Introduction: Jack-O-Lantern Head

Halloween! The spookiest night of the year, and the only acceptable reason to go beg your neighbors for candy! Despite being a favorite holiday, it can really sneak up on you. Before you can even realize it’s already mid-October, and you haven’t spared a thought to what you’re going to be for Halloween, and all the good costumes are already taken! Well you can’t go without, so it time to think. Why not take some inspiration from a holiday tradition, and carve yourself your very own Jack-O-Lantern head? It’s an easy project to do, and can be made exactly to your liking!


  • 17” round balloon
  • Flour
  • Water
  • News paper
  • Exact-o knife/box cutter
  • Acrylic paints
  • Sharpie
  • Air dry clay
  • Bowls
  • Tin foil
  • Masking tape

Step 1: Setting Up the Pumpkin

First step is to take the balloon, blowing it up to the desired size, taking into consideration how big the head hole is going to be. Measure the diameter of your head—you may need a friend for this part. With a sharpie, draw a circle on the balloon with the same diameter as your head around the tie of the balloon. This will later be the head hole.

Step 2: Prep

Cut the newspaper into long strips, around one to two inches wide. There will need to be a lot of strips to cover the balloon several times, so cut as many as you can ahead of time so you don’t have to stop in the middle of your work. It will also be helpful to have a variety of shapes and sizes, some shorter strips, and some that are more square shaped, for small areas that don’t require long pieces.

In a wide rimmed bowl or dish, mix equal parts water to flower to create a paper mache mixture. It should be the consistency of glue, both pasty and sort of runny.

Then set up your work station. This is a messy project, so it may help to lay down either a cut open trash bag or news papers to work on. It will also help to have some kind of stand to set the balloon down on while you work, so it doesn’t roll around. A bowl will work well for this. Put the cut news paper and paper mache mixture in reach.

Step 3: Paper Mache

Take a strip of newspaper, and cover it in the paper mache mixture, removing excess. It works best to lay it in the mix, flip it over, and then run it between two fingers to remove the extra. Now that the paper is wet, it will be more fragile, so be careful and try not to tug or rip it.

Lay the strip on the balloon, either vertical or horizontal, and smooth
it out over. Do not cover the area that you marked for your head. Repeat this process, finishing one even layer completely around the balloon. Once you have one layer finished, start on the second. You will do at least three to five layers of paper mache, so that it can be strong.

Let the head dry fully. This could take a full day.

Step 4: Cut Out Balloon

Once the layers are completely dry, cut out the balloon, if it hasn’t popped by itself already with the paper mache contracting.

Do not do this while it is wet, because if you do, the wet paper mache will have no form to hold onto, and will collapse in on itself.

Step 5: Molding

Take a wet sponge or rag, and rewet the top of the pumpkin head, so it become malleable again. Gently push it in, creating the divot that exists on most pumpkins. This will also be where the stem of the pumpkin will be placed later.

This can be tricky to make it look realistic, so be patient, and reference pictures of real pumpkins to get an idea of what it should look like.

Step 6: Create and Cut Out the Face

On a piece of paper, draw and cut out a stencil of the face you wish to make. Taping or holding it against the head, with a sharpie or marker, trace on the face. Take note of where your own face will be in the pumpkin head, so that the eye holes match up with your own, and you can see.

Now, with an exact-o knife or box cutter, cut out the face. It’s just like carving a real pumpkin, only this time you don’t have to scoop out the insides! Depending on how many layers you made, the blade with either cut through the paper mache easily, or will need some force. Be careful not to cut yourself, stitches on Halloween are only fun if they’re fake!

Step 7: Making the Stem

Now to create the stem with some air dry clay. First, take some tin foil, and create a core to mold the stem over. For this core, take a sheet of tin foil, and crush and mold it into a long tube shape. After that, fold it in half, so it has two “legs”. Make two of these, and one over the other, perpendicular, so there are four legs.

Now cover the core in clay, leaving at least two inches at the bottom uncovered. Mold it into the desired shape, fitting it to sit in the divot on top of the pumpkin. Cut a hole just big enough at the top of the pumpkin to snake the tin foil legs down through. Fold each leg in different directions over the inside, and use either paper mache or tape to hold it in place.

Step 8: Painting

Now to paint the pumpkin. How this is done is completely up to you! You can go traditional Jack-o-lantern head, with the orange, or go a little spookier with some black, or whatever you like! Reference pictures are a huge help, so don’t be afraid to do some Google searching!

Step 9: Hit the Streets and Get Some Candy!!!

You’ve done it! With a little time and effort, you have made yourself a one of a kind costume! Put on some fun clothes to match your funky new pumpkin head and have yourself a fantastic Halloween!