STOLLOWEEN How To: Tortured Pumpkins

How To: Tortured Pumpkins


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The rational behind this project was to make a collection of  13 themed pumpkins, the goal was to make a cohesive collection and experiment with some different ideas that had been bouncing around inside my head.


The results are Tortured Pumpkins, pumpkins that have been on the receiving end of some unspeakable acts of brutality.


The pumpkins were made from inflated balloons that had been covered with several layers of papier mache (newspaper strips).


Recycled cardboard was used to build up the facial features such as the nose and mouth; the pieces were then accessorized using various methods which will be described in this tutorial.




The first step involved covering inflated balloons with several layers newspaper dipped in papier mache paste.

Allow the balloon to almost dry, you will want the papier mache to still be somewhat soft or about 75 percent dry.


Pop the balloon inside with a pair of scissors or screwdriver then indent the top and bottom of the balloon by applying even pressure with your fingers or palm.


Because the mache is still wet the paper will create a nice indentation without cracking or breaking. If the papier mache has completely dried I would suggest moistening the top and bottom with a spray bottle filled with water.


Next apply several more layers of mache to the indented balloon and allow to dry 100 percent, this is base structure for the pumpkin.


The next step is where you get to be creative, designing the face for the pumpkin. My approach was to cut out the eyes and use recycled cardboard to build up the nose and the mouth because I wanted protruding features that could accept some of the torture accessories.


Here are some photos of the ways the faces were built up, aluminum foil was used to create the eye sockets which were then covered with papier mache. Note the strips of cardboard used to extend the eyes forward. These pumpkins are a combination of thetrash bag method and techniques used to make Gourdon Rotsworth. When working on this step be creative and have fun, there are really no right ways or wrong ways when designing the pumpkin face.


Once the facial features are in place then everything gets several layers of papier mache strips and papier mache clay to add texture, dimension and depth. Again, these techniques are the same as those in my other pumpkin making tutorials.


To create “Tortured Pumpkins” a lot of different materials and techniques were incorporated to make the torture implements.


Nails, Bolts and Staples:


In many cases real hardware was used to make these pumpkins, a variety of different sized nails, bolts and fence staples were inserted into the papier mache clay while still wet.




Stitches were created using small strips of craft foam glued into an “X” pattern then inserted into the wet clay.




Two different methods were used to make chain.


In the first method papier mache clay was extruded with a cookie press, cut into uniform lengths then formed into links and allowed to dry. The dry links were then assembled onto the pumpkin surface.


The second method is far easier. Pipe cleaners were used to make the chain by wrapping the pipe cleaner around an appropriate sized dowel rod forming a circle. The pipe cleaner is cut then looped through the link and wrapped around the dowel again and so forth. Once the desired length of chain was made it was dipped in latex paint  to give it a rusted looking surface. This technique was inspired by a tutorial on HauntProject.




The eyes were created by forming “eyeballs” in the bottom half of a plastic Easter egg, a pupil was inserted into the eyeball using a black marble.


Screw and Bolt Tops:


In addition to using real hardware many of the rivets, screws and bolt tops were made from papier mache clay.




Several of the pumpkins feature shackles around the pumpkin stem. The shackles were made by adding strip mache to cardboard strips that have been formed into loops. The rivets and screws adorning the shackles were made from papier mache clay as mentioned above.


Barbed Wire:


The barbed wire was made from yarn and strips of craft foam. The complete barbed wire tutorial is available here.


Toe Tags:


As an added touch I put toe tags or stem tags on each pumpkin listing the pumpkin’s name, date of birth, date of death and my signature. A nice touch if you are selling or giving the pumpkin as a gift.


The Tortured Pumpkin theme was fun to work on and a really cool thing is that many of these techniques can be applied to real pumpkins. The ideas represented here just scratch the surface of what’s possible with this concept. Other ideas include: saw blades, hatchets, daggers, vices, razor blades, rope, spikes… can see the possibilities.