The Junk Parlor

DIY Paper Mache Pumpkin – The Perfect Fall Craft!

This paper mache pumpkin is the perfect project for someone who likes to get their hands dirty and spend some time absorbed in a crafting project! I love how this pumpkin turned out and I have lots of ideas on how to make the next one even better. This project evolved as I went along. I originally wanted to create a neutral pumpkin but as you can see it turned out differently. Keep reading to learn how to create this paper mache pumpkin!

Tools & Materials for Paper Mache

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Before getting into this project, there are a few things to prep.

Preparing the Paper for the Pumpkin

Start by tearing your paper sacks or newspapers into strips. If you are using paper sacks, I recommend that you tear them into thin strips, as those will be easier to create a 3-D effect on your pumpkin. If you are using newspaper, you can create wide strips, since the newspaper isn’t as heavy as the paper bag.

Making Your Paste for the Paper Mache

Next, mix up your homemade paper mache paste… I started with a cup of flour and a generous sprinkling of salt (to keep it from getting moldy) and water as needed. Mix in the water a little bit at a time with your flour and salt until you have a pancake batter consistency. 

Preparing Your Balloon

Finally, blow up your balloon according to the size of the pumpkin you want to create. Less air allows you to have more variation in your pumpkin.

Take your twine and tie it around the tail of the balloon… Then, wrap it around the balloon to start creating the ridges of your pumpkin. Each time you pass by your balloon tail, wrap your twine around the balloon tail to keep it in place. Once you have created your desired amount of ridges for your pumpkin, you are ready for the next step.

Get Messy

Now it is time for the fun part – paper mache! Take your strips of newspaper and dip them in the paste you mixed up earlier. You want your strips to be soaked so that they will form to the pumpkin. I would recommend that you start with a layer of newspaper in the crevices or use narrow pieces of the paper bag… I found that since the newspaper is a thinner material; it could get into the grooves of the pumpkin better than the paper bag strips. Soak strips of newspaper and apply them to your balloon pumpkin until you have it completely covered. Make sure that you overlap your strips. Allow the pumpkin to dry between layers.

To work on mine, I found it was easier to set it on top of an old ice cream bucket. The ice cream bucket allowed me to keep the pumpkin from rolling away as I covered each side.

For my second layer, I repeated the same process, except I used the paper bag strips. I was able to get away with only doing two layers because of the thickness of the paper bag strips. If you are using only newspaper for this project, I would recommend using more layers so that it is sturdy.

After you have completed your desired amount of layers, make sure to let it dry completely.

I was hoping that the paper bag strips would give my pumpkin a neutral look, something like THIS, but I found that once it was dry the paste covered most of the brown. Homemade paste is a little thicker and less translucent than store-bought paper mache would be. This is when I decided to paint my pumpkin.

Painting the Paper Mache Pumpkin

To prep my pumpkin for painting, I sanded it. I used a sanding block, like THIS. The paste I used was thicker in some areas where I didn’t get it smoothed out as well so not only would sanding help knock down some of those areas, but it is also giving our paint something to stick to.

Then I removed the balloon from the inside of the pumpkin. This was a process and didn’t go at all like I planned.

To remove the balloon, I used a pin to pop it. I anticipated the balloon immediately deflating and getting trapped inside the pumpkin. So, I securely held on to the end of the balloon while I popped it. However, it did not deflate. Well, it did, but because of the twine wrapped around it, everything basically stayed in place. I cut a small hole in the pumpkin’s top so I could work on loosening the twine from the pumpkin. I used my fingers and leverage to get the twine to pull away from the side walls of the pumpkin and then continued to pull up on the balloon slowly and carefully to get the balloon out. You don’t necessarily need to remove the balloon, but I wanted to get the tail of the balloon out of the way for my stem.

Once the balloon was out, I spray-painted my paper mache pumpkin. 

Adding a Stem

For the stem, I had wanted to use the stem from a real pumpkin. That didn’t work out so I ended up creating one using paper bag strips. I rolled up a paper bag strip and completely soaked it in modge podge. I also added smaller strips at the base of the stem so I could glue it to the pumpkin easily later on. 

After letting the stem dry completely, I used a paintbrush and the homemade paste to glue the stem to the top of the pumpkin. 

Wipe away the excess paste, and allow it to dry completely.

I used some brown paint and a small paintbrush to paint my stem.

To give my pumpkin a little something extra, I took some faux foliage and created a ring to place around the stem. I secured this with hot glue.

Adding Something Extra

This is a great project because you can let your creativity run wild and customize it to your liking. You can make your pumpkins in any size that you want, you could leave them bare for a neutral look, or paint them funky colors. You could even create a bowl by cutting the pumpkin in half! 

Styling your Paper Mache Pumpkin

To style my pumpkin, I found a tureen and placed some straw inside of it so it would peek out around the bottom of my pumpkin and give texture.  An urn would also be ideal for styling your pumpkin. 

For another pumpkin craft, check out my Quick & Easy Jar Lid Pumpkin!

THIS is also a very popular DIY!

This post may contain affiliate links for the products I use and recommend. I am not paid to promote these products. If you purchase using my affiliate links, I could make a small commission at no charge to you.

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Hi, I’m Brooke. Welcome to The Junk Parlor.

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