A few months ago we were browsing on the Target website looking at all of their amazing Halloween items when we stumbled upon an adorable paper mache pumpkin for only $5! Within seconds of seeing the pumpkin we had it in our cart knowing the crafting possibilities were endless. We got a total of four pumpkins (one for each of our children) so each family could decorate them differently. 

Here’s how each of us tackled the project:

First, what is your favorite paper mache memory?

Katie: I remember working on a school project with my dad (probably 4th or 5th grade) and I had to make a globe. We made our own paste out of flour and water and covered a balloon over and over again with the plastered paper. Once dried, the fun part! Popping the balloon. I then sketched out earth and painted onto it. Such a fun project!

Maghan: I was in elementary school when I got to tag along with my mom as she helped out at a week long art and music camp over the summer. I was so excited to make my very own maraca after listening to an amazing percussion performance. After blowing up a balloon as circular as I could, I used torn up newspaper and thick handmade paste to cover the entire balloon. I repeated the process a few times over the course of a couple of days. Once the newspaper wasn’t squishy anymore and felt strong I got to pop the balloon and fill the inside with dried beans. Next, I added a stick and added even more paper mache to secure it before the final step of painting. And after what felt like years (but really just a week) I finally had something that looked and sounded like a maraca! 

How did you begin this paper mache project?

K: From past projects, I knew that tissue paper collaging was an activity that my kiddos enjoyed doing and could easily do without much direction from myself. I also knew that I wanted to display these pumpkins in my house throughout the fall season and wanted them to coordinate with the space. Am I a little crazy? Maybe 🙂 I picked out a color palette that would do that, knowing the kids could then do as they wanted with the pumpkins.

M: Usually, I have a clear vision in my mind and I gather all of the pieces accordingly. This time I made the “mistake” of asking the kiddos how they wanted to decorate their pumpkins without any limitations set in place. Well, that was a fun exercise in patience! Lesson learned! At the end of our conversation one kid wanted to paint the pumpkin yellow (his favorite color) but also add in some Halloween colors (black, orange and dark yellow) while the other kid decided to make a witch with yarn hair, a witches hat and a wart on her nose, but of course. My supply list kept growing as their ideas were flowing!

What crafting supplies were used?

K: Tissue paper cut into squares, gold metallic paint, modge podge and paint brushes.

M: Way too many!! There was lots of paint involved, foam brushes, mini pom poms, yarn, scissors, craft and hot glue, sharpie, witches hat (found as a headband in the Halloween costume section), glitter, googly eyes and paper bats. 

What was your process?

K: They started by painting the stems of the pumpkins gold. After that dried, they began the process of collaging the tissue paper onto the pumpkins. This is where it got pretty messy! They would brush some glue onto the surface and then cover with tissue paper and repeat it over and over until the whole surface was covered.

M: Not a very good one. Ha! Once again, I was winging it and set out the supplies on the table around them and said, “you can start now.” Not exactly knowing their vision I let them take the lead and I assisted when needed – like holding the pumpkins still so it didn’t fall paint-first onto the floor! When both kids finally decided they were done painting we let the pumpkins dry before adding lots of glue to complete the look they had in mind.

Did the kids enjoy this craft? Did you?

K: They did! Although, admittedly, their attention span ran out before the pumpkins were finished. I wasn’t totally surprised because they are a good size and it was taking a while to cover it with small paper squares. I asked if they wanted to work on them later and they did not. Again, not surprised! So I ended up finishing them. Later on, we decided to add a gold color block to the bottom of each one. And yes, since I was able to join in the fun of working on them, I enjoyed it as well!

M: Yes, the kids loved every minute of this craft! I on the other hand may have been a bit too uptight to enjoy their process of trial and errors. Being a backseat crafter can be tough sometimes! haha 

Will this pumpkin craft be on the must-do list for next year?

K: Possibly! I do plan on breaking these out every year so we’ll see how I want to grow my collection.

M: Maybe?! Next year I might gather the supplies beforehand so it’s a fun afternoon project and not a week-long project waiting for all of the parts and pieces to dry! 

The final tissue paper collage pumpkins!
The final painted pumpkins!

We hope you enjoyed our little Q&A! Paper mache has always held a special place in our hearts as it was a craft we did as kids. So the next time you see that paper mache item in the store, think about picking it up because the crafting possibilities really are endless.

Happy crafting, friends.

– Katie & Maghan