Make Miniature Pumpkins for Table Decorations or Scale and Dolls House Scenes

  • 01 of 10

    Make Miniature Pumpkins for Your Table or a Scale Scene

    Dolls house scale skelton dressed as a witch, holding a carved paper mache pumpkin.
    Miniature scale pumpkins in dolls house and smaller scales made from paper mache using colored tissue and glue. Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    These miniature pumpkins can be made in almost any scale or size for a dolls house or a regular table, using tissue paper, pva (white) glue, thread and paint. Paper mache techniques are used to make thin, lightweight containers that can easily be filled with small treats, used as vases for dolls house scale floral displays, or used in a number of ways for inexpensive seasonal decorations. If you make the pumpkins very tiny, you can use them easily in model railroad scenes.


    This technique works...MORE well through a range of sizes, from tiny through full size. The materials are inexpensive and easy to find or adapt, and this is a project easily completed by children. Just pick an appropriate size for them to work on. Made with tissue paper over an inflated balloon, the pumpkins can be turned into luminaria to decorate a porch or table if you use battery operated flickering tea lights or low heat producing LED light strings instead of candles.


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  • 02 of 10

    Assemble the Materials To Make Miniature Paper Mache Pumpkins

    Tissue, thread, pva glue and scissors ready to make a miniature paper mache pumpkin for a dollhouse.
    Colored tissue, PVA glue, scissors, thread and a plastic bag ready make scale or dollhouse miniature pumpkins from paper mache. Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    To Make the Miniature Paper Mache Pumpkins You Will Need


     


    • Strong Tissue Paper – preferably in an orange, or deep yellow color. You can use plain packing tissue and color it with paints afterwards if you prefer, For larger projects I have been known to use rolls of inexpensive toilet tissue.
    • Small Piece of Kraft Paper For the pumpkin stems. If you don't have brown or kraft paper (I used a paper bag) you can use a piece of the same tissue or paper you use for your pumpkins. .
    • PVA (White) Glue...MORE Traditional paper mache uses flour paste glue, and there are a number of other glues you can use for the technique. I suggest using pva glue because it makes very light, strong paper mache, which will not deteriorate if exposed to moist conditions for a short time. The glue should be thinned with water so that it is not as thick as cream.
    • A Firm Spherical Shape I made mine out of a biodegradable plastic shopping bag, pushing the plastic into the center of one side of the bag to make a smooth sphere and taping the top edges closed. For larger pumpkins I would use water balloons, or larger balloons, and for tiny pumpkins I use small rolled balls of tissue paper or waxed paper.
    • Green or Orange Thread – Depending on the scale of your project you may need ordinary single strand sewing thread for ¼ or smaller scale miniatures, on up to pieces of strong string for 1 foot and larger paper mache pumpkins.
    • Sharp Scissors or a Craft Knife – curved scissors work well for smaller scales.
    • Tweezers aren't necessary but may help you to pull the stuffing out of your miniature pumpkins if you need them hollow.
    • Paint – I used water color paint to darken my basic tissue to a nice pumpkin orange and used an olive green to detail the stem. You can use acrylic paint, or leave the pumpkins the color of your tissue.

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  • 03 of 10

    Form the Support Shape for a Miniature Paper Mache Pumpkin

    Small torn pieces of tissue are glued to a plastic bag sphere to make a rough pumpkin shape.
    Small rough torn bits of colored tissue are glued to the outside of a sphere made from a plastic bag to form a scale miniature paper mache pumpkin. Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Start to make your paper mache mini pumpkins by making the support shape from a balloon, a plastic bag, or tissue. Keep it as smooth on the outside as you can, and make it firm, but not rock hard.


    Dilute your white glue if necessary to make it a thin cream consistency and put it into a container you can dip the tissue into.


    Tear some narrow strips from your tissue paper, then break them up into pieces which are less than half the size of the side of your pumpkin form. Rough edges are best, and...MORE smaller pieces make smoother pumpkins (if you have the patience for small pieces).


    When you have a good supply of tissue pieces, dip some in the glue and smooth them over your basic form. Laying them onto the form evenly all around the shape. The first layer should have a fair amount of glue and may be soggy. If your pumpkin is now a wet sludge, add dry pieces of tissue on top of the glued ones, until your pumpkin is damp, not drippy.


    Continue to add on at least five layers of tissue, more if you have a larger shape, or want a stronger pumpkin. Try to keep the paper mache layers from becoming very wet or your project will take more time to dry.

     


    When your think your pumpkin is the correct thickness. Make sure the top layer has a thin coat of glue or is well glued down and set it aside for the top coat to dry.


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  • 04 of 10

    Shape the Sides of a Miniature Paper Mache Pumpkin

    Green thread is pulled tightly around a paper mache sphere to create bulges on a mini pumpkin.
    Green thread is tightly wrapped around a spherical paper mache shape while it is damp to create the distinctive lines on the outside of a miniature pumpkin. Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Shape the Pumpkin Sides – When the top coat of paper mache is dry to the touch, take thread or string (depending on the scale and size of the pumpkin) and wrap the thread around the pumpkin, pulling it tight to form the bulges in the pumpkin's sides. If glue oozes through, your pumpkin needs to dry some more before you do this! Some sizes of pumpkin will need two wraps of thread for each section, others may be in scale with only one.


    Wrap the final section at least twice, cut the thread and leave...MORE the paper mache pumpkin to dry completely through all layers.


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  • 05 of 10

    Paint a Miniature Pumpkin

    A miniature dolls house pumpkin detailed with orange paint.
    With the thread shaping the pumpkin still in place to act as a mask, a miniature paper mache pumpkin is colored shades of orange. Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Detail the Pumpkin Color With the thread or string still holding the sections of the pumpkin, mix up some watercolor or acrylic paint in a shade darker than your pumpkin tissue, and paint the sections of the pumpkin, avoiding the area directly near the thread or string. Pumpkins have a wide color variation when then are harvested, with the bottoms often being green or yellow, and with some areas being much darker or more orange in color.


    Set the pumpkin aside to dry thoroughly.


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  • 06 of 10

    Add A Stem to a Miniature Paper Mache Pumpkin

    A roll of brown kraft paper makes a stem on the top of a dolls house scale paper mache pumpkin.
    A roll of brown or kraft paper is added to the top of a miniature paper mache pumpkin to form a stem. Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Carefully remove the thread from your miniature paper mache pumpkin when the shape is thoroughly dry.. If you used green or orange thread, any color that comes off will look natural.


    Roll the Stem from Kraft Paper If you have a small amount of brown or kraft paper, coat one side of a strip with glue, and roll it into an appropriate diameter stem. Set the stem aside to dry.


    When the stem is dry, take sharp scissors or a knife, and cut into one end of the stem to separate the stem into quarters, or...MORE thirds. Spread these cut pieces out by pressing this area of the stem into some white glue, then glue the stem onto the top of the pumpkin. Cutting the bottom of the stem will spread out the stem so it looks more natural, and will also wide the base to form a better glue area. Set the pumpkin and its stem aside to dry.


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  • 07 of 10

    How to Hollow Out Your Miniature Paper Mache Pumpkin

    Using curved scissors to cut open the top of a miniature scale paper mache pumpkin.
    Cutting open the lid on a dolls house scale miniature paper mache pumpkin in order to remove the plastic support form. Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    If you want a hollow pumpkin with a lid, continue on with the following steps. If you are using the mini pumpkins for a model or to display as whole pumpkins, just keep making more!


    To Hollow Out A Paper Mache Pumpkin


    Carefully cut away a pumpkin lid, using curved scissors (especially for tiny pumpkins) or a sharp craft knife. Cut the lid with a sharp notch on one side, so that it will be easier to reposition on top of your pumpkin. Don't worry about cutting into your pumpkin stuffing but try...MORE to avoid heavy cuts by staying as close to the paper mache surface as possible when you cut.


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  • 08 of 10

    Removing the Support Stuffing From a Paper Mache Pumpkin

    A plastic bag that formed a spherical base for a paper mache pumpkin is pulled carefully away.
    With the lid cut open, the plastic bag that created the support shape for a miniature paper mache pumpkin can be removed. Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    With the lid off your paper mache pumpkin, check to see that the paper mache layers are completely dry. Use tweezers to carefully pull away the support shape you made for the pumpkin if it is completely dry. If you are making very small scale pumpkins, the tissue you rolled into a sphere as a support may be glued to the pumpkin walls in places. Pull away what you can without deforming your pumpkin. You may be able to use a paint brush to dampen some areas and make them easier to pull out.


    If your...MORE pumpkin has thick enough walls for your purposes, you can carve out Jack O Lantern features or use the pumpkin as is. If you think your pumpkin is too thin, cut out the features you want on the face of your Jack O Lantern (as long as the pumpkin is not so thin that it collapses). To thicken your pumpkin or its lid, go to the next step.


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  • 09 of 10

    How Thick Should Your Paper Mache Pumpkin Be?

    A one inch hollow paper mache pumpkin ready to be used as a dolls house miniature.
    A dolls house scale paper mache pumpkin, empty of its plastic support, can now be filled or fitted with a light . Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Paper mache made with PVA glue and tissue can be extremely strong, even in thin layers. When you have removed your stuffing, test your pumpkin by pressing it gently. It should hold its shape. The ridges you made with the thread will help to make it stronger. If you need the lid to be thicker or the top of the walls to have an edge to hold the lid, you can add more tissue on to the shape, see the next step.


    If your little pumpkin barely holds its shape, apply a coating of glue to the inside of the...MORE pumpkin and begin to add more layers of tissue. Be careful you don't add to much glue or the structure will become too damp and lose its shape.


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  • 10 of 10

    Adding Finishing Details to Your Miniature Paper Mache Pumpkin

    A dolls house scale jack o lantern getting extra layers of tissue paper on the interior.
    Extra layers of tissue are added inside the shaped lid to give thickness to the inside of a paper mache Jack O Lantern. Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

    Adding Layers to the Inside of a Paper Mache Pumpkin


    If you need to color the inside of the pumpkin or thicken the pumpkin for a more realistic effect or to create strength, use a brush to apply a thin layer of glue to the inside of the pumpkin and add more layers of tissue.


    You can make the lid thicker so that it sits on a thin walled pumpkin, by coating the underside of the lid with glue and adding rough layers of paper under the top surface until you create the effect you want. If you keep...MORE folding a long strip of paper and gluing in between the folds, you will create a thick layer fairly quickly without softening the lid (see photo). When the underside of the lid is sufficiently thick, use scissors to trim away the added paper layers, back to the original cut lines on the lid of the pumpkin.


    Tip to make smoother paper mache, use smaller pieces of paper. Another way to create a smooth surface is to coat the outside with a layer of artist's gesso. This will fill in the cracks and make the pumpkin completely smooth. It will reduce the transparency of the pumpkin if you wanted it to act as a lantern, and of course it will need to be painted (or have acrylic or watercolor paint added to it) as gesso is white.