HELLO FALL! How to Make Paper Mache Pumpkins

HOW TO MAKE PAPER MACHE PUMPKINS

Welcoming Fall is always fun, because I can start making more paper mache pumpkins! If you know me, you know that I have made many paper mache pumpkins, a paper mache mummy, and a paper mache fireplace. I had a thought that I wanted to try, and I decided to go “smaller” this time around with some cute paper mache pumpkins.

Here’s how I made them!

I started off with blowing up two balloons nice and small. I did try tying a string around one of the balloons, but it did not make a difference, so I did not use it on the second one.

PUMPKIN SMALL1

Next, I mixed up some flour and water and made a paper mache paste. That is all I use when making my pumpkins, and you want the paste to be like a pancake batter, not too thick, not too runny. (use a wire whisk when mixing up your paste)

Now comes the fun part! Make sure you have lots of little strips of newspaper cut up, dip each piece in the paper mache paste, and run the strip through two fingers to remove the excess. Then place piece by piece on your balloon. Run your fingers over each piece so that they are laying flat on the balloon. Keep going until the entire balloon is covered really well. Let your paste dry. I normally get out my small heater and place it next to my object to get it to dry faster. Once it is good and dry, you need to add another layer of paper mache newspaper strips all around the balloon. Let that layer dry, and keep doing this step over and over until you have a pumpkin that is so hard that you cannot push in any part of it. THIS PART IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

PUMPKIN SMALL2

Once your pumpkin is formed and nice and hard, you are now ready to draw a face on your pumpkin. You can use a pencil to draw your face on, or a Sharpie Marker.

PUMPKIN1

Once you get the face drawn the way you want it, you carefully take your sharp knife out and cut out the face. Go slow in this process so you do not slip and cut yourself!

PUMPKIN2Since I am making really small pumpkins here, the openings on the face are too small for me to insert a battery operated tealight in it, so I cut a round opening in the back of the pumpkin for this purpose.

PUMPKIN5

Wait, I am not yet done yet at this point. Since the face and the hole in the back are now cut out, I want to make nice smooth edges around what I just cut out, so I placed a few more pieces of the newspaper strips dipped in the paper mache mix around the face and the hole in the back. Let it dry.

PUMPKIN4

Now it is time for the paper mache pumpkin to be painted. What I do for all of my paper mache pumpkins, is to lightly and I mean lightly, spray paint the pumpkins with flat black paint. I do not cover the entire pumpkin all in black, but rather get it slightly covered as a base coat.  Once the flat black has dried, I am ready for the orange top coat.

PAINTING BASE COAT

Just like the base black coat, I lightly spray paint my orange top coat over the pumpkin so that some of the black shows through. I think this make the pumpkin look so much better.

I decided that my pumpkins needed something. I felt that they needed to be on display, and what better way to display them than with a cute base! I used a $1 glass candle stick base that I found at the Dollar Store, and spray painted it with a Hammered Black paint. I went over the candle stick two times just to make sure that it was evenly coated. The last thing that I did was to spray paint a clear coat over the pumpkins to keep the paint sealed.

PAINTING THE BASE

BASE

The last thing that I did was to glue the pumpkin onto the candle stick base, and I now have an adorable pumpkin decoration! One thing to note when lighting up any paper mache pumpkins, is to never ever use a real candle in your pumpkins, as they could definitely catch on fire! Always use a battery operated tealight in them for safety!

PAINTING PUMPKINS ORANGE

My finished paper mache pumpkins are approximately 6″ and will definitely add some flare to my Halloween decorations around the house! Now that I see how cute these turned out, I have already started on a few more because I know that they will look great in every room of the house! Now, back to the Dollar Store for more glass candle sticks!

Paper Mache Pumpkin No. 5

I can’t help myself.  These pumpkins are addicting to make.  I am on Pumpkin No. 5 right now, and have No. 6 in the works.  Pumpkin No. 6 will be a much smaller pumpkin that I am going to pose in the hand on Skully in the front yard as he is holding up my handmade pallet coffin.

HOW TO PAPER MACHE A PUMPKIN

PAPER MACHING PUMPKIN NO 5

Pumpkin No. 5 is by far my thickest pumpkin ever!  I used my Evolv Jigsaw and a drill to carve out the face.  You start with the drill to make an entry point for the saw blade, then slow the speed down on your jigsaw a bit and carefully follow the face drawn on the pumpkin.  

CUTTING FACE OUT WITH JIGSAW

I drew a few mouths and eyes by hand on the pumpkin before I found one that I liked.  I know, they all could have been ok, but since I am perfecting my pumpkins as I work with the paper mache, I am going for perfection.  After I got the face that I wanted, it was time to get to work and cutout the face.

PAPER MACHE PUMPKIN NO 5 CLOSEUP

I cut one of my pumpkins with an Xacto Knife, but that took me close to an hour to cutout the face, so I changed to the Evolv Jigsaw to make this part of the process much quicker.  You have to be extremely careful when using any saw, but you work slowly and keep all of your fingers out of the way of the blade, and you will be ok.

REMOVING STUFFING

I have learned a lot from making all of these paper mache pumpkins, and one thing that I have learned is that you MUST stuff the plastic bag really full of crumpled newspaper so that the pumpkin holds its shape.  This photo shows how much “stuffing” came out of this pumpkin.  When you remove the stuffing (aka, crumpled newspaper) from the pumpkin, you keep it for your next pumpkin.  Why reinvent the wheel and crumple more paper, when you already have a bag full of stuffing!

PAPER MACHE PUMPKIN NO 5 GLOWING

Since these pumpkins are not sealed for outside weather conditions, we are currently only placing them in our front windows at night so everyone can see them.  If we left them outside, they probably would be damaged due to water or the dew that sets in overnight.  I might try some of that Flex Seal product on one pumpkin before I paint it, to see if that product will work with sealing the paper mache and holding its shape.  Anyhow, with the amount of pumpkins I have now, I wanted to place them in the windows, but had no table to place them on.  Had to fix this problem…

With all of my craft projects, I use what we have around the house.  I save a lot of odd things, just in case I need them, one being the nice hard cardboard kitty food boxes.  These came in handy for making a table.  I just took three empty kitty food boxes and two old UPS shipping boxes and taped them together.  Then I mixed up a batch of paper mache (flour & water) and went to work!  The UPS boxes made the perfect top & bottom to my little table, as the kitty food boxes made the perfect column.

PUMPKIN ON STAND

So, what do you think of Pumpkin No. 5?  It still needs to be painted, but it looks great in the front window, even unfinished.  I also used one of our LED camping lights inside this pumpkin instead of the orange Halloween lights which makes it glow differently than the others.  Variety is the spice of life!

Halloween Snuck Into My Weekend

It does not surprise me, or probably you if you know me, that Halloween snuck into my weekend in a big way.  You all know that I have been busy working on all of my paper mache pumpkins and paper mache fireplace, and this weekend I kicked it up a notch and got the chance to get some painting done.

WORKING ON MY FIREPLACE

I got the final black coat of paint on the fireplace and let it sit out in the sun today to dry.  I missed the entire Brown’s home opener game, but that’s ok as I heard that they lost in a big way. (does not surprise me at all)   We went to Pat Catans craft store this weekend in the hopes of finding a diamond stencil to use on the front & sides of the fireplace, and we had no luck.  So instead, I found a Zig Zag stencil that I am going to use to stencil a white zig and a lot of zags across the fireplace.  I can’t wait to get started working on the stenciling part, so hold tight for a little bit to see the results!

PAINTING INSIDE JACK SKELETON

PAINTING JACK SKELETON

As for my Jack Skeleton paper mache pumpkin, I had to cutout a slit in the bottom of the pumpkin so I could get the camping light inside.  The hole I originally cut was only just big enough to pull out all the stuffing, but not big to insert the camping light, so I had to make a little tweak to getting the light in.  I spray painted the first coat of Rustoleum Marigold inside the pumpkin, as I have read that you should use a color that is bright so your light glows brighter.  I then lightly spray painted the outside of the pumpkin black so it covers the newspaper well.  I will then spray paint the pumpkin orange on top of the black to finish coloring the pumpkin.  After these colors dry, I will seal the pumpkin both inside and out with a clear sealant.

Our Jack Skeleton pumpkin almost caught on fire tonight too when I put the camping light inside of it.  I turned on the light and walked outside to take a photograph to see how the Marigold color looks and when I came back into the house to set my camera down, I turned around and smoke was coming out of his eyes!  I ran to Jack and saw that the camping light was smoking and got my Sweetie to pull the light out.  We switched batteries in the camping light from regular AA batteries to a Lithium battery and they must have been too much for the camping light as it got fried.  So now we need to head back up to the Dollar Store to purchase another one.  Thank God the pumpkin did not catch on fire with all the fresh spray paint on it!  When we get a new camping light, we are definitely only going to use regular AA batteries in it this time!

WOOD TOMBSTONES

Keeping up with the Halloween weekend, we sold a few of our wood tombstones that we have on eBay.  I just finished cutting out and sanding these two and another sale came in for one more.  WOW!  I guess everyone is thinking of Halloween, and it’s not only just us!  (and yes, I know how to use power tools too!)

FRONT PORCH FLOWER POT

PUMPKIN LIGHT ON PORCH

Our front porch has a little Fall coloring going on too, as our Marigolds are blooming in bright colors and I added our little glass pumpkin to the planter and lit a tealight in it tonight.  Right on the step of the porch sits my cement X & O and cement skull to add the perfect touch!

BAT ON OUR MAILBOX

And just when I thought the weekend was over and all the Halloween stuff was done, evening set in and provided yet another remarkable Halloween scene.  The sun was setting in beautiful colors that illuminated the black wood bat that proudly is perched on top of our mailbox post.  What a great weekend we had full of Halloween!  I wonder what next week will hold for us?!

How to Make Paper Mache Pumpkins & More!

JACK SKELETON PAPER MACHE PUMPKIN

Let’s get down to business… so you want to learn how to make a paper mache pumpkin?  You’ve come to the right place, so let’s get started.

PAPER MACHE PUMPKIN GRIN2

Here’s what you will need to create a paper mache pumpkin:

  • Newspaper & lots of it for the stuffing
  • Newspaper ripped into nice even strips
  • Plastic Bag (any size will do)
  • String
  • Metal Coat Hanger
  • Large Bowl
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Whisk
  • Xacto Knife or Jigsaw

That’s all you need to create anything in paper mache!  And you thought it was going to be hard to do.  I’ll be honest with you, it is not hard at all, but it does take time…. drying time, that is.

If you are sitting here reading this post and have even slightly considered trying to make some (or one) paper mache pumpkins for yourself for Halloween or even for your Fall decor, now is the time to do something about it!  Creating paper mache objects is fun and easy to do with your family and kids, but I am sure that they will get bored easily when it comes to the “drying time” in between all the layers you need to put on. I hope that I can inspire you to create your own pumpkins for Halloween, and if you do, please share with me what you have made!

Creating paper mache pumpkins is a lot of fun, especially when you start to see your pumpkin coming to life, and well, actually looking like a pumpkin.  I admit it, I start one pumpkin, and right after the first layer dries, I want so badly to paint it already, but know that I am not even close to being done yet, as it has many more layers of paper mache to go before it is completed.

So you have the list of things that you need (above) to start creating your first pumpkin, so let’s begin….

THE PLASTIC BAG

TIE STRING AROUND BAG TO FORM PUMPKIN

Start with any sized plastic bag you wish.  I have used those white tall kitchen bags, and even the large 33 gallon ones too, so it all depends on the what size of pumpkin you want to create.

Now, grab a stack of newspaper and crumble up the pages (but not too tight) and stuff them in the bag.  Stuff the bag as much, or as little as you want, but your “pumpkin form” should be somewhat firm or your pumpkin shape will flatten when you start applying the paper mache.  (you’ll understand this concept more clearer when it happens on one of your pumpkins!)

Once you have the bag filled with enough crumbled newspaper, you need to tie off the top of the bag.  You can use the handles on the bag or just twist it at the top, or you could use twine or masking tape too.

Now that your bag is filled and the top is tied, you need to create the stem for your pumpkin.  I have used a few methods for a stem, but you can be creative in this step. Take a metal clothes hanger and snip off the top part.  You will now be wrapping the metal clothes hanger around the top of your pumpkin to start your stem.  (you can even poke the clothes hanger into the section where you tied the bag)  Form the clothes hanger now into any “stem shape” you want.  I have done some nice curvy stems with a clothes hanger.  Just so you know the reason you are using a clothes hanger in this step, is because it will hold its shape when you start applying the paper mache to it.  (believe me, on my first pumpkin I did not use a clothes hanger in the stem and just rolled up some newspaper, dipped it in the paper mache, and thought it would keep its shape.  It did not)  Any questions on this part, just ask me.

Now, you have created your basic pumpkin form & the stem!

THE STRING

I bet you are wondering what the string was for, right?  Well, the string plays an important part in your pumpkin, as it creates the natural-looking pumpkin creases. You know what I’m talking about…those nice lines that run down the side of the pumpkin!

Start by tying your end of the string to your stem.  Pull the string down the side of your plastic bag (and pull kinda tight) and you will see a crease starting.  Now, wrap the string up and around the other side, come up to the top (wrap it around the stem, again) and go down another side and up again, until you have created all the creases you wish on your pumpkin.  Make as many as you want or just a few.

Now you have created your pumpkin creases!  Congratulations!  Are you excited yet?

GET READY TO PAPER MACHE

PAPER MACHE MIX

Now, it is time to start the paper maching process!  Grab that large bowl, your whisk, and your bag of flour and head on over to your sink.  Place your bowl in the sink, dump some flour into the bowl (you don’t have to measure the amount of flour you use) and add some water.  Start whisking immediately!  You want to add enough water (but slowly) to make a pancake-like thick (but not too thick) batter.  Believe me, you will get better at mixing your batter with all the layers you will be adding, so don’t worry at this point, just make sure that your batter is not too thick or too watery.

Grab that huge pile of ripped up strips of newspaper because you are ready to start paper maching your pumpkin.  Make sure your pumpkin is on a plastic tarp or something to cover your floor, as this part can be a bit messy.

FIRST LAYER OF PAPER MACHE

Take one newspaper strip and lay it flat into the paper mache batter and either run the strip between your two fingers to remove the excess paper mache, or you can do what I do and run the newspaper strip up the side of the bowl and rub off the excess batter this way.

Now, just place your first batter-dipped piece of newspaper on top of your pumpkin. You need to always start at the top of your pumpkin and work your way down.  Once you get one layer on the top half of your pumpkin, you need to let it dry or place it in front of a small heater like I do, to hurry along the drying process.  Then, you flip your pumpkin over and paper mache the bottom half, and let the bottom half dry.  Once the entire pumpkin has one layer on it, and it has dried thoroughly, you will need to add more layers.

IMPORTANT TIPS:  When adding your first layer of paper mache, make sure you use your finger tips to poke your newspaper strips nicely into the creases you made with the string.  This part is important as it adds character to your pumpkin.

Also, make sure you run your hand flat over each strips when applying them to squeeze out any excess paper mache batter.  Always keep running a flat hand over your strips as you work your way around the pumpkin.  Another good tip is to position your layers in different directions on your pumpkin, as this will add strength when it hardens.

I have had a lot of people ask me the question “How do I know if I have enough layers of paper mache on my pumpkin?”  Well, that is a good question and can be easily answered.  After each layer of paper mache has dried, gently push down on your pumpkin all around and if there is any “give” on the pumpkin….. it needs more layers. Your completed pumpkin should be very hard when you tap or knock on it.

CUTTING THE FACE

CUTTING PAPER MACHE PUMPKIN WITH A JIGSAW

When you have completed your paper mache pumpkin and feel that it is hard enough with no “give” on any part of it, it is time to cut out your face.

ADDED TEETH TO PUMPKIN

Look at your pumpkin.  Twist it around to see what side looks best to cut out a face on it.  Once you find the side you like, simply draw a face on the side of your pumpkin with a pencil.  Start off with a pencil so you can make changes if you don’t like what you drew, then go over your pencil marks with a Sharpie Marker when you are satisfied.

ADDING DEPTH TO EYES

I used to cut the faces out of my pumpkin with an Xacto Knife, but ever since I have increased the layers on my pumpkins to make them thicker, I found that an Xacto Knife was too hard to use.  So, I resorted to my trusty Jigsaw.  On my pumpkins, I just drill a hole large enough for my Jigsaw blade to fit in.  You could also use a Dremmil too if you have one to cut out the face.

Once your face is cut out, you will now need to REMOVE all of the newspaper stuffing & plastic bag from inside your pumpkin!  The reason you do not remove the stuffing before is because the stuffing is holding the shape of your pumpkin.  You will need to get your Xacto Knife or Jigsaw and cut a circle on the bottom of your pumpkin.  This is where you will pull all of the stuffing out from.  Remove all the newspaper (and keep the stuffing too, so you can use it on your next pumpkin) and carefully pull the plastic bag out too that is now stuck to the inside of your pumpkin.  The string is probably stuck to the inside sides as well, and you can remove that too, but be careful when pulling this out, as you do not want to damage your pumpkin.  Make sure that everything is cleaned out from the inside of your pumpkin at this point.

You will need to add more paper mache strips around the cutout face edges to finish off the edges nicely.  The hole at the bottom of your pumpkin will be used to place your battery operated light inside your pumpkin after you paint it.  I was going to use these small battery operated LED lights that I have, but realized that I wanted more light to make my pumpkins glow.  I found a round Camping Light at the Dollar Store for $5 which has different light settings and is brighter than the other LED’s, so this is what I will be using in my pumpkins.

CAMPING LIGHT

PAINTING THE PUMPKIN

Yeah, it’s finally time to paint your pumpkin!  Congratulations!  You have accomplished a lot, but have created a one-of-a-kind pumpkin that you will cherish forever!

Take your pumpkin outside for some good ventilation, and pick out the colors you want to spray paint it.  TIP:  I have learned from some experienced pumpkin creators, that you should spray paint the inside of your pumpkin yellow.  They use yellow inside their pumpkins so when lit, it makes them glow better, but you can use orange or whatever color you choose, as this is YOUR pumpkin.  I would spray paint the inside of the pumpkin first, let it dry.  Then place some newspaper inside the pumpkin to cover up the face holes when spray painting the outside, as you do not want any over spray to get inside.

Once the spray paint has completed dried, spray a clear coat over the entire pumpkin, both inside and out.

You are now officially ready for Halloween!

These are the pumpkins that I am currently working on, in various stages (and I am starting on a new one today too).

MY PAPER MACHE FIREPLACE

Just starting to paint the fireplace.

BeFunky_FIREPLACE GETTING PAINTED

This is a photograph that I found on how the finished fireplace will look.  I will spray paint the entire fireplace black, then I will hand stencil the white diamonds all over the front and sides/back of the fireplace.  (by painting it these colors, I can also use this fireplace for Christmas time too!)

BeFunky_THE FINISHED LOOK

MY PAPER MACHE PUMPKINS

PAPER MACHE PUMPKINS

As you can see from above, my huge Jack Skeleton pumpkin has the camping light inside of it.  Isn’t it bright?

Stay tuned, as I work on finishing all of my pumpkins, the fireplace, and the paper mache witch that I am currently working on.  You will be amazed at the end results!