Paper Mache Pumpkins

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paper mache pumpkin

Today I am going to share a fun craft tutorial for making decorative pumpkins out of paper mache! I think the last time I did any paper mache was in elementary school, so I had a lot of fun getting my hands messy with this project and taking a little trip down memory lane. Plus these cute little pumpkins are made entirely of recycled material, so you can feel good about them too. Eat your heart out HomeGoods!

Here’s what you will need to make some of your own:

– plastic grocery bags
– newspaper
– masking tape
– flour
– paint

paper mache pumpkin forms
To make the underlying form, fill a small plastic grocery bag with crumpled up pieces of paper (old magazines or newspaper). When it reaches a size you are happy with, twist the top of the bag and wrap with a piece of masking tape. I used the tied-off end of the bag to form the stem of my pumpkins. Fluff the bag into a round shape, and then use the masking tape to create some grooves to form the lobes of your pumpkin. I wanted mine to be chunky and cartoonish, but for a more realistic looking fruit, make thinner divisions.

To mix up the paper mache paste, mix flour and water until you have a consistency like pancake batter. I didn’t measure, but used roughly a 2:1 mixture of water to flour. Then add a few teaspoons of salt (this prevents any risk of mold). Now lay out some plastic or a drop cloth over your work area, because the next part is going to get messy!

paper mache how-to
Rip up some newspaper into strips and small chunks to use for the paper mache. Start with the top half of your pumpkin, saturating strips of paper with paste and laying them over the form to cover the entire top surface. Once you have one solid layer, let it dry a bit and then keep going! For a sturdy pumpkin, you’ll want 3 or 4 layers of paper. Let the top half dry completely. This will probably take overnight if you are working indoors.

Once the top is completely dry, flip the pumpkin over and rest in a cup or bowl so that you can work without crushing the stem. Cover the bottom of your pumpkin in paper mache, in the same manner as you did the top, and let dry again. (This project will take a couple days to finish!) Once your pumpkin is fully dried, use a utility blade to carefully cut a circle from the bottom, and gently pull out all the paper and plastic inside.

At this point it is ready to paint! It’s a good idea to give the whole thing a coat of white paint as a primer, unless you are painting your pumpkins a dark color. I painted mine a predictable orange this time, but I think next year I will make some black ones!
three paper mache pumpkins
If you want to make this project a little more exciting, you can accessorize your pumpkin with anything you like! You could also bring back that utility knife and cut out a face or design, then place a flameless candle inside. I plan to use mine in my Halloween mantel display.
paper mache pumpkin mantel display

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