I've been carving pumpkins every single Halloween since I was a kid. Usually I choose some extravagant pattern that takes hours to carve only to see my pumpkin collapse and rot in a few days. This year I wanted to try something a little bit less time-consuming but still awesome. The Creepy Hands pumpkin was super easy to carve, extremely forgiving of mistakes, and was definitely worthy of display on my porch!
There are two parts to the pumpkin: the polymer clay hands and the pumpkin carving. Start with the hands, so while they bake, you can get to work on the pumpkin. If I wasn't taking photos, I'd say the pumpkin took me about an hour! Not bad!
Materials and supplies you'll need:
- 2 packages (2 oz) green polymer clay (picture shows 3 packages but I only used 2)
- 1 package (2 oz) white polymer clay
- Black paint pen or Sharpie
- Oven-safe pan (or something else with a curved edge)
- An oven
- A pumpkin
- Some knives
- Bobby pins and wire cutter (optional, for repairs)
- Trash bags or newspapers (anything to help keep your carving area clean)
- A candle
P.S. I'm sorry some of the photos are upside down! The photo editor is not working right now, so I'll have to wait to rotate them when the editor is working.
Step 1: Preheat Your Oven to 275!
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F.
Step 2: Roll Out the Clay Fingers
Before all else, cover your table/work surface with foil! This will help protect your table, and you can use the foil later when you bake the clay.
Polymer clay is super easy to work with....as long as it has been conditioned. That's the tricky part! The goal is to physically warm the clay, so I actually recommend sitting on the clay, putting it in your pocket, or holding it for a while. That'll make kneading it easier. Once the clay is warm and a little more pliable, use your palm to press it into the table, roll it, smoosh it -- anything to get the clay soft. Try to use your palms rather than your fingers to condition. It's a little less painful. YouTube hs a bunch of helpful tips and tricks.
Once the clay is warm and pliable and happy, roll it out into 8 long cylinders for fingers. Mine were about 5 inches long and 3/8 inches in diameter. Vary the length a little bit depending on the finger.
So where's the thumb?? Turns out, we don't need to make thumbs! The monster is pulling the pumpkin open from the inside, so we only see its fingers, no thumbs.
Step 3: Squish the Knuckles
Give the fingers some dimension by creating knuckles. Hold the clay cylinder between your index finger and thumb on both sides of the spot where you would like to create a knuckle. Push your fingers toward one another to create a bulge. Do this for all of the fingers. Voila, you have knuckles!
Step 4: Assemble the Hands
Roll out a rectangle as wide as 5 monster fingers and as tall as 2. Lay your index monster finger (or pinky, depending on which side you're starting from) on the edge of the rectangle, and wrap the edge around the finger. Smoosh the rectangle and finger together to bond the clay.
You're going to do the same thing for the other outer finger, but the middle two fingers are a little different. Place the finger on the rectangle, the fold the free clay (that's not attached to the previous fingers) over the finger. Smoosh that down, then fold the rectangle back over itself an into its original position. Smoosh and smooth out the finger again. If you start to run out of clay for the rectangle, just smoosh the clay from the previous fingers to redistribute it.
Step 5: Add the Nails
Roll out the white clay very thin (about 1/16 inches or less). Then use a knife to cut out a curved triangle for a nail. Use the knife tip to score the backside of the nail (make the clay surface rough for better attachment), and score the tip of the monster finger. Press the nail onto the monster finger, and press against the sides of the nail to shape it. Do this for all of the fingers.
Step 6: Add Knuckle Texture
Using your fingernail, create light indentation lines on each of the monster knuckles for texture. Adjust the shape of the hands as needed. This is the last clay-working step before baking the clay.
Step 7: Prep the Hands for Baking
Find an oven-safe pan (or anything else with a curve, like a deep Pyrex dish), flip it upside-down, and cover the bottom with the foil you've been working on. Place the hands on the edge of the pan and shape them so they appear to be grabbing onto the pan.
Step 8: Bake the Hands
Bake the hands in 275 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Start checking on them at about 18 minutes. You want to bake them until they are hard and no longer pliable.
Step 9: Start Carving Your Pumpkin
Make sure you set up newspapers or trash bags or tarps to protect your work surface. Start by cutting open the top of the pumpkin and cleaning it out. Try to scrape your walls thin to make carving easier.
Cut a large opening in the front of your pumpkin that resembles an eye. Then cut thin branches off of this large shape. None of these cuts need to be perfect! In fact, the messier the better. You're trying to recreate a monster pulling the pumpkin apart -- that wouldn't look pretty. So just cut away, have fun, and get creative!
Step 10: Some Carving Ideas and Tips
These are some pictures of my pumpkin in case you wanted to get some ideas for carving the cracks. Try multiple cracks to really get that light shining through.
In order to get the most light through the holes, the inside outline of the carving needs to be a little wider than the outside outline. The also creates cleaner lines, so you won't see the pumpkin wall from the outside of the pumpkin. You can do this by either cutting at an angle with the knife handle leaning towards the inside of the hole or by adjusting the wall afterwards (last 3 pictures).
Step 11: Patch Up Any Boo-boos
When I was carving, I got a little carried away and took out a chunk of pumpkin that wasn't supposed to go. But I just used bobby pins to fix it. Cut a bobby pin in half and shove one half into the side of the pumpkin wall where the hole is. Shove the other half of the bobby pin into the other side of the wall. Then slide the missing pumpkin chunk back on.
Step 12: Finishing Touches on the Hands
Now that the pumpkin is done, it's time to finish up the hands. Using the paint pen or Sharpie, accent the hands by tracing over knuckle textures out by partially outlining the nails.
Step 13: Insert the Hands Into the Pumpkin
I was able to attach the hands to the pumpkin just by wedging them down into the tapered end of the hole. You should be able to do the same, but if that doesn't work, try epoxy or Gorilla Glue
Step 14: Revel in Your Creation
Once you throw a candle in your pumpkin. you can sit back and enjoy your masterpiece!