For about the last week I’ve been able to feel a little bit of Autumn’s nip in the air, now for some reason I dislike cold weather, but I LOVE fall. I guess something about nature ‘going to sleep’ in preparation for Spring’s renewal speaks to me. For that reason I tend to make a good many Autumn and Halloween crafts.
This month I went back to one of my previous crafts, so I must apologize for the lack of step-by-step pictures. I will do my best to give an extremely detailed text tutorial.
Last year at work there were several examples of what sort of topiaries could be made with craft pumpkins and even some having a house/street number carved into them. I don’t have a covered porch or anything where I would want to put my street number for the world to see so I opted to make an indoor arrangement and to use my last name. I liked the look of a peach basket for the bottom of my topiary, but I learned the hard way that with five pumpkins it is extremely top heavy. If you are using more than one or two small pumpkins, or more than one large pumpkin I strongly recommend that you use a terra-cotta pot or similar container for the base so that the bulk of the weight is at the bottom and not the top. If you insist on a basket for the bottom like I did, you will need to fill any empty space with rocks or something else heavy to add some heft to the bottom, or you may have to re-construct your topiary after it tips over.
•Craft pumpkins – I used five, six inch pumpkins for an indoor display but if you were doing an outdoor display you could use larger pumpkins.
•Pumpkin dremel or hot knife – trust me, you will need one of these for a smooth cut
•Stencils for your letters/numbers/shapes
•Tape to hold your stencil in place while you transfer the design
•Hot glue or E6000 to hold everything together
•Autumn garlands and silk flowers for accents
•Heavy container for base
•Floral foam block as tall as your container
•String of battery operated lights to put up through pumpkins.
First, I found a font online that I
Really liked and was simple enough for my pumpkin carving skills and I printed the letters out in a size that fit my pumpkins.
Next I taped the stencils to the pumpkins, folding and cutting the stencils as needed to make them conform to the shape of the pumpkins. Much of this process is like the commercial kits you can get for carving real pumpkins at Halloween.
Then I transferred the stencil shapes to the pumpkins using the “pouncer wheel” I got from a pumpkin carving kit. Pressing hard and rolling it along the stencil it leaves little dimples in the surface of the pumpkin through the paper that you later play “connect the dots”. If you don’t have any such thing you can always use a pen or a pencil and make the dots, or even press hard enough and trace lines onto the pumpkins.
Then I removed the stencil. It is actually easier to cut the pumpkins without it in the way. If you made dots/dimples from the stencil now take a pen or a pencil and connect the dots, try not to leave too much ink or lead on the surface in case you don’t cut directly on the lines.
Now for your cutting tool! The best way to cut a craft pumpkin is with a hot knife, or a wood burning tool with a hot knife attachment. This will melt the foam and leave less of a mess. If a wood burning tool is a bit out of your budget the next best thing is a pumpkin dremel with a blade specifically for artificial pumpkins. The last I knew the blades for artificial pumpkins are a Michael’s crafts exclusive. With this method you will want to do like a real pumpkin and cut it outside or over newspaper as there will be a LOT of dust. I got my dremel several years ago from Wal-Mart and I can change out the blades with just about any Pumpkin Master hand held blades.
When cutting your pumpkins, remember, slow and steady wins the race. Cut an inch and a half to two inch hole in the bottom of your pumpkins. This is where the scraps from cutting the letters/numbers will fall out. Then set aside your top pumpkin and cut the stems out of the rest of the pumpkins. This will ensure that the bottoms of the pumpkins will sit on the tops of the ones below them. Now cut out your letters.
My string of lights was more or less a plastic coated wire with 15 LED’s down its length. The LED’s are merely bumps on the wire instead of bulbs hanging off. If these are unavailable to you, a strand of battery operated Christmas lights will work, they will just be more noticeable. Thread your lights up through the bottom pumpkin and now take the block of floral foam and attach to the bottom of the bottom pumpkin. If you don’t like the idea of not being able to take the string of lights out of the pumpkin should a light or two burn out, hot glue some short dowels to the bottom of the pumpkin and stick into the foam, otherwise just hot glue the foam to the pumpkin.
Here is where it got a little complicated for me. Once I had the lights in my bottom pumpkin I threaded the string through the next pumpkin. Then, holding the pumpkin up to ensure I didn’t glue the lights, I put a generous ring of hot glue around the top hole of the bottom pumpkin. Then I placed the next pumpkin on it, ensuring that it was ligned up with the bottom pumpkin. Then I just repeated the process with the other three pumpkins. My lights have a bit of stiffness to the wire so I didn’t have to worry about how to make sure the lights stood up in the pumpkin, but if that is a concern for you, put a dollop of hot glue on the end of your wire before putting it into your pumpkin and make sure it touches the top.
Once the hot glue had a chance to cure between the pumpkins I started adding the flowers, leaves, and garlands to spruce it up. This was hot on the heels of my fall wreath so all I really needed for this was the garlands. I bought two that were different, but if you want yours the same, go for it. I twisted the garlands together and then I coiled them around the base of the bottom pumpkin to make the basket look full of leaves. I did pull a few leaves off here and there to add between the pumpkins and to put a couple on top. I just kind of stuck flowers and such here and there to make it a bit more colorful. Put a nice little dollop of hot glue on the stems of your leaves and flowers (cutting stems down to size as necessary) and stick them in the spaces between the pumpkins and holding them until the glue cools.
Feel free to make changes to come up with something that is truly your own. You could even try painting the pumpkins before you glue them, or even adding glitter! Happy Harvest!