Halloween Craft: Using Stencils to Paint Pumpkins

By Michael Warwick

Pretty soon the little ghosts will be arriving on your doorstep. That means it’s time to get all those Halloween Crafts started too. Decorating pumpkins for Halloween is a longtime tradition. However, recent years have brought about some exciting changes to the tradition. Folks are becoming much more creative and putting an artistic touch to their designs. Instead of just the traditional carving of a pumpkin, now people are painting pumpkins.

I want to share with you some ideas and how to information for painting jack o lantern stencils onto a pumpkin. Decorating your pumpkin with paint is much less messy and safer when getting the kids involved. Not to mention that you can be a lot more creative with paint and using a Halloween stencil makes the job much easier.

Don’t just limit these instructions to the pumpkins you pick up at the farmer’s market either. I use this technique on gourds, too. Also, I found some plastic pumpkins at my local craft and decorating supply house. These are great because I can pack them away and they’ll be good for next year.

There are many printable Halloween stencils available on the web. But first, match your pumpkin and your stencil design. If you already have a pumpkin that is tall and thin, find a pattern that will fill in the height and not curve too far around the sides. If you have chosen a pattern that is short and wide, look for a pumpkin that is squat and round. You want your image to be clearly visible from one direction. Also, try to find a pumpkin that has a smooth side for your pattern to fit snugly against. This will make it easier to transfer your pattern.

If the Halloween stencil is not the right size for your pumpkin, you can always reduce or enlarge the image on a copy machine. Just hold the design in front of the pumpkin and eye it in. It’s best not to have a design that rolls too far over the top or bottom of your pumpkin. Remember, you want to see the entire design from one direction.

OK! You’ve got your pattern and it’s the right size. Now, you’ll have to cut your pattern so that you can apply paint. Using a craft-knife cut out the openings on the stencil. Make sure your blade is sharp at all times. Dull blades may cause the paper stencil to tear. The goal is to cut along each line only once with a firm, smooth motion. With your free hand, hold the stencil firmly and rotate the stencil so that you are always cutting with your arm and wrist at a comfortable angle. When cutting past a thin bridge area carefully use a finger to hold down the paper.

Now it’s time to tape the stencil to the pumpkin and apply paint. That’s much easier said than done because you have a flat square page that needs to be secured to a round object. Here’s what I do. Line up your stencil so that the center of the design is even with the center of the pumpkin and put tape on each side. Then if you can, place another piece of tape at the top and the bottom. As you apply paint, you will need to use a finger to pull down the corners so that it flattens against the pumpkin.

Pour paint onto your palette (a paper plate can be used). Dip your brush in the paint and work into the bristles by gently rotating to make sure all sides are loaded with color. Then dab the brush several times on a paper towel or piece of paper to get out any excess paint. It’s important to have a brush that is on the dry side because it will keep paint from seeping under the stencil and smearing or running. This will most likely happen to some degree anyway so be prepared to do some touching up.

More color is achieved by repeated coverage, not by using more paint. When your brush is properly loaded, an even powdering of paint is left when blotted on a paper towel or paper. Apply the paint using a downward, or dabbing, motion over the edges of the stencil openings so as not to push paint under the stencil. If you use a back and forth brushing motion, the brush will push paint under the stencil and cause smearing. Another reason you do not want to use a brushing or back and forth stroke is because it may tend to curl or bend your paper stencil. Apply paint with this dabbing and blotting motion in all the cut out areas of your stencil.

It’s best to wait a couple of minutes before removing the stencil once you’ve finished painting. The idea is to be able to get the paper away from the surface without smudging the paint. So, if you let the paint dry just a little it will be less likely to smear. On the other hand, if the stencil remains in place for the paint to thoroughly dry, some of the paper along the edges will stick to the pumpkin. When removing the stencil, hold down on one side and roll it away. This is the best way to keep the stencil from dragging across any wet paint.

Touch up any jagged lines with a thin paint brush. You will most likely also need to fill in the crevice areas of the pumpkin that didn’t receive paint. For paint in areas where it shouldn’t be, you can use a wet cloth or paper towel to wipe it away.

Wait! Don’t put away the paint brush and paints. This is the part where you can get very creative. Since you are working with paint, there is no reason you can’t do a second color or even a few colors. Here are a few tips and hints to make your pumpkins really stand out.

Once you have completed a layer of black paint on your stencil, reattach the stencil just above the black areas and repaint with yellow. This creates a shadow effect.

But don’t be shy with the colors. Using reds, blues and greens can make your faces or scenes really stand out. You have the stencil to guide you in getting an image onto your pumpkin so now stretch your creativity and make it unique.

There are so many ways to have fun with Halloween crafts and Halloween stencils! I often think that making the decorations is the best part of any occasion and Halloween is no exception. I hope you get the most of the projects found on this page and create some funky or scary art. Happy Stenciling!

Looking for some great and unique stencil designs? I have just the place – www.designsfrompenny.com You’ll find everything from Fleur de lis to Oriental Designs to Tree Frogs and many children’s patterns. You can purchase stencils individually or in collections of related images like The Secret Garden, At the Seashore, For a Princess, Old Fashioned Luggage Labels, Wine and Spirits, Angels, Cherubs and Antique Door Hardware. And best of all you can get your stencil as a downloadable pdf so that you can get your project off to a quick start. However, if it’s more stencil how to information that you seek then look no further. Just visit http://www.all-about-stencils.com (our sister site where you can find all you need to know).

Source: Penny Vedrenne

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