I had a few requests to post how I made my Giant Pumpkins. (A tad late, but better late than never, right?)
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*this one is about 4 feet in diameter, but I've made them as large as 6 feet with this method
I've tried almost every method to make large pumpkins, paper mache (takes forever and doesn't hold up well), foam carving (messy as hell, can get expensive and Styrofoam is an environmental nightmare), etc. etc. I came up with this method that has a couple of advantages. First, it is super fast. No dry time, no carving. Second, it's super easy. Kids have a blast with this one. (with supervision with the heat gun of course). You can bust out half a dozen in an afternoon. (More if you have help) And lastly, it is really, REALLY cheap. And a great way to use stuff from your recycle bin or plastic that otherwise would be going to the landfill. Happy Haunter, Happy Planet!
You will need:
- Trash bag (clear or white if you are making a lantern-style jack and want the light to glow through, black if not)
- Newspaper, paper bags, or other stuffing form your recycle bin (those bubble packs from shipping work well as do junk mailers)
- wire or string (stiff wire, as thick as a coat hanger (about 16 guage) or more if you want to take the stuffing out or you want to go bigger than 4 feet) If you aren't going to take the stuffing out you can use any string or wire.
- glue gun or other quick dry glue
- tin foil or more crumpled paper (if you want to do a face)
- Heat gun
- Plastic drop cloth or other large piece of plastic (thicker is better) (great way to use up old drop cloths from other painting projects or reuse large pieces of shipping plastic. Stores that sell appliances or other large items will give you a bunch for free if you ask. Or ask your neighbors to save their plastic for you if you want to make a bunch of pumpkins)
- Orange table cloth from dollar store (optional, just saves on paint and painting time)
- Paint (Spray paint is easy but acrylics work as well)
- thin brown paint or wood stain (optional for creepier look)
-Start by stuffing your trash bag with whatever stuffing you have on hand to get the pumpkin the size you want it. You'll need quite a lot for large pumpkins. Those plastic bubble packs work great because they take up a lot of space.
-Next wrap your wire or string around the pumpkin to make the "ridges" and squish it into the rough shape you want. If you want a smooth pumpkin for projecting the AtmosFX pumpkins or something similar, make sure your filling at this stage is smooth.
- Use a sharpie to mark up the rough face (eyes, mouth, etc...doesn't have to look good, it's just a guide) I was going for creepy, but you could do a traditional jack-o-lantern face or goofy grin. If you are doing pumpkins instead of jack-o-lanterns, skip this and the next step.
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* and yes, my screened porch is super messy. Dont' judge.
-Use foil or crumpled paper to outline the ridges of your face. Glue in place with a glue gun or other fast drying glue. Make sure it is secure before the next step.
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- Wrap the whole pumpkin in your piece of drop cloth or large plastic. Twist with wire to secure the top. Excess can be twisted with more wire to make a funky stem. (If you want a smooth pumpkin, be careful with your plastic folds or use the folds to enhance the ridges.)
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-Using your heat gun, melt the plastic into shape. This step goes really fast. Start at the back to see how much heat you need so you don't burn holes where you don't want them. If you are going to light it from the inside, you can melt the plastic more over the eyes and mouth to get holes and a creepy decaying corpse flesh look.
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- Optional step- repeat the same thing with a dollar store orange plastic tablecloth. I wanted my pumpkins to glow like lanterns and I was running low on orange spray paint. It didn't make a huge difference with the glow, but it did save a ton of time on painting.
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- Paint with your choice of paints. I used a couple shades of orange and yellow-ish spray paint and khaki for the stem. Then painted the eyes and mouth in black. I did a wash of wood stain later to get a creepier look.
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I made a bunch of these to use as scarecrow heads and lit them inside with battery-powered LED's and then lit from below with a solar flood light. (They looked pretty cool in the dark. Sorry the pics are so crappy.)
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Note: These aren't going to look like professional camera ready props like some of the excellent foam carvings, etc. but they look pretty cool in the dark.
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This method can be used to make pumkins or jack-o-lanterns of any shape or size. They can be lit inside and glow like lanterns. They are also super light weight. A good option if you want to hang them from the trees or ceiling (made some for a friend's Harry Pottter party to hang with the candles in the "Great Hall") We also floated some on the lake by gluing them to a pool noodle circle. (looked pretty cool) They hold up well in inclement weather and store well from year to year. You can even take out the stuffing and fold them flat if you are short on storage space. (storage is critically low at my house) This method might also work for other large round props like giant cauldrons, death stars and a few other things I've noticed people attempting for Halloween.