STOLLOWEEN How To: Pumpkins

How To: Pumpkins


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The Pumpkins are created from plastic trash bags, newspaper, cardboard and two different papier mache techniques. The Pumpkin was originally designed as an entry into a prop building contest then evolved into the subject of several papier mache workshops and finally has become a very popular DIY Halloween project among enthusiasts.




Fill a plastic trash bag with crumpled newspaper until it is the desired size and shape for your pumpkin.

Wrap twine or heavy cord around the newspaper filled bag to form ridges. Apply masking tape over the twine to further define the ridges.

Apply three or more layers of papier mache strips over the entire pumpkin.

Use homemade papier mache clay to further define the ridges on the top of the pumpkin. A stem was added by inserting a small tube of rolled up newspaper. Empty paper towel or toilet paper tubes can also be used for the stem. Apply papier mache clay to the stem and sculpt in the texture. Allow to dry.

9/17/10 EDIT – I no longer take the stuffing out of the pumpkin at this point, I keep the pumpkin stuffed until all the steps are complete and remove the fill just before the painting process. Keeping the pumpkin stuffed prevents collapse and distortion while adding the papier clay.

Cut a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin using a sharp knife or blade.

Carefully remove the crumpled newspaper and plastic bag.

Draw the face pattern onto the pumpkin and cut out the eyes, nose and mouth with a sharp knife or blade.

Reinforce the eye, nose and mouth cut-out by gluing thin strips of cardboard to the inside edges of the cut out sections. Additional details such as eyeballs and teeth can be created from corrugated cardboard and glued into place.

Use papier mache clay to add definition and details around the eyes nose and mouth.

Extra: The Pumpkin With The Snake

One of the jack o’ lanterns features a large green snake coiled around the pumpkin. The snake was created by wrapping and taping newspaper around a piece of 14 gauge galvanized utility wire. Newspaper was added until the snake became the desired thickness. The head was created in the same manner as the heads for The Dragons. The snake armature was then secured to the pumpkin and a combination of papier mache strips and papier mache clay was used to sculpt the final design. The scale pattern was achieved by pressing an empty pen cap into the wet clay then distorting the pattern with my fingers.

Extra: The Pumpkin With The Hands.

Arms and hands were created by assembling rolled tubes of newspaper. The technique is identical to the process used to create The Skeleton and The Pumpkinbeast.

Extra: The Pumpkin With Spider Webs In The Eyes.

The spider webs were created by dipping yarn in papier mache paste.

Extra: PumpkinSkulls

Created several pumpkins that featured a protruding skull face versus being carved. The technique involved adding a face template to the papier mache pumpkin form. A seperate jaw and teeth made from corrugate cardboard were also added. The stem on the pumpkin skulls was made very thick.

Extra: The Vines.

Vines were made using simple papier mache techniques. Leaf shapes were first cut from cardboard then attached to pieces of wire. The wire was wrapped around a pencil to duplicate the curly nature of real pumpkin vines. The veins in the pumpkin leaves were created from hot glue. The entire piece was then coated in with crepe paper dipped in papier mache paste. The crepe paper was thin enough to allow the veins in the leaf to show and easy enough to wrap around the wire. The leaves and vines were then painted black and dry brushed to achieve the finished look.

Extra: Painting The Pumpkins

Several different techniques were used to paint the pumpkins.

Dry Brushing. The exterior of the pumpkins were painted with flat black exterior latex paint. White latex primer was then dry brushed onto the surface accentuating the texture. Diluted acrylics (orange, yellow and green) were then used as a wash to tint the pumpkin to the final coloring. The interior of the pumpkins were painted with yellow spray paint.

Air Brushing. The first pumpkin I created was painted with an airbrush. The entire pumpkin was painted with white primer then diluted acrylics were air brushed onto the pumpkin. Brown was used for the shadows or recessed areas, yellow was used for the highlights and orange was finally applied to blend the shadows and highlights. The interior of the pumpkin was painted with yellow.