DIY Corpsed Foam Pumpkin
So, what do you think? Can you believe this is awesome, ominous-looking jack-o-lantern was actually made out of a plain ordinary foam pumpkin? These corpsed pumpkins are the perfect prop for anyone to add a lots of creepiness to their yard or haunt on Halloween. Best of all, no two corpsed pumpkins are alike. If you follow these directions, you too can have a one-of-a-kind, spooky Jack-O-Lantern prop that your neighbors will be envious of.
I used my corpsed pumpkin as the head of my Giant Corn Stalker Scarecrow shown below. (Make sure to see my Giant Corn Stalker Scarecrow Tutorial)
Tools & Supplies:
(If you’re corpsed pumpkin is going to be used as the head of my Giant Corn Stalker Scarecrow, you’ll need to use a 2in diameter hole saw to cut the light hole at the bottom of the pumpkin)
- Painter’s plastic (to cover table for easy cleanup)
- A dremel drill with a carving blade
- A large flat container to dip newspaper into glue mixture (A paint roller tray works great)
- Disposable cup & spoon to mix bondo in
- Paper Towels
- Box of toothpicks
- One artificial foam carvable pumpkin. Mine was a ‘Funkin’ at approx 15W x 17H that I found at Hobby Lobby at last year’s ‘end of season’ sale, but you can also buy it at the Funkin site HERE. If you want a variety of shapes and sizes to choose from you can go to the Funkin site HERE).
- Jack-O-Lantern face pattern for tracing & carving pumpkin (I found mine on the internet, enlarged it to the size I wanted, then printed it out on 2 sheets of paper).
- Acrylic matte paint (I used a pumpkin orange, black, brown, & dark green)
- Elmer’s glue (I bought about 7 or 8 225ml sized bottles) You’ll be making a paper mache paste with glue and water. The ratio I used was about 1 bottle of glue for every 3c of water.
- Disposable dish or bowl for mixing paint
- Bag of cotton balls
- Spool of wire (12-18 gauge) It has to be stiff enough to hold it’s own shape with wet newspaper hanging from it.
- Wire cutters
- Various sized paintbrushes
- Bondo resin (You’ll also need hardener drops to mix with the resin to harden (This usually comes with the resin when you buy it)
- Marine Varnish (for waterproofing)
- Clear Coat (matte or satin)
Tracing and Cutting out the Jack-O-Lantern.
Cut out the face pattern of your choice and tape it onto the pumpkin.
Trace around the pattern with a sharpie
I used a dremel drill to cut out the face.
Corpsing the Pumpkin:
To sum up the process of making a corpsed foam pumpkin, it’s basically paper mache, then a hardener is added (for sturdiness), then it’s painted, and lastly waterproofed.
Gather all the supplies shown below:
Be sure to cover your work area with painter’s plastic for easy cleanup. This process is MESSY!
First, I started with the stem as I wanted one to look gnarled, long and menacing. To do this, I doubled up a piece of wire and pushed one end into the stem of my pumpkin (push it in enough so that it’s sturdy). I then shaped the wire how I pictured a long, gnarled stem would look like.
I wanted some more curly ‘tendrils’ coming off the stem so I cut a few more pieces of wire, shaped them, then pushed them into the base of the stem.
Next, I made a paper mache paste with glue and water. The ratio I used was about one 225ml bottle of glue for every 3 Cups of water. The mixture was easier to work with if it was a little more watery than thick. To start out, I didn’t make one huge batch…I added a couple bottles of glue with the water mixture and just kept replenishing the mixture as I used it. This way you won’t make more than you need.
Cut up the newspaper into strips and dip them into the glue mixture
Squeeze off the excess glue with your fingers and wrap the strips tightly around the wire. (I found that the looser the strips are when you wrap them, the more they want to just slide right off)
Keep adding layers until your gnarled ‘stem’ is to the thickness that you want it.
Now lets add some depth and character to the pumpkin that gives it that lumpy, creepy look. To do this you’ll need your cotton balls.
Stretch the cotton balls into strips. (After a while I found that my cotton balls actually unrolled, which made it easier)
Dip them into the glue mixture.
Basically if there is too much glue, the cotton will slide off of the pumpkin, but if there is too little, it won’t stick at all (it’s a balance that you’ll get the hang of once you start). I found that after dipping the strips of cotton into the glue, then laying them out onto a paper towel to soak up some of the excess, worked best for me.
Start layering the cotton around the base of the stem.
I found that wrapping the cotton strips around the long stem (like a spiral) worked best
Make sure to wrap strips around those tendrils! Allow one part of each tendril to touch the pumpkin. This will give it more strength. (One tendril is a little more fragile than the others because there is no support).
After that, I added some cotton strips around his eyes to give some depth and texture.
After a little while I noticed the strips started to slide down so I pushed toothpicks underneath the strips to hold them up
I added some ‘wrinkles’ on the forehead in-between the eyes, and also some strips here and there around his mouth.
Now just let him dry. You can pull out the toothpicks also (if they don’t pull out you can simply break them off). At this point he kind of looked like a clown, but that all changed once he was painted!
Here is were I recommend painting on the Bondo Fiberglass Resin (I tried painting him black but a couple of tendrils were very unstable). Three coats of Bondo really did the trick, letting it dry between coats. This stuff really hardened him up good and it stabilized the tendrils really well. After the resin is completely dry (we waited 1 day), I would now recommend painting your pumpkin. Starting with black, I painted a semi thin layer of black all over my pumpkin. I found that watering down the black paint with a splash of water worked best.
After he dried, I brushed on 3 coats of bondo all over my pumpkin to make the delicate parts (like the stem) sturdy.
Pour the resin into a disposable cup (I poured about 1 1/8c)
Add the hardener. Basically, just follow the directions on the can of resin of how many drops you’ll need for. Honestly, I just added about 40 or 50 drops (which is probably a little more than it needed, but I’m impatient) and it worked just fine. (FYI-The more drops you add, the faster it hardens)
Stir it all up with a disposable spoon
Simply brush it onto the pumpkin, letting it dry in-between coats. (Remember, you’ll need to put on 3 coats to make him sturdy.
Time to paint him to look like a pumpkin! I mixed up some orange paint with a little brown paint to get this dingy-looking orange.
I then dry-brushed the paint onto the pumpkin. You want to paint it on a little thin so that the black paint shows through a bit.
Then I mixed up some brown paint with a little black paint to get this dark brown color.
I dry-brushed this color onto the stem. Again, make sure to let some of the black paint show through)
For fun I mixed a little green and black paint together and brushed it on here and there onto the stem
To waterproof the whole thing, I brushed on 3 coats of marine varnish, making sure to let the pumpkin dry in-between coats)
Last of all, I sprayed my pumpkin with a clear matte or satin coating to get rid of the shine that the marine varnish had given it.
Cut a hole in the bottom so you can add a light. If you’re corpsed pumpkin is going to be used as the head of my Giant Corn Stalker Scarecrow, you’ll need to use a 2in diameter hole saw to cut the hole.
Light him up!
If you’re making my Giant Corn Stalker Scarecrow, your pumpkin head is now complete. Click HERE to go to my Giant Corn Stalker Scarecrow Tutorial.
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