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Warty pumpkins and gourds are so cool. Right? Something about the texture and the imperfections that make them desirable to buy. But… they can be expensive. A lot more expensive than a regular old pumpkin. And I have yet to see any “warty pumpkins” that are fake that you can bring out each year during the Halloween season. Maybe they are out there, but I haven’t seen them yet. So, I did some experimenting with a few different techniques and came up a with a really easy and fun way to make your own warty pumpkins. The kids can help too… they will love it.

Ready? Let’s do this!

DIY Warty Pumpkin Supplies

This is what you’ll need to make your super warty pumpkin!

  • A pumpkin – it can be real or fake (about $7). You may want to get a bunch of smaller pumpkins like these (about $17) instead… that would be fun too!
  • Paint. I used Folk Art chalk paint in sheepskin and rich black, but you can use whatever you have lying around. If you want your pumpkin to be orange and it already is orange, you’ll still need to find some orange paint — I’d recommend the “cinnamon” colored chalk paint for a nice pumpkin color (about $5).
  • Fast Mache (the super secret ingredient) – Fast Mache is made from 100% recycled paper, dries pretty fast, and unlike regular clays you don’t have to bake it or anything to set the “clay” (about $10-$15).
  • Annie Sloan wax — I used clear and black wax (optional) — the brand is also optional.
  • Amy Howard dust of ages (optional) — you can now get this at Ace Hardware.
  • Mixing bowl, paper towels, a plastic spoon, pencil

Average cost: around $20-$40 depending on supplies you already have at home. I’d recommend using what you have rather than buying expensive paints and finishes. I had everything at home to make these except the mache and the pumpkin.

Process for making your warty pumpkin

First, you need to paint your pumpkin the color you want it to be when it’s finished. It will be easier if you paint it now so that you don’t have to get into all the nooks and crannies later when you have the mache on it. Let the paint dry completely. If you want the pumpkin to be orange, you can probably skip this step.

By the way, it helps if you have an “inspiration photo” of a warty pumpkin you like, so you can try to make it look similar.

Here are some cool warty pumpkins and gourds I used as inspiration photos to make my own. Aren’t they so cool?

Next, you’re going to mix up your mache and get to work. Use the “medium consistency” recipe on the box (3 parts mache to 1 part water). The first time around I added too much water and the mache was really stringy. I just rolled the mache in my hands to make balls and logs and stuck them on my pumpkin. If you have children to help you this is the time. They will love to play in this stuff and help you to roll the mache. And, it’s all paper and water so when you are done the wash-up is pretty easy. It does dry out your hands a bit though.

Once I got enough warts on my pumpkin, I started to take little pieces of the mache and plopped smaller balls/warts onto the other warts I already put on. It adds depth and makes it look more real if you do this.

Some techniques to make the warts look real

Ok once your pumpkin is thoroughly wartified you may need to smooth out the warts a bit to make them look natural. Here’s a few ways you can do this:

  • Plastic spoon: Use the back of a plastic spoon dipped in water to form nicer warts (lol). I used the edge of the spoon to break some of the warts into separate pieces, too.
  • Damp paper towel: Take a damp paper towel and press on all the warts to make sure they will stick. This also helps to make them smoother and less stringy/wild.
  • Back of pencil: Another technique you can try is using the back of a pencil wrapped in a damp paper towel to make some divets and depressions in the warts.

Satisfied? Ok great. Let the mache dry completely. This depends on your water/mache mix. It may be a few hours or even a day or two.

After the mache is dry, paint your warty pumpkin with the base color making sure you cover up all the mache and anything you missed the first time around.

A note about hot glue

Side note: I tried to make a warty pumpkin from just the hot glue gun and I didn’t like the way it was coming out. They really didn’t have any depth and some of the hot glue melted down the pumpkin. I would recommend skipping the hot glue and just using the paper mache. If you do end up trying the hot glue make sure you pull all the strings off before they dry. And, use it sparingly to add some extra warts. Basically don’t do what I did… it doesn’t work.

 

Getting creative with paint

Since I used chalk paint, I applied Annie Sloan clear and black wax… and a really cool product called “Dust of Ages” by Amy Howard. I put the wax and dust of ages into all the nooks and crannies and along the edges of the warts to add more depth and dimension. This step is optional.

If you don’t use chalk paint or want to use what you have on hand, you can also mix up a slightly darker color of paint and add it to the nooks and crannies of your pumpkin and warts. You can also get creative and paint your warts all different colors!

And there you have it. Super easy and fun! Since I used fake pumpkins I’ll be able to bring these bad boys out every year instead of having to buy them.

Below is the entire process in photos:

My first attempt at this was to use hot glue to create the warts. But -- they really didn't have any depth and some of the hot glue melted down the pumpkin. I would recommend skipping the hot glue and just using the paper mache. 

If you end up trying the hot glue make sure you pull all the strings off before they dry, and use it sparingly to add some extra warts.

Basically don't do what I did... it doesn't work. Onto the next step.

My first attempt at this was to use hot glue to create the warts. But -- they really didn't have any depth and some of the hot glue melted down the pumpkin. I would recommend skipping the hot glue and just using the paper mache. If you end up trying the hot glue make sure you pull all the strings off before they dry, and use it sparingly to add some extra warts. Basically don't do what I did... it doesn't work. Onto the next step.

Mix up your mache and roll it with your hands into ball or log shapes and stick them all over your pumpkin. Here's what it looked like after I applied the mache. It was quite sticky as I used too much water. Instead, use 1 part water per 3 parts mache and make sure you measure. I used that combination on the grey pumpkin and it worked a lot better. 

If you mess up like I did this will all be smoothed out in the next steps.

Mix up your mache and roll it with your hands into ball or log shapes and stick them all over your pumpkin. Here's what it looked like after I applied the mache. It was quite sticky as I used too much water. Instead, use 1 part water per 3 parts mache and make sure you measure. I used that combination on the grey pumpkin and it worked a lot better. If you mess up like I did this will all be smoothed out in the next steps.

Use the back of a plastic spoon dipped in water to form nicer warts (lol). 

I used the edge of the spoon to break some of the warts into separate pieces, too.

Use the back of a plastic spoon dipped in water to form nicer warts (lol). I used the edge of the spoon to break some of the warts into separate pieces, too.

Take a damp paper towel and press on all the warts to make sure they will stick. This also helps to make them smoother and less stringy/wild.

Take a damp paper towel and press on all the warts to make sure they will stick. This also helps to make them smoother and less stringy/wild.

After smoothing the warts with a damp paper towel. Looks much better, right?

After smoothing the warts with a damp paper towel. Looks much better, right?

Another technique you can try is using the back of a pencil wrapped in a damp paper towel to make some divets and depressions in the warts.

Another technique you can try is using the back of a pencil wrapped in a damp paper towel to make some divets and depressions in the warts.

Ok. Time to let this dry! Once it's dry you'll have to paint the entire pumpkin again!

Ok. Time to let this dry! Once it's dry you'll have to paint the entire pumpkin again!

After applying the mache to the grey pumpkin I repainted the entire thing making sure to get inside of all the wart nooks and crannies.

After applying the mache to the grey pumpkin I repainted the entire thing making sure to get inside of all the wart nooks and crannies.

Here's my finished

Here's my finished "white" pumpkin after applying Annie Sloan clear and black wax... and a really cool product called "Dust of Ages" by Amy Howard.

I used a similar technique on the grey pumpkin -- clear and black wax along with some Dust of Ages. I also added some spots of lighter grey paint to the bumps to add a little more contrast/roughness.

I used a similar technique on the grey pumpkin -- clear and black wax along with some Dust of Ages. I also added some spots of lighter grey paint to the bumps to add a little more contrast/roughness.

Final shot of the grey and white warty pumpkins

Final shot of the grey and white warty pumpkins

Wrapping Up

This DIY Warty pumpkin tutorial is super easy and fun… and you can get the kids involved. Just paint your pumpkin and then mix up your paper mache. Roll the mache into wart shapes and glop them onto the pumpkin. After that you add additional warts on top of the warts for more depth. I used the back of a spoon to smooth out the mache a bit and divide some larger warts into smaller ones. Then, I used a damp paper towel and lightly pushed on the mache to smooth it out even more and make sure it was sticking everywhere. This was the key to getting that stringy stuff out. Pushing the back of a pencil wrapped in a damp paper towel will add some divets and depressions to your warts. Once it’s all dry you can recoat your pumpkin with paint and decorate until your heart is content.

I’d love to see what you came up with, post your pictures in the comments below!

-Amy

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