DIY Outdoor Real Looking Pumpkins

Updated 9.4.20

DIY Outdoor Real Looking Pumpkins

I can not believe how great these turned out! 

*This post contains some affiliate links. Please see my full Disclosure Statement

They were so cheap, well, they were practically free, because I had almost all of the materials here at home.  The only things I purchased was the outdoor polyurethane spray and one package of grapevine garland. 

That little pumpkin on the ground is one of those faux carvable pumpkins.  I bought that years ago and just repainted it.  

Anyway, I wanted to make a stacked pumpkin decoration for the front porch. But when I went shopping to look at pumpkins... I had sticker shock! 

For one of those big pumpkins, they wanted $30! Even with 40% off that's still $18. Then the medium sized one was $15 with a discount and the small one was going to be around $12. That's a total of $45 just for pumpkins.  

I wanted to make two of them for the front door. $90 in pumpkins??? NO! Not happening. I could think of a hundred other ways I'd like to spend $90!

These came out sooo amazing!!!

Before and After Outdoor Pumpkins

After a bit of research, I came across a method that might work for outdoor pumpkins.  Paper mâché! 

Here are the supplies you'll need, garbage bags, newspaper and masking tape.  

supplies for outdoor pumpkins

I stuffed a garbage bag with some wadded up newspaper then taped off the top.  I plopped onto a planter  to get an idea of how big I wanted it.  Then I wound tape around it attempting to give it a pumpkin shape.

figuring pumpkin shape

Then I made a few more with any plastic bag on hand. Looks a little wonky... 😜

3 pumpkins stacked

Then I set to ripping strips of newspaper and got nice and messy in paper mâché paste! 

Paper mâché paste is super easy to make! 
2 cups of water
¾ cup of flour

Just mix it up.  I read that you can cook it or not, but that the cooked method isn't necessarily stronger.

The game changer was Paper Clay.  There are soooo many recipes out there.  I used this one.

For each pumpkin, I did 2 layers of paper mâché.  Allowing them to dry thoroughly.  They took about a full day to dry. We were having some nice weather, when I started these, so that helped in the drying process. 

After the paper mâché dried,  I made the paper clay and started applying it to the pumpkins. The right one has some paper clay on it. 

The paper clay took some getting used to.  I made the first batch too dry, but I got the hang of it. 

I used paper mâché paste to smooth it out as I was applying the paper clay. You can see how bumpy it was here. Not really the look I was going for....

Bumpy paper clay pumpkin

By the end, I pretty much got it all smoothed out.  Now for the painting process.

painting pumpkins

Not bad, The goal is to make them to look like real pumpkins.

Painting pumpkins

I'm no artist, that's for sure, but from a distance, they came out pretty good. 👍

I used all kinds of paint, interior latex, exterior latex, craft paint. I figured it didn't matter because I planned on spraying them all down with Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane.

Now, I needed to figure out how I was going to stack them. I wanted them to be secure.  The weather can be a bit unpredictable...

how to stack the pumpkins

There is a plastic bucket upside down in this planter and I drilled a hole through it.  

I found this pipe in the shed, we used it for running electricity underground.  It's a 1 in. plastic pipe. Then I cut a hole in a large garbage bag and placed that over the pipe and stuffed the edges inside the planter over the dirt. I didn't want the pumpkins to sit in dirt or on wet dirt. 

Now to make holes in the pumpkins.

making holes in pumpkins

I used a 1 in. drill bit just to get it started, then I rammed that screwdriver through. 😳

It worked! I did have to cut off a bit of the pipe for the last pumpkin.

DIY Pumpkins stacked

Yay! Now for a little decoration and we're done!! Just a bit, I wanted it simple.

Stacked Pumpkin Decor

The grapevine garland only cost me about $3 at AC Moore. I used a bit of it to make 3 rings to set between the pumpkins.  Gluing a few leaves here and there.

DIY Outdoor Real Looking Pumpkins

So, what do you think?  Pretty cheap, and pretty darn CUTE!! 

It's hard to believe these came from plastic bags!

Before and After DIY Pumpkins

And....I made these pumpkins super easy to disassemble and pack up afterwards.  Check it out!

Pumpkins disassembled

Each pumpkin easily comes off.  This makes it so easy to store away until next year.

DIY Outdoor Real Looking Pumpkins

2014 UPDATE!!  They did fantastic!! There was a tiny bit of mold between the bottom pumpkin and the middle one, but it cleaned up easy enough! Then I sprayed it again with the outdoor clear coat. Perfect! 

2016 UPDATE! 
Last year, I didn't clean them up so great after I brought them in and there was more mold....Here's what I did to fix them.  Check out this post, Falling Into Fall.

DIY Outdoor Pumpkins


09 10