Time for a little fall DIY! Have you noticed that craft pumpkins can be super expensive, even when they are on sale? I find this to be a little crazy, and I refuse to spend a ton of money on craft pumpkins. I knew I wanted to have a ton of mid size white pumpkins and a few smaller blue pumpkins this year for projects all around my house. After searching at several stores, I couldn’t find what I was looking for without breaking the bank. So, I decided I would create these pumpkins using Dollar Tree styrofoam craft pumpkins. I had most of the materials needed for this project on hand, so it still ended up being significantly cheaper than buying pre-made pumpkins!
If you search “DIY dollar tree pumpkins” there are A TON of pins on pinterest about this. I read through a lot of those pins to make a game plan for my project. I pulled little tips and ideas from different pins, and also added my own technique to this project. I have linked some of the other blogs I found that inspired today’s post at the bottom of this blog! I also learned from a few trial and errors (see my instagram saved highlight lol) and I will add in what to do so that way you don’t waste time like me!
Okay… why are we spray painting the pumpkins brown?
Before I explain exactly what to do- let’s cover the burning question, shall we? Why on earth are we spray painting pumpkins brown if we want them to be neutral white and blue? This neon orange and metallic finish on the pumpkins can be very challenging to cover up. Last year, I didn’t plan on shading my pumpkins (as I am in this project with the white pumpkins), so I chose to just spray paint my orange pumpkins with white. I also used higher quality pumpkins from Hobby Lobby, so overall they were easier pumpkins to transform. Though this worked just fine, it took several coats of spray paint. If this is all you are looking to do this season, I would head to THIS post to read how I did it.
Knowing that these Dollar Tree pumpkins are a bright neon orange (and the smaller ones are metallic), I wanted to be sure the color would cover up, so the brown acts as a neutral base! I also just think spray paint is way easier than individually painting the pumpkins, which I had to do later with the chalk paint, and I’m all about time saving hacks!
- Mid and small size pumpkins from Dollar Tree
- canvas drop cloth, find it HERE
- Gloves, find it HERE
- Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover Spray Paint in Kona Brown, find it HERE
- Rust-Oleum Ultra Matte Linen White Chalked paint, find it HERE
- Dark cream color chalk paint, I used Annie Sloan’s Old Ochre
- Warm neutral brown chalk paint, I used Annie Sloan’s Coco
- Neutral blue/green chalk paint, I used Annie Sloan’s Duck Egg Blue
- Varying size paint brushes (I used chip brushes for the linen white/old ochre/duck egg blue, and smaller detail brushes for the coco and adding in highlights at the end)
*if you do not have chalk paint on hand, you can make your own! I would suggest using the chalk paint recipe by My Vintage Porch (I haven’t made it myself, but Natalie is usually spot on and I trust her). I also imagine you could use acrylic paints for this, it just might not have the same chalky look.
**before you start:
You need to decide what you are doing with the pumpkins stems! I put this decision off because I really didn’t know, which meant I had to go back later and it actually made it longer for me to complete this project. The reason you need to decided now is that you need to figure out if you should keep the stems on and spray paint them with the pumpkins or remove the stems and leave as is (don’t spray paint).
I will be giving directions to achieve the look I have in the blog, so feel free to adapt the steps to what you need!
Step 1: spray paint pumpkins + stems
Remove tags from all pumpkins, careful not to tear any of the styrofoam out while doing so. Carefully remove stems from the mid size and small pumpkins (I did not do this and wish I had, it would have saved me time). Lay pumpkins and stems on canvas drop cloth and spray paint all pumpkins and stems evenly with the Kona Brown spray paint. I did this outside and I used a glove on my left hand during this to protect my nails (gotta keep my fresh fall manicure looking pretty). I recommend spraying the top/sides of all pumpkins at first. After they have completely dried, turn pumpkins over and spray paint the bottoms. After this has dried, turn pumpkins back over and spray paint any areas where the orange is still bleeding through.
Step 2: chalk paint base coat
After pumpkins have completely dried, paint the first base coat. To help you paint the pumpkins without the stem to hold on to, place toothpicks in the top hole of each pumpkin. Use the Rust-Oleum linen white and a chip brush to cover the pumpkins. You will be going back over this, so it is okay a little brown is showing through, but you want to cover up as much as possible to provide an even base coat. Allow this to completely dry.
Note: I did not remove the stems from my mid size pumpkins (I really wish I had) so all of the photos will show the stems on the pumpkins already. Do not do this! Add you stems back at the end.
Step 3: For White Pumpkins
This is the fun part – you get to play with shading. Prep this part by having your paint cans open (if you are a stickler for chalk paint rules, you know that best practice is to pour the amount of paint you are using out, not dip straight from the can…. I don’t follow these rules lol). You should have access to the linen white, dark cream, and warm neutral brown. You will also want to have the following brushes for each color paint:
- Linen white – mid size brush and small detail brush
- dark cream – mid size brush and small detail brush
- warm neutral brown – small detail brush
You will work in sections as you do this! Start by painting a small section with the linen white using the mid size brush. Next, go back over this area while the linen white is wet with the dark cream paint. You will notice that this blends the two colors, but not completely so you still get the shading effect. Then, go in with the warm neutral brown and detail brush in the small crevices. Blend the brown using the detail brush.
Take a look at this section – do you need to add a light highlight with the linen white to brighten a section? Does an area need to be toned down with the dark cream? Did the brown get too blended and you need to add a little more in? Use your detail brushes and paint away until this section looks just the way you like it. Refer to my images below to see how I do this step!
Repeat, one small section at a time, until your pumpkin is finished! Let dry!
Step 3: For Blue Pumpkins
I chose not to shade my blue pumpkins after testing out the same technique above with the blue color. I just liked them more crisp! Feel free to do the same technique above with the blue color (just use your blue paint instead of the dark cream). But here’s how I DIYed my blue pumpkins:
After the original linen white coat has completely dried, paint a coat of the neutral blue/green on your pumpkin using a mid size chip brush. Once it has dried, do a second coat.
Step 4: Paint the small pumpkin stems + reinsert
Once the white pumpkins have dried, you can now reinsert the stems. They have been spray painted brown, so there is no need to do anything else to them! However, if you want them to have more of a matte look instead of glossy, you can paint the stems with an acrylic paint. I had to do this since I kept my stems on and got chalk paint on them. I mixed an espresso brown + black acrylic paint to achieve this color.
I wanted my blue pumpkins to have stems slightly different than the white, so I gave each stem a light layer of metallic gold acrylic paint. This did not completely cover the stems, so the brown still came through the gold. I really love how it turned out. Once the stems and pumpkins are dry, carefully reinsert the stems.
Caution: if you are pulling the stems in and out after you have already painted, there is definitely a risk of tearing the paint. This happened to one of my pumpkins, so I just glued the chipped area back and painted another layer of paint. Not terrible but if you can avoid this, I would!
Optional Step 5: seal for outdoor pumpkins
Stay tuned for this step… I will be doing this to my outdoor pumpkins this week and updating this blog post if it goes well! If you have a favorite matte outdoor sealer, let me know!
This project was so fun and I love the way the pumpkins turned out! I am using these pumpkins on my kitchen table, front door, and bookshelf. I’ll be sharing over the next couple of weeks the areas where I am using these to give you some design inspiration! Let me know if you plan to complete this farmhouse fall project!
Blogs that I found helpful in creating my own process to DIY these pumpkins:
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