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Kitchen Crafting :: Trash Pumpkin Planter

Creating a welcoming fall planter out of trash and household items.

From learning to play an instrument to how to how to code a website, The internet is full of information on almost anything one could want to know.

I often search the web for ideas when I want to create something. This autumn, I wanted to make my front porch festively welcoming. Researching trending color schemes and designs ideas, I used Pinterest and found a pumpkin planter using 3 faux pumpkins in a stack on an urn planter. I fell in love.

Picture from Luvly Decora “48 Fabulous Orange And White Pumpkin Fall Front Porch Ideas To Inspire”
Picture from Luvly Decora “48 Fabulous Orange And White Pumpkin Fall Front Porch Ideas To Inspire”

Deciding it was something I would like to make to return to my porch every year, using faux pumpkins versus real ones seemed like the optimal choice. I began hunting for foam look a like craft pumpkins and my local craft store was having a sale! SCORE! However, when I nailed down the sizes I wanted they were still so expensive. Eeek! Was there a less expensive way to make my own custom pumpkins?

I have worked with paper maché before using the traditional method of newspaper strips dipped in a batter made of flour, glue, and water. I wasn’t positive that even if I seal it, it would hold up in the outdoor elements. I ‘Pinterest-ed’ other methods of creating sculptures, and found that paper maché clay was “a thing”. An artist uses her recipe to make wonderful art pieces from animals to masks. Impressed by her finished products and suggested application of spreading it on with a knife, I paralleled it to making frosting and icing a cake. (Now we’re talking my language!) Plus, maché clay didn’t have to be sanded. I set my sights on working with this medium to make pumpkins.

Picture  of Joni from Ultimate Paper Mache
Artist, Joni from Ultimate Paper Mache

Using a form of plastic shopping sacks and the paper maché clay, I created 3 pumpkins for my fall planter. After they were dry, I painted, assembled, added additional fall embellishments. VOLIA! I made my own pumpkin planter welcoming guests to my front porch this Autumn.

Before & After Pictures of Trash Pumpkins

If you are a DIY-er, you can make your very own pumpkin planter. Here are my steps for turning a pile of trash plastic sacks into a treasure.

I rooted through my utility room and asked neighbors for plastic shopping bags. I gathered a heaping pile of all types, some were flimsy while others were made of thicker plastic.

For the large pumpkin, I stuffed a giant plastic bag full of smaller plastic bags and tied it closed.

For the medium pumpkin, I used an average size plastic bag from the grocery and stuffed it absolutely full of additional bags. Then, I tied it closed.

The small pumpkin was an average size bag, stuffed, but not full. Then, I tied the handles together so it was tight around the inner bags forming a small ball.

After all three sacks were stuffed and tied, in a criss cross pattern, I used masking tape to wrap TIGHTLY around the sacks making them “poof” out like pumpkins naturally do.

Plastic shopping sacks stuffed and taped in pumpkin form
Plastic sacks full and taped

For the stem on the small top pumpkin, I rolled up on plastic sack and doubled it over. Then, I wound masking tape around it tightly.

I set my “stem” on the top pumpkin and taped the two forms together.

For this project, I used Joni’s Paper Maché Clay recipe and followed her instructions.

Ingredients and Supplies
Ingredients & Supplies

This project used:

Lots of paper sacks, but filling with newspaper would be a good option too.

Masking Tape

Dowel Rod

Faux Fall Florals – leaves, branches, acorns, pine cones, bows, flowers

Outdoor Urn or Planting Pot (I wanted something tall and slightly smaller in circumference then the largest pumpkin.)

6 rolls of toilet paper (Cheap 2 ply)

3 C Proform Lite premixed dry joint compound (Do not use DAP brand)

2 1/4 C Elmer’s Glue

1 C White flour

Pumpkin Orange, Apricot, Harvest Orange, & Brown Oxide Apple Barrel Brand acrylic craft paint (matte finish)

Electric Stand Mixer with whisk & paddle attachment


Small off-set spatula

Curved rubber spatula

Craft paint brushes

Measuring cups

I made the paper maché clay by following The Ultimate Paper Maché recipe here.

Making paper mache clay in my kitchen

After the clay was mixed, I used a small offset icing spatula to spread on my pumpkin forms.

Icing my pumpkin forms in paper mache clay
“Icing” the trash pumpkin in paper maché clay

I covered the tops of the forms and let dry for 36 hours. Once they felt dry to the touch, I flipped them over and covered the bottoms.

Three pumpkin forms with the tops covered & dried in paper mache clay
3 little pumpkin forms with the tops covered in clay

After totally dry, I repeated this step again, but using a curved rubber spatula the second time, so I would have well coated and a durable final project.

Second coat of paper mache clay using a rubber spatula to spread

When all three pumpkins were dry, it was time for paint. My son helped me with this part.

Painting pumpkin orange apple barrel paint on a dried clay pumpkin

We used 3 different shades of orange paint for a natural pumpkin color and used a touch of brown in the crevices, so they would stand out.

Painting crevice details with brown oxide apple barrel paint
Just a tap of brown & blend into the crevices.
After paint and the brown is blended into the crevasses
Here is the brown after blended into the orange.
Painting the bottoms of the clay pumpkin forms
Just like covering with the clay, paint tops, & let dry. Then paint bottoms of each pumpkin.
finished paint on small and medium pumpkin forms

Once I was done painting, I used a screw driver to punch a hole through the hard outer shell.

Using a screw driver to puncture holes in the clay pumpkins

I used a dowel rod to secure all pumpkins together. Getting the dowel rod through the inner sacks was a bit tricky and requires patience. I sharped one end of a dowel with a box knife to puncture each pumpkin.

Sharpening a dowel rod to poke through the clay pumpkin forms

When I had gotten the dowel through each one individually, I stacked them all together and secured with hot glue.

Putting all pumpkin forms on the dowel rod
Put all pumpkins on one dowel rod.
Hot glue pumpkins together on a dowel rod.
Add hot glue between each pumpkin.

I sat the kabob of pumpkins on a large planter I bought on clearance for $10.00. I had fall florals laying around in my craft supplies, so I used leaves, branches, pine cones, acorns, bows, and flowers; hot gluing them in between the layers and filling in the space around the pot and bottom pumpkin.

Decorating with fall embellishments gave this planter character.

Here is the final product!

Pumpkin Planter project complete and on the front porch

I am super excited about my trash pumpkins and hope you enjoyed my project!

Learn and create something new today.

Don’t forget to feed yourself!

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Published by Karen Piehl

I am a wife, mother, friend, artist, baker, decorator, risk taker, mess maker, coffee lover, quirky, creative, and a wonderfully made child of God. I wear a lot of hats in the creative world, but my love and passion is baking and decorating cookies & cakes.

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