Make Three-Dimensional Art Pumpkins, Vintage-Style

Decorating for Halloween can go many different ways. You can take the scary route, the natural route, the Gothic route, and so on. I prefer the folk arty route: cute, vintage, artsy.

papier mache art pumpkins leslie brier
These plastic pumpkins now look like vintage paper-mache art. By Leslie Brier.

So I perked right up when I saw these three-dimensional art pumpkins in the September/October 2010 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. The genius of the technique, in my opinion, is that you start with a plastic pumpkin as the base.

Leslie Brier offers two versions of these decorations, one using paper clay and plaster cloth and another using covered with book page strips and matte medium. The first technique results in a plaster-art jack ‘o lantern. The second looks like old-fashioned papier-mâché art.

Here are the directions for the latter method.

"Papier-mâché" Pumpkins
By Leslie Brier


  • Plastic jack ‘o lantern (like the ones used as trick-or-treat bags or the mini candy favor holders)
  • Old book pages
  • Matte medium
  • Watercolor pencils
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paper clay
  • Black Micron® pen (optional)
  • Vintage buttons
  • Decorative ribbon
  • Brads

paper mache style pumpkins by leslie brier
From plastic to 'paper-mache.'


1. Remove the handle. Cut strips from book pages and apply them to the pumpkin using matte medium (figure 1). Try to find a book with pages that are not too thick (like those from a vintage dictionary).

Tip: I have the text on the strips go in the same direction (horizontally), but you can choose to create a pattern, go vertically, or whatever you like.

2. Once dry, give the pumpkin an aged look by running a watercolor pencil down the creases of the pumpkin (figure 2) and then going over the pencil marks with a wet brush (figure 3).

3. Draw in the nose and mouth with acrylic paint or watercolor pencils (figure 4).

4. Outline the painted details with a Micron pen, if desired.

5. Fill the hollows of the eyes with paper clay (figure 5) and press vintage buttons into the clay to create a flat spot for the buttons. Once the clay is dry, pop the buttons out and then glue them in place to secure (figure 6).

6. Cut a length of decorative ribbon about 1⁄2" longer than the handle that was removed. Poke a hole in both ends of the ribbon and slide a brad into each hole to fasten the ribbon to the pumpkin.

Whether your fall décor style is spooky, arty, or nature-inspired, you can get a treat bag full of Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, and autumn-themed art ideas and projects in the September/October 2009 and 2010 issues of Cloth Paper Scissors. Download each of them now for just $1 for a limited time!

P.S. How do you decorate this time of year? Leave a comment below.




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