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How to Make your Own Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns to Decorate your Home or Office With
The holiday season is just around the corner and that means it is time to start decorating your home! Did you know that 50.1% American consumers plan to decorate their home for Halloween this year? Hopefully you are one of those Americans. For me, decorating the house is only half the fun. I also really enjoy making my own props, displays, and adornments. This is especially fun if you can get your kids involved. Making your own seasonal and holiday decor is usually inexpensive and affords you the satisfaction of knowing you created something unique that the whole family can enjoy. In this article I will show you how I made the little jack-o-lanterns I used in the display shown in the picture at right.
All you really need to create these jack-o-lanterns is some scrap wood, some orange paint, a permanent marker, and some clear acrylic sealer. For this project, I used a scrap piece of 3/4 inch thick pine to make the pumpkins.
Start by drawing the outline of the pumpkins with a pencil. Since no two pumpkins in real are alike, make sure to create a variety of shapes and sizes. After you have drawn your pumpkin family, you are ready to start cutting them out.
Before starting up your saw, make sure you put your safety glasses on. To make these curvy cuts, use a scroll saw equipped with a medium thickness wood cutting blade. If you don't have a scroll saw, a jig saw can also be used to make these cuts. A jig saw is a bit more difficult to work with, but given the right blade (and a piece of wood large enough to hold), these pumpkins can still be easily created.
When making your cuts, be sure to move the wood slowly with a continuous motion. If the wood stops moving, a small saw mark can form on the edge of the pumpkins which will require sanding to remove. When you are done, you should have a lovely family of pumpkins ready to be sanded.
After all of the little pumpkins have been cut out, they need to be sanded and prepped for painting. First, use a medium grit (grit designation #80) sanding sponge to remove the visible defects on the wood's surface. The sanding sponge is ideal here because it allows you to easily sand the curved surfaces. When the wood's blemishes are removed, finish it up with a very fine grit (grit #150) sanding sponge. Finally, use an air compressor to remove any loose sawdust before they are painted. Now the little pumpkins are ready for some color!
For the orange color, you can use any bright color that you want. For this project, I chose Krylon's OSHA safety orange. This glossy spray paint is vibrant and creates the perfectly colored pumpkin. After each side of the pumpkin gets a coat of paint, examine the wood surface's imperfections that need to be removed. Any areas that you missed in the original sanding will become more visible now. If you do need to sand any areas, you should use a microgrit sanding sponge with a grit designation of around #240. Very lightly massage the sanding sponge into the wood to buff out the imperfections. When this is complete, add a second coat of orange paint to both sides to finish the job.
When the paint is completely dry (about 24 hours) you are ready to bring some life into these pumpkins.
I used various sizes of black permanent markers to draw the curved lines, edges, and faces on the front and back of each jack-o-lantern. You can use green and brown permanent markers to color and shade the stems. I recommend permanent markers for this project because they are very easy to use, give great results, and require essentially no clean-up.
As you can see, the permanent marker writes well on the glossy painted surface and has a very clean edge to it.
When all the jack-o-lanterns are complete, you need to give them a coat or two of a clear sealer. There are many options available to seal the pumpkins, but I prefer a spray-able clear acrylic sealer. This forms a perfectly translucent and durable shell on the wood's surface that won't fade or yellow in the future.
Now that all the work is done, you can set your pumpkins on a shelf or create a "pumpkin patch" display as I have done. These cute little jack-o-lanterns are a great way to add a seasonal touch to anyone's home or office.