Jack-o'-lantern

by brae  

What's a Halloween display without a jack-o'-lantern?!  Ophelia wouldn't hear of it!

I've seen many techniques used online and in books for making hollow pumpkins from polymer clay.  Most often something is baked inside: styrofoam, foil or a glass marble.  Each of these has pros and cons.  The styrofoam just seems noxious to bake, but maybe I'm wrong.  The glass marble can cause breakage when you try to remove it, which makes me worry about all the effort to make it look good being ruined in an instant.  The foil doesn't seem the easiest to remove, but it seems the least noxious and easier than the marble...so that's the way I went.

I used Fimo ochre clay around the foil ball and then added Fimo cognac clay around the clay ball.  This way, the inside would be lighter than the outside once carved.

I added lines and texture but decided to carve my pumpkin after baking to minimize handling while the clay was pliable.  I did plan to leave one or two of the pumpkins intact just for decoration, but I made all three the same way just in case.

I used pastels to color the clay before baking to deepen the color and emphasize the sculpted lines.  Here they are after baking.

After the clay cooled, I cut the removable top, removed the foil innards and carved the pumpkin face.  None of these things proved easily done.  The clay was thicker and harder than I thought it would be.  It didn't ruin the illusion in the end, but I ended up making only this one for lack of time.

I used a grape stem for the top, an idea I saw on Joann Swanson's blog.  I used the larger main stem, though, and it was still green.  I microwaved it to dry it out, and bleh...did it ever smell bad.  Hahahaha

After gluing the stems on, I brushed on a thin coat of Sculpey satin glaze, even on the stems to seal them.  It gives them a wonderfully realistic waxy finish.  :D It also disguises the cutting and carving marks.

I drilled a hole in the bottom for the LED.

These are flickering LEDs from Evan Designs.  They attach to a 3V battery adapter with a switch and come in yellow or orange.  I bought both colors since I wasn't sure which would look better, or if I would want a combination of the two.  And, because Lyssa told me to get both.  :D  I ended up using a single orange bulb for my jack-o'-lantern.  It ended up being the better color of the two and plenty bright on its own.

I had already run the wire through the foundation so I could operate the switch in the cellar doors.  Here's the battery and switch in the cellar.

The light is on and pumpkins are in place!  Hooray!

I think this requires a movie.  ;D  I apologize for the poor quality of the video, but it's the best my camera will do. At least you get to see the flickering LED!

I will definitely use these flickering lights for the parlor fireplace, too.  That wiring will be an easier endeavor to accomplish, though.

24 comments

Comment from: Angie Martin Hall [Visitor]

How awesome! My son got a kick out of watching the video. Thanks for sharing!

11/02/12 @ 19:03
Comment from: Lucille [Visitor]

Thanks for the tutorial, Brae! I love that video!

11/02/12 @ 19:49
Comment from: Patrick [Visitor]

I love your pumpkins and especially the lantern, it’s awesome. Thanks soooo much for giving the link to the shop that sell flickering LEDs with a battery! They look so easy to use!
Hope your migraine has gone for good!
Have a great, busy weekend,
Patrick from Thailand

11/02/12 @ 20:12
Comment from: Elga [Visitor]

I love your flickering pumpkin lantern, light really brings a scene to life.

11/03/12 @ 00:19
Comment from: Natalie Wilson [Visitor]

What a great tutorial Brae, I was wondering how you made a hollow pumpkin, never thought to fill it with foil. I love the flickering effect you have given it with the LED. Thanks for sharing your work.

11/03/12 @ 04:32
Comment from: Marion [Visitor]

Thanks so much for the great tutorial ! I love your pumpkins !

11/03/12 @ 04:37
Comment from: Idske [Visitor]

Love it! You can almost hear the witches cackling laughter in the background :)

11/03/12 @ 04:58
Comment from: Jennybee [Visitor]

Your pumpkins look great, I like how the lines look more realistic than others I have come across.

11/03/12 @ 05:28
Comment from: Mona [Visitor]

Great work! Your first photo is really Halloween, scary!
Mona

11/03/12 @ 08:46
Comment from: Kyle [Visitor]

Last year I tried the marble method, but it was so difficult I only made one Jack-o-lantern.

This year I tried it with foil, but my first attempt fell apart because the foil was too thick to pull out. So I tried making a form out of baked Sculpey, wrapped that in foil, and then made the pumpkin around it. That worked out as well the marble. >< I’m guess I’m stuck a one per year right now.

I like the flickering light. Even when it’s just a still photo, it really adds to the scene. &amp;#58;&amp;#41;

11/03/12 @ 11:32
Comment from: Sarah K. [Visitor]

Gosh thats amazing. I love it.

11/03/12 @ 17:39
Comment from: Christine [Visitor]

This whole project is amazing. So atmospheric and your Jack o’ lantern is the icing on the cake!

11/03/12 @ 20:40
Comment from: brae [Member]  

Thanks so much!!! &amp;#58;&amp;#62;&amp;#62;

11/03/12 @ 22:11
Comment from: Janice [Visitor]

Great tutorial Brae, I looked all over the internet for advice on how to make my cauldrons and here you have shown me how I can make the hollow shapes I need! I should have known your site would give me the answer eventually! Love the pumpkins too of course!!

11/04/12 @ 15:59
Comment from: Evelyne [Visitor]

Now I understand why your pumpkins look so much better than the ones I’ve seen on mini stores (the ones with lights one), you made them! They are just perfect!!!

Reading how difficult it was to carve it after baked and also to remove the foil inside, I thought I’d might try two things if I try to make something similar: use paper instead of aluminum foil (you can always soak the pumpkin to ‘melt’ the paper later - and inside the polymer clay paper can be baked safely) and use a dental drill tip with dremer tool for carving. (micromark has those). I wonder if those adjustments would make things easier or just mess things up, lol!

11/05/12 @ 08:18
Comment from: brae [Member]  

Thank you!!! &amp;#58;&amp;#68;

The paper ball might not be a bad thing to try. The foil wasn’t difficult, but there were sections that got caught in the baked clay. I just had to pull hard and was afraid of breaking the outer shell. I would worry about using power tools on something you’re holding in your hand. If there was a way to hold the pumpkin without leaving tool marks, then it might be an option. It was precarious enough using a sharp blade on it. &amp;#56;&amp;#56;&amp;#124;

11/05/12 @ 08:53
Comment from: Irene [Visitor]

A bit late but these are marvellous.

11/05/12 @ 11:05
Comment from: Blake [Visitor]

He looks great! The flickering light makes it A MILLION times cooler!

11/05/12 @ 14:11
Comment from: brae [Member]  

Thanks so much! &amp;#58;&amp;#62;&amp;#62;

11/05/12 @ 16:24
Comment from: Sarah [Visitor]

Damn Brae, you are too good!!!! &amp;#58;&amp;#68; I want to say look at this, and look at that, but you know whats there already &amp;#58;&amp;#68; Look at the cat on the step, with the flickering pumpkin, and the leaves and the moss, and the flaking paint, look at the grass, it has dry patches, etc, etc,.. Great attention to detail.

07/14/13 @ 08:33
Comment from: brae [Member]  

Thank you!!! &amp;#58;&amp;#68;

07/16/13 @ 10:10
Comment from: Alisa [Visitor]

So many wonderful ideas here. I love just knowing there are ways to make empty pumpkins in our miniature homes and other creations.

08/20/13 @ 19:16
Comment from: brae [Member]  

Thank you!!! &amp;#58;&amp;#68;

08/28/13 @ 08:16
Comment from: Klara [Visitor]

Evans Design are just great. I’m a complete mini building novice, but I purchased many sets of lights from them, they were fast and a fantastic company to deal with. I bought their fire kit and installed it in my daughter’s dollhouse fireplace. It looks very realistic and I spent many minutes gazing into the tiny living room &amp;#58;&amp;#41;&amp;#41;)
Thank you for the great tutorial, let’s see if I can get even remotely close to Jack-o-lantern.

10/04/14 @ 20:34