Monday, September 27, 2010

Play & Display Your Pumpkins!

I LOVE Fall, and I know so many of us do, I think it incorporates a whole new dimension in home decorating.  Incorporating natural elements with our everyday style is FUN, different and quite frankly something we can change up every year.  Because, for the most part, we purchase pumpkins that are appealing to us for one use or another.  A particular pumpkin could appeal to us as a vase, as a base for a stacking pumpkin display, or perhaps as part of a centerpiece.  Any way we use pumpkins, we should have fun with it!  If you find a pumpkin that is a perfect color, shape and size and you want to use it from now through Thanksgiving, don't cut into it.  Instead spray it with a satin sealer spray and it could last for up to 8 months.  Unfortunately you won't want to use pumpkins in your display come June . . . or would you?  YOU are such a renagade!   I hope you find some of the example shown inspiring, different and something you will give a try this year! 
Pumpkin picks

For carving: The quintessential pumpkin has a rich orange hue, medium to large size and strong handle. Look for varieties such as Howden Field (15-30 pounds), Magic Lantern (15-25 pounds) and Autumn Gold (8-15 pounds).

For painting: Pumpkins with smooth skins are best for painting or decoupage. Try varieties such as Lumina (10-15 pounds, white) or Baby Pam (4-5 pounds, orange).

For color contrast: Pumpkins look artsy in exotic and two-tone colors; no additional ornamentation needed. Look for Cinderella (25-30 pounds, dark orange/red color with deep ridges, Jarrahdale (9 pounds, with blue/green or slate gray skin), Hooligan (miniature with orange and white mottled colors), Fairytale (15 pounds, with rich mahogany brown color) and Batwing (1/4 pound, with orange and green coloring).

 Consider utilizing your pumpkin for a wine chiller or a dip bowl . . .

 Ribbon glued to mini pumpkins create an ornamental effect, fun and whimsical.  Without cutting into these pumpkins they can be used for Thanksgiving as placecard holders.

 Decopage pumpkins, real or paper mache.

How simple to place some (very) miniature pumkins under stemware and top with candles!

Pumpkin topiaries

Turn miniature pumpkins into tabletop topiaries accented with raffia bows.
Hot-glue a piece of Styrofoam into a 4-inch terra-cotta pot. Push a sharpened dowel or tree branch into the bottom of a miniature pumpkin, and push the other end into the Styrofoam. Secure with glue if needed. Spread dried beans or peas over the top of the Styrofoam, gluing if necessary. Tie a raffia bow around the dowel just below the pumpkin

Message tower

Send your guests a spooky message with this towering display.
Sketch the outline of the letters freehand, then scrape off the pumpkin skin to highlight each letter. Stack the pumpkins on a dowel near your entryway.
Pumpkin welcome

Greet your guests at the door with a pumpkin house-number sign.
Stack small, medium and large Cinderella pumpkins (remove stems, except for the top one). Then use a stencil and crafts knife to trace the outlines of your address numbers. Scrape the pumpkin skin out of the stenciled numbers, revealing the lighter pumpkin flesh underneath. 
Tabletop 'Mumkins'

Combine two fall favorites by turning a pumpkin into a bursting-with-mums flower arrangement.
Begin carving as you would with a jack-o-lantern. Carefully cut a lid (keep the stem!) and remove the seeds and pulp. Using a drill or nail, poke small holes around the shell, just wide enough to insert flower stems. Select mums in oranges, reds and golds. Cut the stems about a half inch from the flower head, long enough to poke into the hole. Space holes so adjoining flowers cover the pumpkin flesh. Start at the top, and work your way down until the pumpkin is covered.
The number of mums you need depends on the sizes of the blooms and your pumpkin. Keep the inside of the pumpkin moist; flowers will last two or three days.   You can also recreate the same look just using a floral foam ball, pumpkin stem and flowers.  No need for a pumpkin for this creative project.

Pumpkin table runner
Create a fresh-from-the-patch table runner in just a couple of minutes.
Arrange a line of miniature pumpkins or gourds down the center of the table and weave a ribbon around them. Top with a bittersweet stem.
Black magic

Create black-and-orange etched designs on three or four pumpkins for a bewitching display. Carve out one to hold a vase full of flowers.
To start, spray-paint the pumpkins a matte black finish. (Protect the stems with tape.) When the pumpkins are dry, use a paring knife to scrape away the painted surface in vertical or horizontal lines. Or etch a simple shape or pattern, such as the sun or a zigzag.
Knock-out design

Whimsical dots create a two-tone or multicolor design with season-long appeal.
Use a plunger-type apple corer to punch out circles from an assortment of pumpkins and winter squash. Tapping the plunger with a rubber mallet helps push the corer through tough pumpkin shells. Then re-insert the circles in contrasting-color pumpkins. Mix and match the circles from different pumpkins to create polka-dot patterns, or discard circles to let light glow through your design
Patchwork pumpkins
Like working with a three-dimensional quilt, you can mix and match cut shapes from different-colored pumpkins for a custom look. Here orange squares make a checkerboard pattern in a white Lumina pumpkin.
Scoop out the insides, then cut identical shapes out of two pumpkins. Switch the pieces.
It's important that pieces to be exchanged are of the same size. For a precise edge, you can use tools such as metal cookie cutters, biscuit cutters and an apple corer to help with your cutting. For a more handcrafted look, design your own template.

Create a patchwork and paint display
Set a seasonal scene on your porch or patio using our patchwork and paint techniques to create a beautiful grouping of pumpkins. Add flowers, fall leaves, small pumpkins and fresh vegetables to embellish your inspiring display.

Flower power

Summer still blooms when you translate flower motifs to autumn pumpkins.
Use an apple corer to cut flower centers, and carve petal designs with a triangle clay loop tool, available at some crafts stores or through pottery supply stores online. Swap flower centers among different-color pumpkins for whimsical contrast.

Painted leaf art

Painted pumpkins offer the fun of seasonal decorations without the mess of traditional carving. To put your painting in the spotlight, add your designs to unusual squash or pumpkin cultivars, like this striking blue-green Jarrahdale pumpkin at left. See slide 16 for an inspiring list of different types of pumpkins to look for.
To paint any pumpkin, start with one that is clean and dry. Lightly sand the surface and apply paint sealer to prevent flaking. Create a design with stencils and acrylic paint, such as the leaf stencil and orange and white paints used here, then finish with a top-coat sealer.

Natural display

A pumpkin "basket" makes an imaginative centerpiece for a fall table.
Here, a large white pumpkin holds an arrangement of fall flowers and berries, as well as a white candle nestled in the center. Hollow out the pumpkin, then place a block of wet floral foam inside. Position a pillar candle in the foam and surround with fall blooms.
Try using your pumpkin as a planter or vase. Add a large place bag inside prior to adding soil or water. 
Remove the tops of the pumpkins and hollow out the insides to make fall vases. Place a watertight container inside each pumpkin to keep flowers fresh and prevent pumpkins from getting soggy.

Window dressing

An assortment of mini pumpkins and fresh fall leaves creates a pretty fall window swag.  Knot your fall bounty on a length of rustic twine, and swag across your panes to frame a pretty autumn view
Pumpkin place cards

Small pumpkins add a fresh touch to a fall table setting. And they're not afraid to work as place cards while they're looking pretty.
Start by inscribing colorful leaves with your guests' names. Then tie the foliage to mini pumpkins with raffia or twine.

Inner glow

Miniature Baby Boo, Jack-Be-Little and Sweetie Pie pumpkins become perfect candleholders when hollowed out for votives.
We used old pitchforks, rake heads and an antique apple picker as simple wall sconces (see previous slide for the complete display).
Safety note: Always place leaves at least 3 inches from flames, and never leave burning candles unattended.

Accent your home with pumpkin characters of the residents . . .

 From the elaborate
 To the simple - don't forget grandma!
Elegant white

Pair all-white or orange-stripe pumpkins with white tableware for a soft, elegant look.
All-white pumpkin varieties include 'Lumina', 'Baby Boo' and 'Moonshine'. Try 'Lil' Pump-Ke-Mon' for a miniature pumpkin with creamy color accented by bright orange stripes.Similiarily to how the basic white is used, try clear glass. . .

Easy centerpiece

Make a fuss-free centerpiece by displaying several pumpkins or gourds on the table.
Our arrangement uses a long white platter, but a basket or tray would work well, too. Add a few leaves, berry clusters or flowers for color and texture.

For other Imaginative Pumpkin "ART" with carving your pumpkin . . . check out Play with Your Pumpkins at your local library.  A real "treat"!

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