This season, two trends are dominating fall decor: velvet pumpkins and upcycled styrofoam pumpkins from the dollar store. I’ve put my First Day of Home spin on the dollar store pumpkin craze, too! Today, I’ll show you exactly how to upcycle plain pumpkins with paint and decoupage.
Now, let’s get started with these DIY projects!
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Supplies for Painted Foam Pumpkins
For this project, you’ll need just a few basic supplies. This is a great opportunity to reuse existing paint colors!
- Foam pumpkins (Where to buy: Dollar Tree or other dollar store)
- Acrylic paints, chalk paint or latex paint in your desired color. I found that this chalk paint from FolkArt worked well as a primer coat.
- Paint brushes (foam brush or bristle brush)
- Natural wood for stems (optional)
- Kitchen sponge (optional)
- Decorative ribbon or fabric (optional)
Steps for Painted Foam Pumpkin
Step 1: Prime the faux pumpkin with a base coat of paint
Before painting the pumpkins in your desired color, remove all foam stems. Then, apply 1-2 coats of thick chalk paint or another light-colored paint.
(This helps disguise the original orange color of the pumpkins.)
Step 2: Paint pumpkins in desired color
You can play with several colors to lighten or darken your paints until you find a tone that you like.
The chalk paint from the first step can also help lighten other colors as needed. I chose light teal and rust colors to coordinate with my living room decor.
For best results, wait about two hours in between coats of paint.
Step 3: Apply metallic paint or darker color accent to pumpkins
As a final touch, you can use a sponge or brush to apply accent paint onto the pumpkins.
In my case, adding gold metallic paint gave the pumpkins more depth and texture. Since I decided to paint a few other dollar store gourds in gold paint, the collection hung together nicely.
Step 4: Prepare stems of pumpkins
For stems, I collected twigs from our local community park. You can use any type of stem that strikes your fancy.
If you choose to use wooden stems, place the stems in the oven at a low temperature (200 degrees or so) to dry them out and get rid of any small critters. Once the stems are sufficiently toasted, you can gently insert them into your pumpkins.
Did you know you can also keep real pumpkin stems for future craft projects? Just make sure you remove all raw pumpkin flesh, and store the stems in a dry place for several weeks.
Supplies for Decoupage Pumpkin
You’ll need only a few ingredients to make decoupage pumpkins. As always, feel free to add other adornments, like ribbon, beads or raffia, if desired.
Steps for Decoupage Pumpkins
Step 1: Apply base coat of paint
Before applying the first layer of Mod Podge, coat the foam pumpkin in paint, just like in step 1 above for the painted pumpkins.
Step 2: Tear scrapbook paper into small pieces
Create small strips of paper that will easily bend and curve around the foam pumpkins. The thicker the scrapbook paper, the smaller you will want your strips for the decoupage pumpkin.
Step 3: Apply glue to pumpkin, then seal
Apply Mod Podge to a small section of the painted pumpkin, and then place strips of paper to cover. After placing each strip, apply Mod Podge again to seal the strip in place.
Continue to decoupage until you have covered half of the pumpkin. Then, allow the pumpkin to dry before continuing to decoupage the rest.
Final Look at Upcycled Foam Pumpkins
You can add whatever bling you like to your upcycled pumpkins. I found an adorable set of mini wooden fall leaves that I placed at the base of my stems. Try adding these to your Halloween decor next to jack-o’-lanterns or plain white pumpkins.
Looking for more decoupage projects? Check out my full tutorial for how to decoupage on wood!
Here are a few more views of both the painted pumpkin and decoupage pumpkin on display by my fireplace.
Do you have plans to upcycle some ugly pumpkins with paint or decoupage this year? Tell me about it in the comments below!
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- Foam pumpkin
- Acrylic paint or chalk paint in 1 light color for primer coat and 1 desired color for top coat
- Gold/metallic colored paint for highlights (optional)
- Natural wood stem or faux pumpkin stem
- Kitchen sponge
- Decorative ribbon (optional)
- Paint brush
- Prime the pumpkin by painting 1-2 coats of white or light-colored paint. Let dry 1-2 hours.
- Apply top coat of paint and let dry.
- Wet part of the sponge, pat dry and then dip it into gold/metallic paint. Dab off excess paint and then pounce the sponge onto the pumpkin. This gives a soft highlighted effect to the pumpkin.
- After pumpkin is completely dry, insert ribbon (optional) and stem into center of pumpkin.
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- Foam pumpkin
- Acrylic paint (optional)
- Scrapbook paper
- Mod Podge
- Sticks or faux pumpkin stems
- Paint brush
- Remove the original pumpkin stem, and apply base coat of paint to completely cover the pumpkin (optional). Let dry.
- Tear scrapbook paper into small 1-2 inch squares.
- Apply decoupage glue to pumpkin, then layer on the pieces of paper in overlapping pattern. Cover half the pumpkin with paper strips, then apply a top coat of Mod Podge and let dry 15-20 minutes before finishing the remainder.
- Insert a stick or faux stem in the center of pumpkin.
You may need to adjust the size of your paper strips depending on the size and curves of your pumpkin. Curvier pumpkins might require smaller strips to form to the shape evenly.