Assoc. Features Editor
Leaves are changing colors, temperatures are dropping, scary movies and hayrides are popping up everywhere. While some people are rushing to pick out their perfect Halloween costumes, others are busy trying to decorate for the season. With the fall weather come pumpkins and all the creative ways to decorate with them.
Every October, pumpkins appear as a festive fall decoration. According to lore, it was Irish immigrants who brought the tradition of carving Jack-o’-lanterns to the United States, where it quickly became a part of our Halloween celebrations.
The people of Ireland have a legend of a drunken, evil farmer named Jack who made a deal with the devil that led to his being turned back at both the gates of Heaven and Hell when he died. Forced to wander the darkness of Purgatory, Jack made a lantern from a plant. It was believed that Jack used a turnip with a lump of burning coal to guide his lost soul. Every Halloween, communities in Ireland would create their own turnip lamps to scare him and other evil spirits away.
Several centuries later, the legend still lives on, though most people would agree the belief that the gourd will protect you from spirits has long been forgotten. The tradition switched from turnips to pumpkins when Irish immigrants found that there were more pumpkins than turnips in the United States.
If you are in need of some new pumpkin-related decorating tips you are in luck, because there are tons of different, creative, and fun ideas available online. Here are a couple of inexpensive do-it-yourself (DIY) craft ideas that will help make your fall holiday season a little more festive.
In order to carve your own Jack-o’-lantern, you will need:
• Votive candles
• Felt-tip pens / pencils / stencils
• Chef’s knives or pumpkin-carving sets
• Votive candle holders
• Large spoon
Follow these 9 easy steps for pumpkin carving, found at eHow.com:
1. Select a fresh pumpkin.
2. Draw a circle or hexagon on top of the pumpkin in preparation for making an opening large enough for your hand to reach through.
3. Cut through the stem end of the pumpkin along your outline with a sharp knife or pumpkin-carving tool. Use a back-and-forth slicing motion to cut through the thick, tough skin.
4. Remove the stem end, which will act as a cap, making sure you scrape off any seeds or pulp.
5. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp from inside the pumpkin. Hold the spoon by its bowl to get extra leverage while scooping.
6. Draw a pattern for the face on the clean pumpkin with a felt-tip pen, or scribe the lines into the skin using a pencil. Be sure to make the eyes, nose and mouth large enough; you’ll have a hard time cutting out tiny features when you’re using a big knife blade to saw through tough skin.
7. Follow your pattern as you cut all the way through the pumpkin.
8. Push the cut-out features gently from the inside of the pumpkin and discard the pieces.
9. Place a votive candle inside the pumpkin to create an eerie glow.
If you are interested in finding some spooktacular carving patterns visit http://www.zombiepumpkins.com/patterns for over 300 pumpkin carving patterns in 16 different categories ranging from the creative to the creepy.
Want to skip the mess that comes along with carving but still want to decorate your pumpkins? Break out the paint and glitter, and follow these easy steps to create pumpkins that look like these; found at http://cieradesign.com/2012/10/17/diy-paint-dipped-pumpkins/.
Supplies for painted pumpkins:
• Masking tape
• White acrylic paint
Supplies for glitter pumpkins:
• Masking tape
• Acrylic paint the same color as the glitter being used
• Modge podge
1. Section off your pumpkin with masking tape. You can tape it in any design you desire. Make sure the tape is firmly pressed down; otherwise your paint will run underneath it.
2. Prime your pumpkin with white acrylic paint. This makes it so that the color you choose is not dulled by the orange of the pumpkin. Apply two coats, letting it dry in between coats.
3. After the white primer is dry pick whatever color acrylic paint you like and paint over the same area of the pumpkin that is now white.
4. Once you achieve the coverage that you are happy with and your colored paint dries, pull the tape off, being very careful not to pull the paint off with it.
1. Section off your pumpkin with masking tape in any design you like.
2. Instead of priming with white, prime the pumpkin with acrylic paint that matches the color of the glitter being used.
3. Once that is dry, paint the same area with Modge Podge and then sprinkle glitter over the glue-covered area.
Not interested in purchasing a real pumpkin, but love decorating for fall? Find some fall-colored paper and make a few paper pumpkins, like these found on eliseblaha.typepad.com.
• 8.5×11 cardstock in various colors
• String or ribbon
• Hole punch
• Pushpin for tacking them to your ceiling
1. Cut your cardstock into strips that are equal in length and width. I did 16 strips of 11″ x 1″ and 14 strips of 8.5″ x .75″.
2. Stack the papers and punch holes through the top and bottom of each strip.
3. String the strips on your piece of string or ribbon. Seal the string with a piece of tape or a sticker.
4. String through the top holes.
5. Pull the string tight until the paper bows out. Tie off the top (make sort of a bow/messy knot. It just needs to be big enough that the string doesn’t go back through the paper).
6. Fan out the strips until you have created a sphere shape.
7. Hang from your ceiling and secure with a push pin.
8. Use different colors, sizes and lengths of string to create a cluster of autumn excitement.
Looking for a way to transition your Halloween decorations into Thanksgiving decorations? Make this cute pumpkin turkey found on naptimecrafters.com.
• Pumpkin- real or fake
• 6 wooden spoons
• Acrylic paint
• Googly eyes
• Red and yellow felt or construction paper
• Tacky glue
• Screwdriver (if using a real pumpkin)
1. Use your screwdriver to get some holes started in your pumpkin.
2. Insert spoons (by putting the spoons in the pumpkin and then painting you can do all of the sides at the same time)
3. Paint spoons
4. Cut out a beak and gobbler
5. Glue on the face after everything is dry