The party is in June, and we started creating decorations in January, so my access to real pumpkins (as much as I tried) was non-existent. I started to consider purchasing plastic pumpkins to paint and decorate, but part of the agreement that we made with our husbands (when they begrudgingly agreed to this party) was that we would keep costs as low as possible. I had an epiphany when I came across some mâché pumpkins at Hobbycraft, but even these were more than I wanted to spend. So, I decided to make my own papier-mâché pumpkins.
It truly is amazing what you can find on Pinterest and Youtube, and after researching various ways of creating papier-mâché pumpkins (yes, I know, I was shocked to learn that there were other crazies out there interested in doing this as well!) I settled on a balloon method.
I bought a pack of balloons from ASDA (Walmart to my American friends) for £1.00 and started blowing them up to different sizes. I read various different suggestions on how best to make these pumpkins, and in all honesty I’m not convinced my way was the best (!), but I loosely followed the “Instructables” directions whilst taking note of the suggestions made in the comments.
Tying the string around the balloons was by far the hardest part of this project, and I ended up employing various different techniques which, not surprisingly, yielded various different results. My first few attempts involved rubber bands which worked well for the smaller pumpkins but didn’t give enough of an indentation for the bigger pumpkins. I also tried using twine, which, like the string was incredibly difficult to get tied around as it kept slipping off. I even used Christmas curling ribbon which was a complete disaster as it kept breaking. It seemed that the key was to find something that would stay put and also allow you to pull it tighter and tighter to create the proper indentations.
Weirdly, in the end, I found that strips of cotton fabric, twirled very tightly, stayed as easily as the rubber bands, but could be wrapped around the bigger pumpkins and tied very tightly to create the bulbous sides indicative of a real pumpkin.
The next step was to shape these pumpkins with papier-mâche. By far, this was the most time consuming activity I have employed in a long time!
My first hurdle was finding newspaper! I’m an online newspaper subscriber as, it seems, are my husband and every friend I came across. As this was meant to be my super cheap pumpkin project I loathed the idea of trying to buy newspaper, particularly when I wasn’t convinced of the results, and, on a whim visited the recycling bins behind the local supermarket. I must have looked a right state, sifting manically through the dumpsters in the rain (yes, of course it was raining) with a giant grin on my face, but I came away with seven or eight newspapers and couldn’t have been happier!!! I spent an entire evening ripping those papers into thin strips convinced that my pumpkins would be ready to decorate by the end of the week. Boy, was I wrong!
Once the balloons were blown up and tied with various rubber bands, ribbons, twine, etc., and the paper was also stripped into thin pieces, I started looking for a “glue” recipe. In the end I decided against the recipe suggested on the Instructables page, and instead decided to use White PVC glue mixed with water (i.e. the cheap alternative to Modge Podge)
Still uncertain of what I was actually doing, I once again, hit Google and YouTube and found a video showing how to papier-mâché a balloon for, in their case, a piñata. I followed the technique and ended up with these.
It seems that the trick to these papier-mâché pumpkins is to only apply one layer at a time and let that layer dry for at least 24 hours before moving on to the next layer. Three layers were used for each pumpkin, and I used computer paper for the final layer in order to make it easier to paint over later on – I didn’t want to waste paint trying to cover up newspaper pictures.
I admit that they didn’t all come out quite as well as I would have hoped and I’m fairly certain this is down to the use of different tying techniques, but I’m still pretty proud of them and they’ll be perfect for the purposes of our party.
Decorating the pumpkins has definitely been the most fun and I’ve taken my inspiration from various pictures on Pinterest. As I had sixteen pumpkins to play with, my first pumpkin really was a bit of an experiment (well all of these pumpkins are really just experiments!) but I’m still pleased with the result.
One of my favourite techniques for decorating pumpkins was to layer colour on top of colour and “glaze” it with PVA glue. I took my inspiration from the Brave Girls Club article/video which I definitely suggest checking out! I can’t wait to try this technique again in the Autumn with real pumpkins!
As this is a Cinderella Ball, I also felt that we really needed some proper glammed up pumpkins and resorted to glueing on all manner of beads, crystals and pearls.
I also, whilst keeping the newest Cinderella movie in mind, decided that shimmering butterflies were definitely in order!
No doubt about it, I’ve got a lot of man hours in these pumpkins, and I nearly cried when my husband recently pointed out that the boys at the party were likely to use them as footballs (soccer), but they were really enjoyable to make and I am massively proud of each and everyone! (…And I may very well do bodily harm to any child that manhandles them!)
I totally got carried away with my pumpkin pictures, but thought I’d share my pumpkins in their “natural” element with you…
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