Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Creepy Chimera Decoupage Pumpkins

Despite my deep, maniacal love of Halloween, I have several issues concerning traditional Jack O’Lanterns:

1) They’re grody. Nothing is grosser than pumpkin guts – slimy and clingy and stinky. Then the kids always want me to go in and sort the seeds to roast, which is nasty, and anyway, roasted Jack O’Lantern seeds = not good…not worth it.

2) If you do it when you’re really in the mood to start decorating for the holiday (usually two weeks prior to Halloween) then they rot on the porch (whether you use that “anti-pumpkin-rot” spray or not) and become hideously deformed (not in a good creepy Halloween way either).

3) Unless you are able to do the entire carving process alone, as an adult, in a private studio where no kids are allowed to give their input – they come out mediocre. 

4) You also have to cut out your kids pieces (even if they are old enough to use the cute little saws and pokey tools) because they get so lazy and discouraged half-way through. By that point I am SO OVER Jack O’Lanterns that the craftsmanship gets really shabby.

THIS year, as the first year I’ve been doing this blog experiment, I came up with something different. Don’t get me wrong – this new approach was a hard sell with the buddy boys, but I finally convinced them they would be so impressed with the end result that they wouldn’t care about the missed pumpkin gutting. I think they just like that it’s the one time they can wield sharp instruments.


I compiled a little library of spooky vintage black and white art (some skeletons, some bats, some insects and some other objects like a top hat). I got all of my images (except the black widow) from The Graphics Fairy; a great provider of public domain vintage images.

Next I took them into Photoshop and cut out the black shapes; using --->Select --->Color Range (black)----->Cut---->Paste (on a new layer).

Then we had fun creating Chimeras (hybrid monsters using different animal parts; depicted in the art of various cultures since ancient times). 

A chameleon skeleton with horns and bat wings was my boys'  favorite (they fought over who'd use it on their pumpkin). I pasted (in Photoshop) brightly colored googly eyes on each creature at the end. 
We printed both positive versions; black on antique white (I added a bit of a parchment background) and “inversed” versions; white on black.

We painted some of the pumpkins antique white and some matte black (using acrylic paint from Hobby Lobby - $2.49 a bottle). 

Once the pumpkins were dry (just a half hour later), we cut around the printed images (about 1/4 inch around the outside of the image) and Mod Podged them onto the pumpkins.
[One note: a brush laden with Mod Podge in the hand of an overzealous child, may rub the acrylic paint off a little – you’ll either have to supervise gentleness, or touch up afterward.] 
For more weather proof pumpkins you could varnish them.

Because these pumpkins don’t glow, I added strings of orange lights around the patch when we put them on the porch. I think they’re masterpieces (and they’ll last at least until Halloween!). If you use synthetic pumpkins to do this they’ll last forever.

Original Graphics Fairy links to images used: SKULL, TARANTULA, BAT, CHAMELEON, GOOGLY EYES, HAND


  1. These turned out awesome!

    This week is my blog anniversary and I'm hosting a week's worth of great giveaways. Feel free to stop by if you'd like!

  2. Wow! These are wicked awesome! Love it! Like what else I see so I'm your newest follower!

  3. Love the Spooky (mess free) pumpkins- I will definitely try them this year! Thank you so much