Friday, November 4, 2011

How to make a Giant Pumpkin

 Several years ago, I found a tutorial on how to make giant-sized jack-o-lanterns on a website called, Stolloween. Since I was enchanted with the huge pumpkins outside of Hagrid's cottage on Harry Potter, I knew that I had to try my hand at making my own jumbo pumpkin at some point. This October, I spotted a large fake pumpkin at Hobby Lobby for about $140.00 and was so shocked at the steep price that I went straight home and started figuring my own out. In the end, my pumpkin did not end up being as big as I wanted (which is probably a good thing since I really don't know how I am going to store it) but I still got a kick out of making something this large. Whether you are wanting to make a lasting decoration or a seasonal photo prop, hopefully this tutorial helps!

This is how I made it:
 I got the largest trash bag I could find and stuffed it full with newspaper, plastic bags and pages from magazines.

Then I knotted it up:

Next I used masking tape around the sides to create the ridges:

Once the general shape I wanted was formed, I used my paper mache paste recipe and added several layers of newspaper strips over the form. After I had as many layers as I wanted, I let it dry in the sun with a heavy can set in the center to help it keep its pumpkin form:
 (And I might add, what a fitting can to use for this project)

After it dried, I decided the ridges on my pumpkin were not as big as I wanted, so I crumpled up more newspaper and magazine pages, covered them with paste, and added them to the pumpkin:

After each crumpled up pasty piece was added, I glued it down with a strip of pasty newspaper so that it would hold in place. I did this until the entire pumpkin looked the way I liked.

Once all of my additions had dried, I mixed up paper clay and applied it in a thick layer over the top 3/4ths of the form:

Once it was hard/dry enough (several days later), I tipped it upside down on an empty bucket (so the stem wouldn't break) and cut a hole at the bottom...

...and took out all of the newspaper stuffing. This way it would be lighter and also would be able to dry at a faster rate:

Since all of the paper clay was so heavy, it sort of flattened the bottom of my pumpkin. To fix this, I cris-crossed the opening with more tape (so that my additions wouldn't fall inside) and added more crumpled pieces of newspaper and put more paper mache over them. After that, I added more paper clay to the bottom half of the pumpkin:

 Once that all dried fully, I sanded down my pumpkin and then painted it orange. I decided to use a sample-sized can of Gliddens Pumpkin Patch Orange from The Home Depot (since it is so inexpensive).  I finished by  using brown and green craft paint for the stem:

After my paint dried, I covered it with a marine/indoor/outdoor varnish like Jackie Hall suggested on The Paper Mache Recourse so that it would be able to withstand the elements on my front porch.

Now that it is starting to frost outside, many of our pumpkins have already turned to mush. However, our great big paper mache pumpkin is holding it's own and keeping our front porch festive despite the November chill! It was well worth the adventure.


Miss Char said...

Thanks for the great tutorial, I know what you mean about the $$$ for faux pumpkins at HL. I did score on one the other day at 90% off but I think I've got to make a giant one using your method. Thanks for sharing.

Bonnie said...

So cool! And it seriously looks really good.

Maggie said...

Would luv for our readers to see this at

Thanks for joining the party,

Marilyn said...

This is so awesome and festive for the season..So lovely..I found ya via Vintage Gwen today and had to stop in and say hello..Officially following ya..Super creative blog you have here..:)) I'm Marilyn, hope u can stop in sometime and link this via my thanksgiving linky party here TY :))

Terry said...

I think your giant pumpkin is fantastic. I thought it was funny to see the words Fun Stuff inside when you cut a hole in the bottom. Great job...but so much work.

Noreen said...

Thanks for the great tutorial. Every home needs a giant pumpkin!

Debbie said...

Love your idea and ingenuity.

Marie said...

Great job and tutorial! So glad you linked up with us! Hope you're having a great weekend!


Meg@MegaCrafty said...

This is AWESOME! I'd love to link to this on my Halloween blog. Let me know if that's ok with you.

Miss Kitty said...

Thanks for that great tutorial! I was wondering if you were going to be able to put it outside on a porch but then you shared about the varnish...a great finishing touch!

Moms DIY Life said...

This is AWESOME! I am writing a blog of some fascinating Halloween DIY pumpkins and Halloween decorations. I would like to add your blog to mine. You can visit me here:

Denise Gunnels said...

Was one batch of the paste recipe enough for the pumpkin?

lee woo said...

Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration.
But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away. See the link below for more info.


Margie Lou said...

How had this held up outside? Have you been able to reuse it year after year?

patricia gosselin said...

many years ago I made a huge 5 or 6 foot diameter giant pumpkin. I sent away for a weather balloon, inflated it to the size I wanted. I used wire circular bands tied together top and bottom to make the sections in the skin. I used newspaper. after that dried i added a stem. Came out great.


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