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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween Countdown: Perfect Pour Pumpkins

5 days 'til Halloween!

Time to decorate those pumpkins we got from Bob's Pumpkin Farm last weekend! I wanted to leave the carving to James (pumpkin carving is not my thing), so I set up a different kind of pumpkin decorating project to do with Calvin.

I got the idea from a local kids' art space called Little Tree Studios. I took the boys to an art class there last summer and now I follow them on Instagram. I saw their pictures of a paint pouring project using pumpkins and I absolutely loved it! Easy, doable with a toddler, very little skill involved - or motor skills for that matter - relevant for some special needs kids - and the finished pumpkins have a fun, modern look to them. Ok, maybe a messy, modern look :)

paint* in assorted colors
small cups
plastic cup (or similar) to use as a stand
plate to catch paint drips

*I used tempera paint, but acrylic is recommended. I read that tempera paint tends to crack and chip off the pumpkins if you handle them too much once they are dry. I didn't have any acrylic paint, and acrylic is not washable so I'm not sure I would want to use that with Calvin anyway. I read a tip from this post on The Artful Parent to add a few drops of liquid dish soap to the tempera paint to get it to adhere better to the pumpkin, so I tried that out. I'll let you know how they hold up... I also read about other techniques to get the paint to stick to the pumpkins like spray painting them first, or even covering the pumpkins in papier mache. I wanted to keep things simple so I didn't bother with any of that. I also read that you can mix glue with tempera paint to make it stick better and I really like that idea but we used the last of our glue on our Monster Bowling pins! - ** See update at the bottom!

I like to use just the primary colors and white tempera paint because I love mixing  my own shades from the basics. Plus Calvin got to see how colors blend to make new colors! We ended up making some really pretty shades! If you are mixing your own paint colors you'll need brushes or something else to mix the paint. I used take-out chopsticks.

Paint cups for our first pumpkin
We painted two pumpkins, one for Calvin and one (sort of) for Henry. I know I could have let Henry do some painting and have that sensory experience... and maybe I should have... but honestly I was not up for that level of messiness.

I set the pumpkins on a short plastic cup so that they wouldn't be sitting in puddles of paint. I used paper plates to catch the drips.

Once our colors were mixed and our pumpkin was set up, we poured each color over the pumpkin one at a time. The tempera was pretty thick, so we kind of squeezed the paper cups to get it all out. I used a hand-over-hand approach with Calvin which, now that I look back at the pictures, may have been a little control-freakish... I could have let him have more independence, but I felt like he kept missing the pumpkin and I didn't want to waste our beautiful paint! So I held his arm or held the cup with him and helped him aim the paint at the pumpkin.

Also, you may notice that I forgot to put a smock on Calvin... James thought maybe I just wanted his Giants shirt to be seen in the pictures. Um, yeeeaaah. Let's say I meant to do that... Tempera paint is washable anyway!

When our first pumpkin was finished, we mixed more colors for the second one. Then we used the same technique of pouring the paints one at a time over the top of the pumpkin.

While they were wet, they looked so glossy and drippy they reminded me of caramel apples! So much paint will take a long time to completely dry. We did this project last night before dinner, and by this morning they look mostly dry, but I am not convinced so I'm giving them a full 24 hours before I take them off their "stands." **

How did you guys decorate pumpkins this year? Anybody want to try out the Perfect Pour??

Check out the other posts in my Halloween Countdown for more toddler-friendly play ideas!


The tempera paint did crack once they were dry :( It took about two days for them to be completely dry, and I guess that dish soap trick didn't work! Guess these are not quite the "perfect" poured paint pumpkins. Better to use acrylic paint, I guess, or try mixing glue with the tempera paint. Hopefully one of those will have better lasting results. They still look cool!

Did anyone else try something similar that worked better??

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