Introduction: Pennywise Pumpkin

About: Maker educator using tools to teach kids to be independent creative thinkers!

This pumpkin was inspired by a painted white fantasy pumpkin I saw online. Every year I make my friend's Halloween costume, but because this year Halloween is...different...I decided I'd make him a pumpkin instead. He's into "IT" and Pennywise and all that other scary stuff. I thought a painted pumpkin would be perfect. Then I thought a painted foam pumpkin would last longer. THEN I thought...what if I made the eyes animatronic? And then the pumpkin would have to be dimensional...and here we are. The cool effects on this pumpkin are all thanks to an Adafruit Monster M4sk. The parts aren't cheap, and this isn't a quick build, but I think the end result is worth it. For the entire project you will need the following items and tools. I'm listing them in the order I used them, links are for reference, feel free to sub tools and materials with what you're most comfortable with.


Foam pumpkin

Thin permanent marker

Canary cutter

Dremel rotary tool and attachments

Aluminum foil

Hot glue gun

Hot glue

Air dry clay

Soft white spray paint

Acrylic paints

Paintbrushes in various sizes

Monster M4sk:


Connecting cable:


Plastic eye lens:

Push pins

Small rubber bands

Orange boa:

Step 1: Draw Your Design

Full disclosure, I've never seen the "IT" films. I actually don't like scary all. So I needed to go to the internet for inspiration. I found a photo of Pennywise that showed the details on his face, and a really good shot of those horrifying teeth. I just freehanded my drawing using a pencil first, and then went over it in sharpie once I was happy with the results. Don't worry about mistakes. We're going to cover the whole face with clay in a few steps, and you're going to spray paint the entire pumpkin, and then paint. So any errors you make will be covered up. Be sure and start your drawing far enough down from the crown to leave room for that hair. If there's enough interest in a design file, I can try and draw something up as a template. Leave me a note in the comments if you're interested.

Step 2: Carve!

The next step is to carve the pumpkin. Start by drawing a notched circle around the stem. You want the opening to be wide enough for your hand and a hot glue gun to get in without too much trouble, but not so wide you're taking away valuable hair space.

I used the canary cutter to cut out the top. For the eyes and mouth I used a combination of canary cutter and rotary tool.

To cut out the eyes, place the plastic eye dome piece over your eye drawing. Try and center your eye in the dome, and trace around the outside. Using the dremel, follow your circle but stay inside the line about an eighth of an inch. This is better visualized than described so see above. We don't want the eye to pop all the way through. Once you've made a pass with the dremel, use the canary cutter to remove the eye completely. Test your fit with the eye piece on the back side. Don't worry if the placement isn't flush. Carefully use the sanding bit on the dremel to make angle the eye opening on the inside. This will help the eye piece lay flat. Go slowly, and don't worry too much if you make a mistake. We can build errors back up using the clay.

Repeat the above process for the other eye.

Cut the mouth out by carving along the inside of your lips drawing with the dremel. Finish the cut using the canary cutter. Keep the cutouts for reference, we'll need them for sculpting teeth and painting.

Step 3: Sculpt

This next part is a bit tricky. Air dry clay dries fairly quickly, but stays malleable as long as you have water on hand.

Start by shaping the tin foil into rough approximations of the facial features you drew on the pumpkin. They don't need to be perfect, but should follow your drawing fairly closely. The smoother the shapes you create, the less clay you will need to fill in voids in the foil later.

Glue the facial features on using the hot glue gun. I started with the nose and built up around the face from there.

Once the foil is attached you can start adding clay. I started with the forehead and worked my way down the face. I used a small bit of clay at time, rolled it flat in my hands and then smoothed it over the foil, using water to ease the creases as I went. You can add definition and facial features using clay tools if you have them, or the back end of a paintbrush like I did if you don't.

Be sure to cover the gaps between the foil and the pumpkin with clay as well, it's okay if you miss a few spots, but you want the clay to help join the foil to the pumpkin.

When you're done with the face, leave the pumpkin somewhere to dry where it won't be disturbed. You can sculpt the teeth and eye lids separately and leave them to dry as well. You don't need the teeth to be perfectly pointy. We'll grind them to shape using a dremel after the pieces have all dried. Air dry clay should dry for 24-48 hours before you continue working with it. Make sure it is completely dry before you continue on to the next step.

Step 4: Shaping and Gluing the Teeth and Eyelids

After your pumpkin and teeth have COMPLETELY DRIED, you can start to sand and shape the teeth.

This part is really dusty, so I highly recommend a mask if you have one (which of course you should right now) and protective eyewear. I'm not wearing one in that photo because I wasn't actually doing anything.

With the dremel on its lowest speed using a sanding drum, grind and shape the teeth into points. Be careful holding the pieces in your hand. With the dremel on its lowest speed you probably won't hurt yourself too badly but you can definitely get a friction burn from the sand paper. I ground the teeth into points, giving them a curve at the back to try and better match the photo. I ground the bases flat as well to help with gluing them into the mouth.

Using the cutout we saved for reference and a hot glue gun, begin gluing your teeth. I started with the bottom jaw and the back row. If you don't like the placement you can wiggle them loose and reposition them. I tried to put the larger teeth toward the center and the smaller teeth around the edges. When you're happy with the placement of the bottom teeth, flip the pumpkin over and repeat the process with the top teeth.

Next, I used some hot glue around the base of the teeth to create the illusion of gums, while also securing the teeth in place. Just do a quick squeeze around the bases and turn the pumpkin to get gravity to help you fill in the gaps.

Gently sand the eyelids if you need to and glue them into place. I didn't take photos of this part, I'm sorry, but you can imagine where the eyelids go. Again, if you make a mistake you can always wiggle them loose and re-glue. Hot glue is very forgiving that way.

Step 5: Sand and Spray

Using some super fine sandpaper, smooth the face of your pumpkin and fix any bumps or errors in your clay. Blow off the dust or wipe down with a damp cloth before proceeding to the next step. Be sure the clay has completely dried before you spray paint.

When your teeth are all glued in place, and the face is sanded to the texture you want find a well ventilated area to spray your pumpkin. Again, eye protection, mask and gloves for this step. Coat the whole exterior of the pumpkin, being sure to get inside the eye sockets and the gums and teeth. Don't forget to spray the lid as well. Mask off the stem of the pumpkin to keep it the original color before you spray the rest. Give the pumpkin two-three coats over several hours, letting it dry in between coats.

Step 6: Paint and Seal

Paint your scary Pennywise face using acrylics and a series of small brushes. The majority of the face is white, so that coat of spray paint will do just fine. I gave the teeth a yellow sheen because there's nothing scarier in this world than bad dental hygiene. Use a reference image as a guide, and a pencil to draw on areas of detail before you paint if that helps. Don't worry if you make a mistake, acrylic paints are water washable, and you can always paint it white and paint over it again. Have fun with this part, give your clown some personality!

When you're sure you are finished painting, let the acrylics dry completely, ideally overnight. When the paint is all set, return to your spray area and give the pumpkin a few coats with a matte sealant. I used a Rustoleum spray sealant. This will help your paint last longer and give it a bit of waterproofing.

Step 7: Wiring Up the Monster M4sk and Installing the Eyes

Adafruit has an excellent tutorial on this, so I'm going to leave it to them.

You can find the quickstart guide here, and a walkthrough on how to change the eye display here.

To install the eyes, I glued the plastic domes into place using a bit of hot glue around the edges of the eye openings. Adafruit sells a kit to attach the domes directly to the board, but I didn't want to affix all of that bulk to the inside of my pumpkin, and I wanted the domes to lay flush in the sockets. So rather than fixing the domes to the board, I kept them separate, and used a series of pushpins and rubber bands to hold the boards in place behind the lenses. This makes it easy to reposition or remove the eyes and gives me quick access for battery charging as well.

Step 8: Add Hair and Light It Up!

For the hair I used a cheap boa I got online. This is messy and frustrating and not very forgiving, so I recommend pinning the hair in place first before you use glue for final placement. I'm not super happy with the hair on this pumpkin, and I imagine I'll fix it at some point, but it's okay enough for now.

When you're sure of placement, glue the boa into position. Be sure you're not blocking the opening at the top of the pumpkin, you want to be able to put the stem on.

When the hair is glued on, switch on the eyes and enjoy your terrifying handiwork! Because of the electronics, this pumpkin shouldn't be outside when it's damp, but he'd look great in a window or under a porch or as part of your interior decorations.

Happy haunting everyone!

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