Country living, DIY, & a Dash of Fun!

DIY Corpsed Foam Pumpkin

DIY Corpsed Foam Pumpkin-Video

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)

DIY Corpsed Foam Pumpkin Tutorial:

Want to print out this tutorial without the ads?

Click here to download my DIY Corpsed Foam Pumpkin PDF Printable Tutorial for only $5!

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)

Basic Supplies:

  • Painter’s plastic (to cover table for easy cleanup)
  • Dremel drill with a carving blade
  • 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
  • Sharpie
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Wire Cutters
  • Disposable dish or bowl for mixing paint
  • Various sized paintbrushes
  • Newspaper

Pumpkin Supplies:

  •  1 – 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).
  • 2-Jack-O-Lantern face pattern for tracing & carving pumpkin if you don’t want to draw your own.
    • (I found mine on the internet, enlarged it to the size I wanted, then printed it out on 2 sheets of paper).
  • 3-Acrylic matte paint
    • I used the following colors:  pumpkin orange, black, brown, & dark green.
  • 4-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.
  • 5-Container to mix paint
  • 6-Bag of cotton balls
  • 7-Spool of wire (12-18 gauge)
    • It has to be stiff enough to hold it’s own shape with wet newspaper hanging from it.
  • 8-Wire cutters
  • 9-Old Newspaper
  • 10-Paintbrushes
  • 11-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.
  • 12-Marine Varnish (for waterproofing)
  • 13-Clear Coat Spray Paint (matte or satin)

Pictures of Pumpkin Supplies:

DIY Corpsed Foam Pumpkin Directions:

Tracing and Cutting out the Jack-O-Lantern.

First, cut out the face pattern of your choice and tape it onto the pumpkin. I didn’t have a stencil so I just found a picture of a scary one I liked, blew it up larger, then traced it onto my pumpkin.

Next, trace around the pattern with a sharpie.

Now it’s time to cut out your jack-o’-lantern. I used a Dremel drill for this part.

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.

First, gather all the supplies shown below:

Be sure to cover your work area with painter’s plastic for easy cleanup.  This process is MESSY!

Shaping the Stem:

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).  Then, I shaped the wire how I pictured a long, gnarled stem would look like.

Since I wanted some more curly ‘tendrils’ coming off the stem, I cut a few more pieces of wire, shaped them, then pushed them into the base of the stem.

Adding Paper Mache:

Next, I made a paper mache paste with glue and water.  I found using a ratio of about one 225ml bottle of glue for every 3 Cups of water worked pretty well.  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.

Adding the cotton balls:

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 by 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!

Note: 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!

Adding Bondo Fiberglass Resin:

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.

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.

Let dry.

Painting pumpkin:

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.

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.

Adding Light:

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.

He’s ready!  Light him up!

Want to print out this tutorial without the ads?

Click here to download my DIY Corpsed Foam Pumpkin PDF Printable Tutorial for only $5!

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.

Feel free to comment!  I love to hear from you!

DIY Corpsed Foam Pumpkin


DIY Giant Corn Stalker Scarecrow


DIY Disemboweled Jack-O-Lanterns


  1. Dena Scribner

    I can’t wait to try this tomorrow. Thank u so much.

    • Tee

      Awesome Dena!
      I’m sure yours will turn out great!

    • Annette

      This is awesome. I’m almost done mine and made pretty much exactly like yours.
      This will be used on my haunted walk I have in my back 40.
      Thanks so much for the very detailed instructions.

      • Tee

        Hi Annette!
        Ohhhhh, your pumpkin looks great!!! You did a fantastic job!!! …and just in time as Halloween is just right around the corner 😉

  2. Kristen Stokely

    Hi Tee!

    I absolutely love your “Jack”. I won’t make mine this year, but it will definitely be the very first thing I do for Halloween next year. My daughter will be having a big party and this would be amazing to greet everyone as they arrive. Thanks for this idea! Oh…btw your other ideas look awesome too!

    • Tee

      Hi Kristen!

      Glad you like ‘Jack’! He is definitely a sight to see in person…you’ll love having your own version at next year’s party to greet the guests!

      • Susie Q

        Your tutorial is the bomb! So detailed and the pictures are a great help. Can’t wait to try to make it next year. Thank a million!!!

  3. Sam Averett


  4. Nancy Onyett

    A great idea I had old paper mache pumpkins made with ridges . I just inserted the stem and tendrils will post when done

  5. This is AMAZING. I Love how you explained (also with the added pictures) every single detail. I’m going to try this. Thank you so much for sharing your talent. 💕

  6. Mike

    This is awesome! Thanks for sharing. Did you coat the inside of the pumpkin with anything to preserve it?

    • Tee

      Hi Mike, No, I didn’t seal the inside because it wasn’t painted and I wasn’t worried if it got wet. It might be a good idea to coat the inside too, though.

  7. Lynn

    I love this! Thank you for taking the time to share this with us! I have a question for you. Have u thought about using great stuff instead of cotton balls? I know it expands when u spray but just wondering.

    • Tee

      Hi Lynn, Yes, I have thought about but haven’t used it yet for this reason. When you apply it, the stuff keeps expanding and expanding and expanding and there is not a lot of control. I may try it on my next one, though, and see if I can learn how to shape it better. If you used it, please let me know. Thanks for your comments!

  8. Ashley

    Do you do the 3 coats of Bondo resin before AND after the black paint? Or just before?

    • Tee

      Either way would work. My next one I will Bondo it first, then completely paint it, but it really doesn’t matter as long as you finish it with the Spar waterproofing varnish.

  9. Patty

    Fantastic Imagination 💭… Thank You So Very Much for Sharing… 👍🏻 Patty*

  10. David

    Hey Tee! You did a wonderful job overall, the pics, the material used, and the steps! I’m in the process of doing a Sleep Hollow Scarecrow this year and have been looking for the right pumpkin! Selections are poor this year for what I have in mind. Seeing this site has given me more options/ideas and appreciate your post!
    A couple of questions –
    1. how long did it take to do the pumpkin?
    2. How did you attach the pumpkin to the scarecrow’s

    • Tee

      Hi David!
      Thank you so much, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post! It took me about 3 days to make the pumpkin as I had to let it all dry in-between steps. As for attaching the pumpkin to the body, I explain all that in my Giant Corn Stalker Scarecrow Tutorial found HERE.
      You’ll have to upload some pics of your scarecrow in this comment section when you’re done, as I’d love to see it!!!

  11. Nicole

    This is awesome. Thank you for the detailed step by step with a list of items used, I’m in the process of trying to make mine, they are going to go on the gate pillars to our house.

    • Tee

      Thank you, Nicole! I’m glad you like it! Post a picture of your creation when you finish it! I would LOVE to see it!

  12. Nadine

    This is amazing! I can’t find a stencil even remotely as cool. Do you by chance remember where it is on the Internet? Thank you so much!

    • Tee

      Hi Nadine, I didn’t use a stencil because I couldn’t find any I liked either. I suggest finding a scary picture of a jack-o’-lantern that you like (there are lots of them out there) then blow it up, print it, cut it out, then trace it onto your pumpkin. You could print a copy of just the face of our pumpkin and blow it up.

      • Nadine

        Awesome! You’re so dang talented/creative! Thank you so much!!!
        Ps, did you dye the burlap to get the contrasting colors? I was think about soaking some of the strands water w/teabags.

        Thank you so much for the reply! Been checking all day! LOL


        • Tee

          Hi Nadine,
          No, I did not dye any of the burlap, but the burlap I had was old and previously used by landscapers. You could dye some of your burlap for contrast, if you wanted. I did use some varying colors of loosely woven Halloween cloth that you can find in most stores that carry Halloween items.

  13. Barbara Lackenbauer

    This pumpkin is fantastic and I am going to try it soon for Halloween.
    The pumpkin will sure match our 7 ft animated and talking corn stalker my husband puts on our front porch. I even bought vine arms and feet for this pumpkin to sit on a chair or a bail of straw. We have a long porch on our house and one side is the Corn Stalker and the other is my Witches. I also have made a witches face out of paper mache and then added her dress and hands to hang on our front doo. I also made a withes sign to hang from our front porch. We love Halloween.

    • Tee

      Hi Barbara,
      Oh yes, the corpsed foam pumpkin corn stalker will look great with your animated one!!! You’ll have to post pics when you finish it!!!

  14. Barbara Lackenbauer

    As I mentioned that one side of our porch is my witches. Here is the witch I made from a clear mask and added paper machine to make her. I hope you enjoy it. Barbara Lackenbauer.

  15. Barbara Lackenbauer

    Here is a picture of our house on Halloween. Enjoy. Barbara Lackenbauer.

    • Tee

      Loving your house all decked out!!! I always feel like a kid again when decorating for Halloween!!!

  16. Sunny

    We just moved into a new neighborhood and I can’t WAIT to make this this year… we’ve always done more decorating for Halloween than Christmas …I am so excited to add this guy to our yard!! Thanks for the great directions!! I think even “I” can make it with all the helpful hints you gave.

    • Tee

      Hi Sunny,
      I know what you mean about going ‘all out’ with decorating for Halloween!!! It brings out the kid in all of us! You’ll have to post pics of your corpsed foam pumpkin when you’re finished !!!

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