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How to Make Plastic Pumpkins Come to Life

While I love carving real pumpkins, sometimes a cheap plastic pumpkin will do the job. Department, grocery and hardware stores all carry those orange blow-form beauties in all shapes and sizes but they can be a little lifeless. With a touch of paint and dry brushing you can easily transform a plastic pumpkin into something truly unique. Don't worry if you are not an artist. You will get great results because there's nothing complicated or exact about the technique. The best part is that its takes only a few minutes and you'll have them for years to come.

You will need:

  • Plastic or foam pumpkin

  • Liquitex Basics Red Oxide (dark red), Burnt Sienna (dark orange), Burnt Umber (dark brown) paints (any craft paint will do, but I love Liquitex colors)

  • Flat, wide orange nylon brush

  • Paper towels

  • Spray bottle with water

  • Spray matte varnish or spar urethane

The one minute video below shows you the simple technique:

Dry Brushing Tips

  • You want a very light, quick touch with the brush, adding very thin layers rather than thick coats.

  • You want to see some of the original orange color shine through so blending the colors by dabbing or lightly rubbing with a paper towel is essential.

  • Work on with small sections, adding various colors at once and blend. Once paint starts to dry, it won't blend.

  • If brushes become wet, use a fresh, bone dry brush. I usually have a set of brushes ready to go.

  • Use burnt umber along the ribs (vertical line segments) to really define the shape.

  • Let paint dry completely before applying varnish. The varnish will seal the paint which is important if you are using the pumpkins outside. Rain, water from the sprinklers and the sun will wear on the paint. Also, because plastic is flexible, paint might flake off if the pumpkins bump or get smashed in storage. Sealing the paint will help.

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