With the arrival of darker evenings and autumn leaves comes my second favorite holiday (after Christmas, of course) of the year – Halloween!
I’m not one for parties and much prefer snuggling up with lots of treats and watching Hocus Pocus, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to get into the spirit for this delightfully spooky day.
I have lots of fond memories of Halloween as a child and a teen and every year since I can remember we have carved pumpkins as a way of warding off the vampires, undead and evil spirits more likely to be roaming on the frightful All Hallows’ Eve.
As always I’ll be doing it again this year, so thought it would be fitting to share a few creepy ideas that are easy for both adults and kids alike.
The Halloween celebrations seem to start earlier every year, with gloriously coloured gourds popping up all over as soon as we hit October. I sourced our pumpkins from two places this year – two lovely large ones from Blacker Hall Farm in Wakefield, and four adorably sized ones from ASDA. I’ll be carving the larger ones this weekend in preparation for lighting up our windows on Monday evening, so the designs below were all done last Saturday & Sunday and are still looking very fresh and ready for the day.
I wanted to do two styles of easy pumpkins – one that involves no carving at all, and one that involves part carving. Both designs took roughly one to two hours to complete (not including drying times if you’re not using a drying tool) and left minimal mess to clear up afterwards. You’ll notice that the instructions below don’t include pictures as I thought I’d try something a bit different this week and put together a time-lapse of each design being made…this is something that I enjoyed thoroughly, so watch this space for more videos in future.
Before you begin, you will need:
- Newspaper or something to protect your surfaces
Acrylic paint (side note, oil paints will NOT dry!)
If carving, you’ll need a sharp knife and a spoon – please be careful with sharp objects!
Varnish, if using
Step 1. Clean and dry the pumpkin thoroughly before starting.
Step 2. Mark out the ghost shapes and add the first layer of your base colour.
Step 3. Leave to dry before adding the second coat.
Step 4. Paint in the ghosts using different colours. I went for a shimmery white, purple and deep turquoise. I’d recommend using light, bright colours for the ghosts as the design doesn’t light up, so without any external light it’s hard to make out in the dark.
Step 5. Leave to dry or dry with a hairdryer, and add more coats as needed. I found mine needed two coats of the base colour in total, and two coats on the ghosts.
Step 6. Add a thin coat of varnish to seal the design. You don’t have to do this, however without I found that the paint transferred very easily and rubbed off when knocked.
Step 7. Allow to dry completely and draw on the ghostly faces.
Step 8. Display proudly in your window to ward off those wanderers. As there is no light source for this design, I’ll be surrounding it with matching ghostly fairy lights to make sure the eerie design can be seen.
Step 1: As with the ghost pumpkin, make sure it’s clean and dry before starting.
Step 2: Cut a small hole in the bottom, no bigger than four inches in diameter. Remember to save the disc that you cut out of the bottom, as the pumpkin will sit upright on this later on.
Step 3: Scoop out innards until no stringy, orange bits remain. If you can find a use for these then please do (spiced, roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious!)
Step 4: Mark holes for the stars using a pen and puncture. I used a metal skewer as it was quick and easy.
Step 5: Add your base coat to the pumpkin. I used black for the sky, pressing down hard with the brush so that some of the orange skin underneath peeped through. This provided a template for where to paint the space ‘clouds’.
Step 6: Add as many colours as you want to create a good space scene. I used maroon, blue, yellow and turquoise.
Step 7: Dry using a dryer, or leave overnight until completely dry. Touch up any of the base coat where necessary.
Step 8: Grab a paintbrush and some white paint, and flick the brush all over the pumpkin to create our ‘stars’.
Step 9: Allow to dry again and add a thin coat of varnish if using. I did, as the matte finish was quite dull.
Step 10: Add some lights or a candle. If you are using a candle, you’ll need to cut some air holes at the back of the design as mine wouldn’t stay lit with the lack of oxygen coming through the tiny star holes. Also, be sure to secure any naked flame!
There are so many designs that you could paint onto a pumpkin, so go wild and have fun! You’ll see at the end of the video below two other designs we tried out. The possibilities are endless, and however you end up celebrating, I hope you have a brilliantly chilling evening indeed.