Pumpkin Head Halloween Costume

Halloween may still be a long way off this year (31st of October same as every year) but thanks to some confusion on my part I thought that was 6 weeks away instead of 10.

I had some discussion with my wife about what her costume would be this year, we came up with the idea of a pumpkin head. I got enthusiastic about the idea and now a week later I've finished the costume and have some time to write an instructable about it. It's good news for you guys because you get a full instructable with enough time to actually replicate it for this years halloween festivities.

This is another cheap job like my other masks, I find I'm getting good with the PVA and newspaper. I also had everything else I needed for this instructable in my cupboard of bits so there is a good chance you will too.
On with the show then....

Step 1: The Materials

Perhaps I should have a stock material page I use for this as I use these basics so often.

You will need:
Newspaper - one or two depending on the number of layers you want.
PVA Glue - I tend to decant mine into a seperate continue so I can water it down as required
Poster Paint - Orange, Green and White. Maybe some black too for shades of colour

Now for the special materials:
Elastic Bands - At least 4 but they will need to be large enough to go over the following balloon.
Punch Ball Balloon - Found in toy shops and also fair grounds when you were a child.

A quick google search reveals lots of places to buy them.

Step 2: Create the Basic Shape

To create large paper mache objects it helps to have something roughly the right shape to build around. This could be done with chicken wire or cardboard shapes but is often done with balloons too.

The first thing you will need to do is turn the punch ball balloon inside out. This takes a bit of effort but I found it was much easier to push the top of the balloon back through the neck rather that trying to roll the neck of the balloon over everything else. Don't loose the elastic band into the balloon though, you still need this sticking out the neck.

Blow up the balloon holding the band in the neck. Pull the elastic band tight to distort the shape of the balloon. Now tie a knot in the balloon to hold it into that shape.

Take the elastic band and wrap it around the balloon. I had to chain 3 elastic bands together the make them long enough for the balloon. I held it in place by hooking each end over the knot in the neck. Use these four elastic bands to squash the balloon into eighths.

Performing this simple step on the balloon before hand will save a lot of work building up the desired shape in paper mache afterwards.

Step 3: Cover the Balloon

This is where the paper mache skills really pay off. Cover the balloon with multiple layers of paper mache.
Leave the knot of the balloon exposed so that you can let the air out of it, this will be the top of the pumpkin. Do not cover the bottom of the balloon too much either as this will be the head hole.

I dillute my PVA glue with a little water to make it easier to slip the paper pieces into the places I want them to be. I ended up putting 6 layers of glue and paper on to my mask, leaving 4 hours for each layer to dry. I did this over 3 days but I guess the real hardcore builder could have it done in one day :P

Once dry deflate the balloon and remove it from the paper mache. Cut away some of the excess around the base so that you can finally get your head into the balloon. I used this excess to cover the hole in the top of the balloon, this way you only need to add two layers of paper mache (one inside and one outside) to give the join the same thickness as the rest of the balloon.

Step 4: Carve the Pumpkin

The final detail before you have a finished pumpkin shape is the stalk.
The stalk is just a roll of crumpled newspaper. I crumpled the paper to give the whole thing more texture. A large dollop of glue holds it onto the pumpkin. The stalk of a pumpkin tapers into the flesh, I created these details with newspaper folded into ridges and then smoothed off with more newspaper. It creates the shapes as seen in the photos.

The lid should also be carved like a pumpkin with a zig zag shaped hole. The reason for this will become apparent in a minute

Now you can let your imagination run wild and carve your pumpkin anyway you want. I was hoping for a mean and menacing face with mine. I marked it out with a pen and cut through the layers giving me my face.

Step 5: Adding Depth to the Pumpkin

Currently you have a pumpkin face that is looking rather thin. It could be painted and worn at this stage but I thought it would look better with more details.

Once carved out the walls of a pumpkin are usually about a two centimetres thick. To create the illusion of thickness I took some thin card and attached it around the cuts. Start with the lid of the pumpkin because it is a small manageable piece with mostly straight lines. Fringes on the card allow it to be curved around shapes and make it fit better to the pumpkin.

The eyes, eye brows, teeth and inside of the pumpkin lid should also be padded with card to create this illusion of depth. The curved walls of the pumpkin can also be followed by creating fringes in the other half of the cardboard.

Once you are happy with the cardboard give it another cover of paper mache, this will blend the new parts with the rest of the pumpkin shell. Once dry glue the pumpkin lid back into place in the pumpkin shell. The two parts should not align properly anymore so the lid will look like it has been removed from the shell and replaced.

Step 6: Painting the Pumpkin

The pumpkin should obviously be painted orange and the stalk green.
The inside, fleshy parts should be painted a pale yellow colour, this includes the join around the lid of the pumpkin.

Once I applied the first coat I realised the eyes and the teeth didn't really stand out enough for my liking. I painted the pupils and the teeth in the same colour as the flesh parts of the pumpkin (this can be achieved in a real pumpkin by peeling back the skin). I brushed some dark paint down the lines of the pumpkin, these still show through the next layer of paint.

Finally the pumpkin had a matt look from the paster paint, I coated the whole thing in another layer of PVA glue, this will also give it some protection from the elements should the evening be damp and miserable.

To finish it off, my wife intends to wear her purple cloak (made by myself for a previous party) and a fancy top. It should be safe to post that here as I very much doubt anyone at the party will see this before hand.

As usual if there are any questions please ask, although I can't see anything too complicated contained herein.

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    17 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Did you use anything to keep the head steady, so it wasn't wobbly?


    4 years ago

    Is there anything else I can use exept punch ball balloon? (sorry for bad english )


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This is nice! How big did you blow up the balloon to?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Could you also use a 'funkin' if pressed for time?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Could you also use a 'funkin' if pressed for time?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Hurray for pumpkinheads! Now I feel compelled to share this image with you. These are the first three giant papier-mache masks I ever made; the third one, tucked in the back, is my pumpkinhead. Technically, I was dressed as a scarecrow that year, but a scarecrow of the pumpkinheaded variety (I also had a raggedy coat, overalls, and a pair of "scary branch hands" that were pretty awesome).

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Step 6

    My costume for the last two years has been a pumpkin head, but it was the store bought pumpkin masked one, I did some mods like adding LEDs to the eyes, I think you just helped me figure out where I'm going with it this year. Thanks.

    you should try to make one they are simple and cheep to make and fun. Not to mention the pride that you will have something that you made


    10 years ago on Step 6

    I'd have to say this is a cool instructable, and approximately how long did this take you to make?

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 6

    Thanks very much. I reckon it took me about 4 nights to make but that is largely waiting for the layers to dry around the balloon.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Wow! I thought that was styrofoam, nice job giving it depth!