DIY Outdoor Real Looking Pumpkins

I can not believe how great these turned out!  They were so cheap 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.

DIY Outdoor Real Looking Pumpkins

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 ones 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!!!
DIY Outdoor Real Looking Pumpkins

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Paper mâché people!! That's what I did, then added on top of it a paper clay.  I found this Recipe for Paper Clay. It worked fabulous! For the paper mâché paste,  I just used flour and water and I did not cook it.  I read that the cooked method isn't necessarily stronger.

I started with this. Garbage bag, newspaper and masking tape.

supplies for pumpkins

I used the planter to get an idea of how big I wanted it.

gauging size for pumpkins

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! 

They took a day to dry. We were having some nice weather, when I started these, so that helped in the drying process. I did two layers of the paper mâché. Then I made the paper clay and started on that. The middle one has some paper clay on it.

Layer of paper clay on pumpkins

The paper clay took some getting used to.  I made the first batch too dry. I got the hang of it though, and used paper mâché paste to smooth it out as I was applying it. You can see how bumpy it was here. Not really the look I was going for....

Bumpy clay on pumpkins

By the end I pretty much got it all smoothed out.

Smoothed out pumpkins

Not bad. Now for the paint. I wanted 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.

Next, I needed to figure out how I was going to stack them. I wanted them to be secure, it get's pretty windy out there.

Assembling 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 just didn't want the pumpkins to sit in dirt or on wet dirt. Then I went to making holes in the pumpkins.

Creating holes through 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.

Stacked Pumpkins

Yay! Now for a little decorations and we're done!! I only used a little bit. I wanted it simple.

A few simple decorations

The grapevine garland only cost me about $3 at AC Moore. 

Next, I plugged in my glue gun and got to work! Here's a close up.

DIY Outdoor Real Looking Pumpkins

So, what do you think?  Pretty cheap, and pretty darn CUTE!!  I love my front porch!

DIY Outdoor Real Looking Pumpkins

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

Disassemble Stacked Pumpkins

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

Before and After Pumpkins

I want to make another set, but I think I'm going to wait and see how well this one holds up to the weather.  I'll definitely do an update at the end of fall.

DIY Outdoor Real Looking Pumpkins

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. Otherwise? Perfect! They look great out on my porch this fall.

Here's another UPDATE 2016! :)
Last year, I didn't clean them up so great after I brought them in and there was more mold....Here's where I fixed them!
Falling Into Fall Front Porch 

Oh, and as you can see, my Painted Welcome Mat still looks amazing!!