My mother was not the most creative or artistic mother in the car pool. Oh, let’s be honest…there wasn’t a car pool. When the family dinosaur died, I had to hoof it, the mile and a half to school. That long walk gave me plenty of opportunities to see the creative efforts of other moms during the Halloween season. I remember the most wonderfully carved pumpkins, some with cat faces and others with scary faces that were attached to scarecrow bodies. One of my favorites adorned the porch of a school friend, whose mother turned their front porch into a mini-haunted house. The jack o’lanterns she carved guarded the entrance, and both invited and warned guests of what awaited them. They had skeletal arms attached that seemed to enable them to drag their ungainly, legless pumpkin bodies up and down the stairs.
The jack o’lanterns we had at home were simple. Mother allowed us to draw the faces on the shells and she did the carving. Too many lines, and my mother simplified the design. She wasn’t very artistic, but, I didn’t say she wasn’t smart. So, if you are like my mother, clever, but not feeling very creative, I have some examples of alternatives to carving the family jack o’lantern. I have also included a couple of ideas for jack o’lantern accessories that will dress up even your most simple design.
The makers of Mr. Potato Head found pumpkins to be a perfect palette to expand the uses of their designs. The “Pumpkin Push Ins” are available in Witch, Pirate, Princess, Fireman and, my personal favorite, Ninja! You can also buy a bucket of non-specific face and body parts to create your own unique 3 dimensional pumpkin. Just remember, since these add-ons actually pierce the skin of the pumpkin, you won’t be able to use it later for cooking purposes.
Along the same lines as the push-ins, but with a unique twist, are the many ideas from “Pumpkin Wear”. The accessories made by Pumpkin Wear include decorations that attach to the pumpkin to make it a Scarecrow, Witch, Black Cat, Spider, and more. I particularly like the spider, that has a votive candle at the end of each leg. These might work best as indoor decorations or centerpieces, but they certainly are a unique way to turn an ordinary pumpkin into something extraordinary!
Another alternative to carving your gourd is painting. Your pumpkin paintings can be as simple or as complex as you want. Sketch out your idea, and use fine-line dry erase markers to mark it on the skin of the pumpkin. Any good acrylic craft paint will work for your purposes. Don’t limit yourself to the flat acrylic paints. Try some metallic, flourescent, glow in the dark, or glitter paints for special effects. Even if you are making a carved design, painting might enhance your masterpiece. Another reason to consider painting your pumpkin is that, after Halloween, you can still cook it down and use it to make pumpkin pie, bread or other pumpkin goodies!