It’s {Finally} Pumpkin Time!

With Love, From CA Fall Pumpkins 1

Supplies: 

pumpkins | computer paper | pencil | tape | scissors | acrylic paints | paint brush | can of Shellac

Fall is my absolute favorite season.  Twirling swirling leaves, gorgeous reds and deep oranges, crisp breezes, cinnamon scented pine cones, riding boots, scarves, and caramel lattes.  Not to mention, pumpkin flavored everything.

It’s still early in the season (or at least it was when I originally wrote this post in September), but I’ve been inspired by Country Living Magazine’s list of 37 New Ways to Decorate Your Halloween Pumpkins.   Check it out, it is absolutely adorable.  It’s barely September here in California so I ruled out most of the Halloween related pumpkins for now, but I fell in love with the state pride pumpkin design and decided to get to it.

I considered purchasing “craft” pumpkins (which are usually made of some sort of synthetic material or are ceramic) so I wouldn’t have to toss all my hard work at the end of the season.  However, a trip to Michaels turned up only the synthetic kind, which were: 1) expensive ranging between $9.99 and $29.99 depending on the size of the pumpkin; and 2) extremely light weight, which made me worry about them blowing away since I was going to be putting them outside.  I thought about spending the cash, drilling a hole in the bottom, and filling them with sand to weigh them down, but in the end I decided that real pumpkins were the less expensive and easier way to go.

Because it’s still September, I had to visit four different stores before I even found one that had pumpkins in stock.  I spent about 25 minutes inspecting the bins of pumpkins and arranging them in different formations (and getting the “she’s crazy” look from other customers) before I found the perfect three to take home with me.

Tip: Look for pumpkins that are less curved from top to bottom, which makes for easier painting and design transfer.  Arrange your pumpkins together in the store the way you will be displaying them at home so you can make sure the different sizes nest together nicely and don’t block one another from being viewed.

While I was at the craft store, I picked up a few new fall paint colors.  I decided I wanted to keep the pumpkins their natural orange color this time around, so I was looking for a complimentary brown, white, and green.  I went with simple acrylic paints, which usually range from $.99 to $1.99 a bottle depending on the brand.  I chose Americana’s Light Avocado (green) and Snow White (white), as well as My Studio’s Bittersweet Chocolate (brown).

Back at home I jumped on good old Google to get my design inspiration.  I knew I wanted to do a state pride pumpkin, so I quickly found an outline of the state of California through a Google image search.  I also opened up a Word document, typed in my address number, and spent about 5 minutes playing around with fonts until I found one I liked.  For my third pumpkin, I decided on a monogram pumpkin with the letter A.  One last Google image search found me the perfect template.

Once I had the images I wanted, I copied and pasted them into a Word document so I could play with the size of the images.  I tried to size them until they looked about equal to the size of the pumpkin surface I was going to be painting, but it still took a couple of times of printing each design out and holding it up against the pumpkin to get it right.

With my designs ready to go, I got started by covering my workspace in newspaper and gently wiping down my pumpkins to remove any excess dirt or debris.  Then came the super sneaky crafty part:

1. I flipped the image I wanted to put on my first pumpkin over and traced the outline of it with a pencil.  As long as you use black and white printing and regular computer paper (no thick fancy paper), you should be able to see it.  You don’t even need to hold it up to a window.  Just sit at the table and trace away.

2. When you’re done, flip the paper around to the correct side and carefully tape it face up exactly where you want the design to sit on your pumpkin.  To make this easier, I cut away any excess white space on the paper that didn’t have part of the design on it.

3. Next, trace over the design on the front side of the paper.  In all its crafty magic, the force of the pencil will press the lead on the backside of the paper onto the surface of the pumpkin and transfer your design. You actually don’t even need to use a pencil for the last part.  You can use a popsicle stick, the edge of ruler, or any other object you happen to have sitting next to you to rub the lead onto the pumpkin.

 4. When you peel the paper off, your design should be traced onto the surface of the pumpkin.  I peeled the paper off slowly and peeked to make sure it all transferred before completely removing my tracer.  If it doesn’t, you can either go back and re-rub the parts that didn’t transfer with a bit more force, or you can just fill in the blank spots free hand.

Once your design is transferred, all you have to do is get out those pretty fall paint colors and fill it in! I ended up using two coats of paint on my designs because I really wanted the colors to pop against the bright orange of the pumpkins.  The acrylic paint dries pretty quickly, so by the time I was done painting the third pumpkin, I just restarted with the first one again for a second round of paint.

I let the pumpkins dry overnight and then I sprayed them with a coat of Shellac.  I picked this up at Home Depot for about $7.99 a can (plus a 10% military discount!).  It’s a clear coat that will seal the paint onto your pumpkins, making them weatherproof from all that fall rain and frost, and will also keep the outside of the pumpkins looking fresh.  Sometimes I forget that pumpkins are actual vegetables and no matter how nicely you paint them, they will still eventually rot :(.

om CA Fall Pumpkin Shellac

I was smart enough to shellac my pumpkins outside (the fumes from this stuff are outrageous) and to put down newspaper first, but I did make the mistake of thinking they were dry after about 10 minutes and flipping them over to spray the other side.  I quickly found out they were not completely dry when I tried to pick them up and saw that the side I had put face down on the newspaper was sticking to the paper.  Unfortunately, this was the side with my freshly painted designs and the shellac was acting like glue, pulling the paint onto the newspaper with it.  So that part was a pretty epic fail.  It pulled off about 1/3 of my paint job.

Not to worry though, I took those babies right back to my craft table and 24 hours later they were freshly re-painted and re-shellacked.  Lesson learned.  And now they are happily sitting out on my front porch looking pretty freaking awesome if I do say so myself.

Here’s how they turned out in the end:

Disclaimer: The close-ups above were taken before I applied the coat of Shellac.  The end result is a bit more shiny, as seen in the photos below.

Like the planters?  I made those too!  Check back soon for my next post on step-by-step instructions on how to make your own fabulous fall planters.

I hope you try this quick and easy project, and that you can learn from my rookie pumpkin painting mistakes.  Happy Fall Y’all!

-Shayna {September 2013}

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12 thoughts on “It’s {Finally} Pumpkin Time!

  1. I read this and wanted to go craft pumpkins, but then I saw them outside our front door. Maybe next time. Love this. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

  2. We just carved a pumpkin and named him “jacques” (french, for “jack,” as in “jack-o-latern” of course), but he isn’t nearly as beautiful as your pumpkins! Great project and execution my dear! Please keep blogging– I love seeing what you are up to and ‘hearing’ your voice. xox

  3. Pumpkins came out FANTASTIC! I heart the California punkin (yes punkin) and want to make one with my state. Love your posts, so inspiring AS ALWAYS! xoxo

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