How To Make Paper Mache Jack O’ Lanterns

How To Make Paper Mache Jack O' Lanterns

Jack-o-lanterns are the Halloween decoration par excellence! They make a seasonal and colorful decoration by the light of day and can appear cheerful, funny, or cast an eerie glow under the cover of darkness. Nothing looks more inviting on All Hallow’s Eve than a glowing jack-o-lantern set out to welcome or spook your guests.

If you love to surround yourself and your home with bright, beautiful jack-o-lanterns on Halloween, but don’t want to spend scads of your holiday budget on real pumpkins that are very time-consuming to carve and will be rotting on your porch in November, try making some paper mache jack-o-lanterns. These can look as good as the real ones at night, but are easy and inexpensive to craft. They are also so light that they can be hung from hooks or tacks, as well as placed on a flat surface.

To make your paper mache jack-o-lantern, you will need:

  • Old newspapers cut into 1″ to 2″ strips
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup white craft glue
  • 1 balloon for each jack-o-lantern you want to make
  • Some String
  • A pencil
  • Poster paint
  • A paint brush
  • A craft knife or pair of scissors
  • A battery powered pumpkin light for each jack-o-lantern

Take your balloons and inflate them to the approximate size you want your jack-o-lantern to be. Make a knot with the mouthpiece.

Mix the flour, water and craft glue in a large bowl to create a paper mache paste. Dip a newspaper strip into the paper mache paste and run it through your fingers to wipe off excess.

Take a balloon and lay the strip on it. Repeat the process, covering almost the entire balloon in two to three layers of paper mache strips. The only part you want to leave uncovered is an approximately 4″ diameter circle around the knotted mouthpiece. Don’t worry if it’s not exactly even, you can always trim it later.

Once a balloon is covered with paper mache, tie a string to the knotted mouthpiece and suspend it from a clothes line, shower rod, or a thumb tack in the ceiling. Allow it to dry for several hours, or overnight.

When the paper mache is dry, pop the balloon. It will shrivel and pull away from the paper mache, leaving the shell that is somewhat shaped like a pumpkin.

To make your jack-o-lantern stand up on its own, carefully dent in the rounded bottom edge. Set it on a table. If needed, crush it in a little further until it can stand up on its own.

Use a pencil to mark eyes, a nose, and a mouth on your jack-o-lantern. Take your scissors or craft knife and cut them out, being careful not to crush in the side.

Paint your jack-o-lanterns. For a great, traditional look, use orange on the outside and yellow on the inside. However, you can get as creative as you like with design and color. Try cutting out a ghost or skeleton figure and paint the jack-o-lantern black on the outside, white on the inside. Another great idea is making a green jack-o-lantern with a monster face, or a witch face, and a top with a pointed black hat.

Once painted, set them aside and let them dry thoroughly.

Once dry, place your battery-powered pumpkin light to illuminate your jack-o-lantern. Do not use a candle! The paper is flammable and this poses a fire hazard. You can hang your jack-o-lanterns by using a hole punch to punch a hole on each side of the top opening and putting a string through it, then tacking it up or suspending it from a hook.

You can also set them on a flat surface in a holiday arrangement. If outdoors, put some sand or rocks inside to keep the autumn wind from blowing them away. Place your shining jack-o-lantern in a window, as a table centerpiece for your Halloween party, or line your walk with a row of them for Halloween night to guide and welcome trick-or-treaters.

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