the pot. One of those is the silver chip, which I crafted for use in our game.

When you draw chips in Deadlands, you pull them blindly out of a bag so that every draw is randomized. Not one to leave well enough alone, I also decided to create a special bag for our chips. And this being a horror RPG, there would be skulls.

First thing was finding an appropriate bag. This is a cowboy game, so it needed to be leather. And it had to be large enough and deep enough for an adult man’s hand to reach inside and draw a poker chip without the possibility of the chips being seen. This looked appropriate, but I failed to take into account that Deadlands uses a set number of chips in the pot, and that number rarely increases.

The older I get the more I appreciate that a few very good looking props and accessories can add a lot to a gaming table. This is a good looking bag, and it is very well made, but it is unnecessarily large. When it is on the table, it takes up a lot of real estate. A flat-bottomed bag that stands up would take up less room and would also be a nice visual centerpiece for our game table. But that’s a project for Future Chris. This is the bag I have now, so this is what we’re working with.

Part and parcel of the Deadlands aesthetic is the longhorn skull in the logo. It has been present in every form of the game so far, and it tells the player exactly what to expect. So I knew I wanted to ditch the leather cord in the bag in favor of a longhorn skull bolo tie, which are not difficult to find. I bought a bolo with a darkened, aged look to it, and it was okay. But then I saw this:

That is PERFECT. Well, almost. The clasp itself is exactly what I was looking for but the tips are too shiny. I want something more weathered. Fortunately I had the braided cord with the darker tips from the first bolo. I made a quick swap and was very pleased with the results. But as cool as this looks, at the end of the day this is just a bull skull. I need some human heads to decorate this thing.

BAM! I don’t remember where these came from, but they are perfect.

I mean, that’s exactly the right size. Or so I thought. My plan was to thread these onto the bolo cord, but it turns out the cord won’t fit through the holes in the beads. But that would actually turn out to make the final project even better looking.

I debated which color to go with, but Deadlands is first and foremost a western. I went with the turquoise to drive home the southwestern theme. I also prefer the way the cracks are more visible in these as opposed to the bone colored skulls. I feel they just fit better with the ancient sunbaked desert feel of Deadlands, where the environment itself can sometimes be as alive and evil as the monsters. Also, I wanted this to look like something made by a southwestern tribe that a white cowboy would have traded for or possible have been given by a shaman or medicine man. The social dynamics between Indians and whites in Deadlands are a big part of the story, and I wanted this bag to visually reflect that.

And here we have it! I am VERY happy with how this turned out. It could use a little tweaking, but for my first time working with beads or leather, I’m quite pleased.

The bolo cord was too big to go through the beads, but a single strand of thread would not make a big enough knot to secure them. I looked up images of southwestern Indian textiles and I found a sample of cloth that was primarily white, black, brown, and green. I cannot remember the tribe that created it, but it was quite distinctive and very different from what I think of as stereotypical southwestern souvenir shop fabrics. I went through all the thread I had and tried different color combinations, but my mind kept coming back to that cloth. Since there was already enough brown in this bag from the leather, I stuck with white, black, and green. I love the combination, and if I ever have to rebuild this for some reason, I’ll probably stick with that color palette.

I love the way this looks against that leather. i spent more than I wanted to on this bolo, but once I got it on the bag I have never regretted it. It looks even better than I imagined it would.

Come back tomorrow for more Halloween goodness!


Hey, thanks for reading! Here are a couple of Office videos to help kick off your October. You’re welcome!

Halloween at Dunder Mifflin 🎃

Dwight The Vampire Slayer - The Office US

Dwight The Vampire Slayer

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