I love decorating for fall and so I always grow some pumpkins in my garden.

But, I must admit that I also use a few ‘faux’ pumpkins as well when I decorate.

This year, I am very excited to be hosting our family’s annual Halloween party.  Mostly because we have the best neighborhood for trick-or-treating.

So, I have been trying to add to my Halloween decorations.  I visited our local craft store to buy a few extra ‘faux’ pumpkins and was shocked at how expensive they have become.  Even with a coupon, I left the store without buying any.

I went online to look at other options and maybe how to make a pumpkin.  After a bit of research – I decided to make paper mache pumpkins.

All it took was beach balls, twine, newspaper, flour, water, spray paint and a little piece of tree branch.

It all starts with a beach ball tied with twine.  You will need someone to help you hold the knot down with their finger as you tie it.

Gather 1-inch wide newspaper strips.

Prepare your paper-mache mix (1 part flour to 2 parts water).  It’s optional to add 1 teaspoon cinnamon to mask the ‘paper mache’ smell and 1 teaspoon salt which helps keep mold from forming on the paper mache.

 Mix together.  Add a single strip of newspaper to the paper-mache mixture and then gently wipe off the excess paper-mache mixture.

Apply strips to beach ball, overlapping.  Tear the strips to whatever size you need.

Allow to dry.  This will take longer in more humid areas.  I used a fan to help speed up the process.

Apply a total of 4 layers, allowing them to dry after applying each layer.

Paint with black spray paint and let dry.  This keeps the black and white colors of the newspaper from showing through the colored spray paint later.

Then spray paint with either orange or off-white paint.  (I used 2 coats).

Using a glue gun, glue a 1-inch piece of a tree branch for the stem. 


I am very happy with the results.

Although you can’t carve them – you can paint on a ‘jack-o-lantern’ face or just leave them plain.

It did take a couple of days to finish, factoring in the drying time.  Paper mache can be a bit messy, so I recommend wearing an apron and covering your work surface with plastic trash bags.

I hope you try it!

**Update – I made these paper mache pumpkins four years ago and they still look great!

Feel free to ‘Pin’ the image above to your Pinterest!

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

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