Create Your Own Festive Pumpkins Using Papier-Mache

Use materials you already have around the house to make realistic papier-mache pumpkins you can display year after year.

Noelle Johnson

I love fall AND pumpkins. Every year, I grow some pumpkins in my vegetable garden and then put them around my house. Sometimes, I also add a few ‘faux pumpkins’ that are made out of foam because I can use them year after year.  What I DON’T like about using ‘faux pumpkins’ is how expensive they can be.

So, I decided to make my own papier-mache pumpkins. This craft is easy to make and uses many items you probably already have.


  • Beach Ball
  • Twine
  • Newspaper (torn into strips)
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Salt & Cinnamon
  • Spray Paint
  • Small Cut Branch (1 inch)

How to Make Papier-Mache Pumpkins

Noelle Johnson

1. Blow up your beach ball, but not all the way.  Then take the twine and cut 3 pieces and tie each piece around a section of the ball (you will need someone to help you with this so you can tie the knot). Place the twine between the colored sections.

papier mache newspaper stripsNoelle Johnson

2. Cut your newspaper into 1 inch strips.

papier-mache mixNoelle Johnson

3. For the papier-mache mix, simply add 1 part all-purpose flour to 2 parts water.  Then add a little salt and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  The salt helps keep mold from forming on the papier-mache and the cinnamon helps cover up the ‘glue’ smell some people don’t like.

4. Mix ingredients together using a whisk. Add additional water or flour to get the right consistency.

papier-mache mixtureNoelle Johnson

Now you are ready to apply your paper strips to your beach ball. This can be a bit messy, so I recommend wearing an apron and covering your work surface with plastic trash bags.

5. Dip a newspaper strip into the mixture. Use your fingers to wipe away the excess and apply strip to the beach ball.

applying papier-macheNoelle Johnson

6. Apply each strip beginning at the top of the ball.  As you add new strips, slightly overlap them.

papier-mache pumpkin dryingNoelle Johnson

7. Each time you have finished applying a single layer of newspaper, you need to let it dry. (I used my laundry drying rack).
Apply a total of 4 layers.

papier-mache pumpkinsNoelle Johnson

8. Once your final layer has dried, your beach ball now more closely resembles a newspaper covered pumpkin.  Take a piece of fine-grit sandpaper and lightly sand any rough spots, if needed.

9. Now it’s time to spray-paint your pumpkins. First, start off with black spray paint that will cover all the white and black of the newspaper, which can show through. Spray paint over the top and sides of your new pumpkin and let dry. Then flip over and spray the bottom.

9. Do the same with either orange spray paint (for an orange pumpkin), or off-white spray paint (for a white pumpkin). I applied 2 coats with good results.

10. Once the paint has dried, glue a small 1 inch piece of a branch on the top.

Now you are done! And, they will last from year to year! Next, learn how to make a tipsy pumpkin planter.

These are NOT meant to be carved— it just won’t work. But, you can paint a jack-o-lantern face on them, or use a stencil to apply a design. There is a lot you can do to decorate them.

I will keep on growing pumpkins, but I will also proudly display my papier-mache pumpkins, too! Discover 5 fascinating facts about pumpkins.

Noelle Johnson
Noelle Johnson is a horticulturist, writer and certified arborist who lives and gardens in the desert Southwest. She is the CEO and owner of 'AZ Plant Lady,' an education company that aims to help people garden successfully in the desert climate. She is the author of the book, Dry Climate Gardening, and her byline has appeared in publications such as Birds & Blooms and Phoenix Home & Garden magazine. She is an instructor at the Desert Botanical garden and Tucson Botanical Gardens.