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autumn decor tutorials



the Original Sweet Sweater Pumpkins
FREE Tutorial HERE

the 'Sweet Sweater Pumpkins' product name protected by copyright 2007-2020 
and may not be used by any other entity.
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Faux Concrete Pumpkins


Transform some gaudy orange Dollar Tree pumpkins into concrete classics:

Supplies:
styrofoam pumpkins (this canteloupe-sized pumpkin is $1.00 at the Dollar Tree)
acrylic / craft paint in white, black, and dove gray - matte finish
cup of water
palette (I use a paper plate)
paint brushes - large for base coat, smaller for details
and A SECRET INGREDIENT to be divulged later!

Instructions:
Step 1:
First, basecoat the entire pumpkin with white paint. Let dry.
Step 2:
Mix some gray paint into white paint on the palette,
then cover the pumpkins completely with this color.

(I left the stems unpainted until the end so I could use them as 'handles' while painting)

You will now be working in a 'Wet on Wet' paint technique, 
which means you will move on to the next step before the paint dries completely...
Step 3:
 Pour some straight gray paint onto the palette. 
Mix in a bit of water to create a runny consistency, to create a 'wash'.
Using a smaller detail brush, paint the grooves of the pumpkin with the gray wash,
and also the whole bottom (underneath) of the pumpkin.
Before the paint dries,
Step 4:

Add a little bit of water to the pale gray paint left on your palette (from step 2)
and brush it with a 'scrubbing' motion over the edges of the dark gray lines in the grooves.
You want to smooth out the edges, not cover all of the dark gray.
Leave some of the dark gray visible on the bottom of the pumpkin.
At this point, I painted the stems with the dark gray color.

Still working with wet paint over wet paint,
Step 5:
Add a bit more white paint to the lightest gray to make a very light gray wash.
Use the smaller detail brush to 'scrub' the white paint
across the top edges of the ridges on the pumpkin.
Blend this color in well so there are no divisions of color on the pumpkin - just smooth transitions.

While the paint is still wet...

Step 6:
Now is when when we bring in the SECRET INGREDIENT!
It's FLOUR. Bleached flour.
Yes, really....
Wet a small brush with a tiny bit of water, then pick up some flour and put it on the pumpkin, 
in the hollows and grooves of the pumpkin, where the gray wash is wet.
Wet your small brush and pick up more and more flour to get it all over the top and upper side surfaces.
 After the flour is on the pumpkin, use your fingers to press it into the wet paint and smooth it a bit.
Don't forget the bottom!

Let the pumpkin sit to dry for a few minutes.
The flour will absorb some of the paint's moisture, 
causing it to stick to the pumpkin.
After it is dry, brush LIGHTLY with your fingers to remove loose flour.
The flour left on the surface gives the finish the look of dry, flaking concrete.

It's not needed, but if you wish, you can spray the whole pumpkin with matte clear sealer
 ( or with hairspray. Works just as well!)
 Your pumpkins will look like they are made of concrete - but they will weigh almost nothing!

This painting method will also work on plastic pumpkin buckets, 
making them look like hollow concrete planters & vases.
.(spray the inside of the bucket with gray outdoor furniture paint so it's waterproof)
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Glass Globe Pumpkins
here's how to make my original pumpkins out of these white glass LIGHT COVER GLOBES
(you know, the old 'porch and hall light' kind?)
find some white glass globes.
try to find different sizes and textures: hobnail, ribbed, smooth, crackled,
or, if you are lucky, a scalloped one like i found 
[they generally cost under $5 each at thrift shops]
but do not steal them from your neighbors' porch lights!!!


wash the globes, let them dry, and then add a 'stem' 
on the end of the globe that has a small hole (or no hole). 
the end of the globe with the large opening will be the base that it sits on.
here's how I created the stems shown in my images here:
 1. twist a bit of aluminum foil into a 'stem' shape - long or short, up to you.
push one end of the foil stem into the small hole at the top of a glass globe.
starting at the base of the stem (nearest the glass globe), 
wrap cotton string, hemp twine, yarn, ribbon, fabric strips, 
or any other material around the foil to hide it. 
use hot glue to adhere the material to the foil stem as you work from base to tip.
then bend the stem into a pleasing curve, and you're done!
2. hot glue a wooden thread spool to the top of a glass globe without a small hole.
wrap some string, twine, burlap, muslin, or ribbon remnant around it and tie a knot.
EASY!
you can display these pumpkins indoors or out.
by adding a strand of mini-lights, a battery-operated votive candle, 
or even a GLOW STICK inside the large opening, 
they will light up a room or porch with a soft glow.
please do not use anything with a flame to illuminate them.
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Faux Terra Cotta Paint Tutorial
art class, color, color palettes, crafting, crafting with kids, decorating, DIY, diy decorating, fall, painting, pumpkins, re-purposing, up-cycling, tutorial, painting tutorial, faux paint treatment, faux terra cotta paint tutorial, painted pumpkins, fall decor, front porch decor, october decorating, farmhouse style, boho style, rustic style, cottage style, faux terra cotta pumpkins, use what you have decorating, autumn decor, Halloween decor

art class, color, color palettes, crafting, crafting with kids, decorating, DIY, diy decorating, fall, painting, pumpkins, re-purposing, up-cycling, tutorial, painting tutorial, faux paint treatment, faux terra cotta paint tutorial, painted pumpkins, fall decor, front porch decor, october decorating, farmhouse style, boho style, rustic style, cottage style, faux terra cotta pumpkins, use what you have decorating, autumn decor, Halloween decor
this 'before' and 'after' shot shows how you can transform pumpkins -
plastic, foam, resin, cement, or ceramic! -
 into terra cotta (clay) classics with this easy paint tutorial
(it's very similar to my popular faux concrete pumpkins paint tutorial)
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Supplies:
pumpkins made from plastic, cement, resin, styrofoam, even glass
(the small styrofoam pumpkin used in these photos is from Dollar Tree Stores,
the larger one is a foam 'Funkin' from a thrift shop)

acrylic / craft paint in white, brown, and orange - matte finish
cup of water
palette (I use a plastic plate)
paint brushes - flat/wide for base coat, pointed/thin for details
a thin soft cotton rag or towel

Instructions:
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Step 1:

mix the orange, white, and brown paint to create a 'terra cotta' hue -
use a plant pot or other real terra cotta piece as reference.
(the pumpkin seen in the top left photo here is a real terra cotta pumpkin)

then basecoat the entire pumpkin with this color. 
TIP: styrofoam pumpkins tend to need two coats.
they work best if you apply the paint in two opposite directions - brush coat 1 from the top, coat 2 from the bottom.

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Step 2:
mix some white paint into the terra cotta color paint on the palette,
then add a bit of water to make the paint a runny 'wash' consistency.
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use a large flat brush lightly loaded with the paint wash.
with a light touch, apply it to the raised areas on each pumpkin ridge.

apply the paint to one ridge at a time - then quickly use the soft cotton rag to lightly rub the paint,
smoothing it along the ridge to
 soften the edges of the paint so they fade out.

(I left the stems unpainted until the end so I could use them as 'handles' while painting)

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Step 3:
 mix more white paint into the 'wash' on the palette. 

using a smaller detail brush, paint the grooves of the pumpkin with the wash,
just as you did with the raised ridges in the last step.
paint one or two grooves at a time - then quickly use the soft cotton rag to lightly rub the paint,
smoothing it along the groove to
 soften the edges of the paint so they fade out.

TIP: i paint from the bottom up to the middle, rubbing each one with the cloth,
then i paint from the stem down to the middle.


if you plan to use your painted pumpkins outdoors,
i recommend spraying them with matte clear sealer.

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Ping Pong Paddle Pumpkins

a simple DIY project that even kids will love!


you'll need:
new or used ping pong paddles, cleaned with a clorox wipe
craft paint or house paint (flat paint is best) + paint brushes
matte or satin clear varnish spray

note: ping pong paddles have two sides - one is smooth rubber (red, here)
and one is textured 'nubby' rubber (black, here). the nubby side takes more paint to cover.

how-to:
 paint the paddle with a background color using a wide flat brush. paint edges neatly.
let dry between coats - it will take two or three coats to cover the rubber.
after the paddle part is dry, paint the handle with a contrasting color. two coats will cover.

* DO ONE SIDE AT A TIME!*

using thinner detail paint brushes and additional colors of paint,
add shading details for 'realistic' pumpkins, or fun patterns like dots or argyle just for fun!

if you will be using them in outdoor decor, spray them with matte or satin clear varnish.
course, you can paint a ping pong paddle to be other things... like cacti: 


or maybe a snowman head, or a snowball for winter.
a colorful egg for spring.
a watermelon for summer?

be creative!
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$5 Wreath Makeover
Supplies:

an old fall wreath that you already own, or from the thrift store
branches of leaves - faux from the Dollar Store, or real from your yard
wire cutters or garden shears to trim branches

NOTE: these tips work for wreaths ANY season of the year...
simply use greens and flowers, snowy pine branches, or other elements instead of fall leaves.
1. spread the branches of leaves out on the Dollar store bunches, 
and slide the leaves up toward the ends of each branch.

2. cut all of the small branches of leaves off of the larger branches, as shown here.
leave @5 to 6 inch stems on them.

you'll end up with a large supply of short-stemmed leaf bunches.
3. choose one type of leaf to start with - i selected the dull brown leaves to use first, 
because i wanted them to be in the 'background' of the arrangement.
simply begin inserting the stems right into the existing wreath at regular intervals
[think of it like a clock, and insert them at 12,3,6, and 9...etc.]
by pushing the stems into the wreath structure, they should stay in place with no problem.
[you can always add a drop of hot glue if you are worried about windy conditions, etc.]
when you tuck them in, nestle them behind the existing foliage as shown here.
continue around the wreath until you have used all of that type of leaf. 
you'll have a balanced arrangement working with one type at a time.

this has already filled out the wreath, making it more lush and abundant

4. now take the brighter, more vibrantly-colored leaves and insert them into the wreath
place them closer to the front of the arrangement, right next to the existing flowers, etc.

again, place them evenly around the wreath
[at 2,4,6,8,10, and 12 on the clock, for instance]
this helps to keep the wreath's rounded shape intact as you work.
after adding the additional leaves, the wreath looks three times its original size!

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Painted Pumpkin Pail
This is an easy craft project that makes use of an everyday item,
is a perfect teacher's gift, and.... it's a timeless idea!

NOTE: This Tutorial can also be used to create Painted Pails for other seasons...
for photo inspiration, see THIS POST
Materials:
tin cans - any size, clean, dry, and with one end removed.
white spray paint (satin or gloss)
clear spray paint (any finish)
craft paints in orange, yellow, white, and brown
various sized artist's paint brushes
water to clean brushes
an old fashioned bottle opener (has a pointed end)
a screwdriver with a long shank
 thin baling wire

Project Time:
@ 30 minutes
+ can be made in multiples at once
 1. Sit the tin can in a protected area for spray painting with the can bottom facing up.
2. It's easy to place two boxes together as shown to create a draft-free mini spray booth.
3. Spray one side of the can with the white paint. let dry for ten minutes,
turn can around, and spray the other side.

*OPTIONAL*
You may, at this point, choose to spray the can with a second coat of paint - in ORANGE.
This will enable you to skip step 5 below.
 4. Take the can, now dry, out of the paint box and move it to a table work area.
 5. Paint the can with the orange craft paint, using a large, flat brush.
[ art class #101: acrylic paints work best with synthetic brushes ]
6. Use a smaller flat brush and white paint to paint a jack o' lantern face on one side of the can.
Use two thin coats of white paint for best effect.
7. Clean that brush in water, and use it again with the yellow paint to fill in all of the white areas. 
Use two coats for best effect and brightest color.
 8. You can leave the face as-is, or add more detail using a small brush and paint mixed into more colors...
Shown here, there is a peachy-orange color pumpkin 'flesh' detail,
with a dark edge on the 'inside' and a white highlight on the 'outside', 
to make it look more like a carved pumpkin.

9. When the details are dry, put the can back into the spray box,
and spray it with clear sealer on both sides.
10. After the sealer is dry, remove the can from the spray box and go back to the table.
Place the can with the painted face toward you, and lay the 'old fashioned bottle opener' across the can. 
 11. Using the bottle opener's pointed end, poke a hole in the side of the can from the outside.
12. Reposition the bottle opener to the inside of the can,
 and press the triangle of cut tin up and toward the rim of the can.
13. Continue pressing the point of the tin triangle until it curls under into itself,
presses up against the inside edge of the can, and the point is no longer visible.
14. Repeat on other side of can.

*OPTIONAL*
You can also use a drill to put two small holes into the sides of the can.
 15. Cut a length of baling wire @ 18" long. BEND (not fold) it into a large loop, 
and thread each end of the wire through the holes on the sides of the can. 
16. Bend the end of the wire up and around the loop on each side, as tightly as you can to secure.

17. Wrap each end wire tightly around the screwdriver shank to create a corkscrew curl.
slide the curl off of the shank, and bend into position. Repeat on other side.

When complete, your Painted Pumpkin Pail will look like the lil' guy on the left above!
Add a ribbon and fill him up with candy, treats, a plant, a candle,
or even a Sweet Sweater Pumpkin!
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Frosted Fall Leaves


what you need:
white flat paint + a paper towel to 'dab' paint on
very soft paintbrushes - i used makeup brushes!
dried deciduous leaves in several sizes - some flat, some curled for dimension
a branch to attach them to after painting is optional

how to do it:
the paint technique i am using here is called 'dry brushing'... 
using very little paint, the brush will deposit a thin layer of paint on the object.

1. to get this effect, simply dip the very tips of your brush into the paint. lightly!
2. swipe/dab the brush on the paper towel, to remove all but the very last amount of paint.
3. carefully and lightly, drag the brush across the leaf surface to deposit a thin veil of white paint.
on the back side, the paint will pick out all of the veining on the leaf.
on the front side, the paint will cover the surface.
4. run a small brush with paint very lightly along the edges to highlight them.

i chose to use a very very light coat of paint, while the leaves in Ann's image have more coverage.
paint according to your preference -
but for more coverage, do TWO light coats, not one thick one.
the paint is dry almost immediately, so you can quickly hot glue the leaves to branches if you wish.

you can also paint just the edge of the leaf to highlight it,
then use a very thin wash of white paint and a small pointed brush (or a paint pen) to add a name...
and use these leaves as 'placecards' in your tablescape!
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Vintage Paper Leaves
Supplies:
vintage paper (sheet music, dictionary pages, book pages, sewing patterns)
sharp scissors
a real or fabric leaf (any size or variety) to trace
pencil or pen
thin ruler - metal is best, if possible
a real branch (any kind, any size) with lots of small branches attached
tacky glue or hot glue
a container to hold the real branch
some kind of filler for the container to stabilize the branch
(popcorn kernels, rocks, sand, candy corn, etc.)
1. lay vintage paper flat, and use pen/pencil to trace around the real/fabric leaf.
fit as many on each page as you can, 
and try to place the real leaf in different directions as you go - 
this will keep all of your leaves from having the writing on the paper
going in the same direction.
2. carefully cut out each leaf using scissors.
3. fold each leaf over thin ruler edge, 
creating a sharp crease down the center of every leaf.
4. using the pencil/pen, curl the leaf edges either up or down.
(don't curl them both ways on the same leaf)
this makes the leaves look a little more natural. 
oh, and if a leaf tears while you are doing this?
no worries. real leaves tear and it will just look more realistic ;0)  
5. fill container with filler, then place branch into position.
6. using hot glue or tacky glue, 
place a drop of glue on either side of the center of each leaf - 
but JUST at the BASE of the leaf. 
the glue dots should be the size of the eraser of your pencil.
7. quickly take the leaf and bend it around one of the smaller branches.
hold it there until it sets (just a few seconds)
continue gluing all leaves to the smaller branches.
8. after all leaves have been glued to the branch, and the glue has dried,
go back and GENTLY GENTLY
[is it just me, or does anyone else hear Westley the Farm Boy from 'The Princess Bride' saying that?!]
bend the leaves a bit.  
just 'nudge' them to make their shapes look more individual.
Leaves can be made from any paper at all:
wrapping paper, comic books, old book illustrations, magazine pages...
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Bleached Leaves
Supplies:
*a large rectangular rubbermaid storage bin with lid
(you'll sit the lid on top but will NOT seal it closed)

*a gallon of chlorine bleach [generic brand is ok for this]
*an equal amount of cool clean water
*real leaves 

leaf-gathering  tips:
*waxy leaves don't do well. thicker leaves, like oak and maple, get the best results.
*use leaves that are as dried out as you can find – greener leaves get 'gooey'.
*don't raid from public places or your neighbors' yard without asking!
*check with local landscape service companies to get free branches & leaves from their yard trimmings.


Process:
*lay the branches of leaves as flat as possible in a large rubbermaid-type storage container.
 
*fill container with enough 1/2 and 1/2 mix of COLD water to bleach to cover the leaves. place the container cover on top - but DO NOT SEAL IT.
 
***Keep Children & Pets AWAY From This Project!***
*check on them every two hours or so. when they have lightened to your liking,  pour a gallon of cool clear water into the container to dilute the bleach solution. 

*carefully dump or dip the bleach solution out of the container into a large bucket. dispose of the solution in your toilet or bathtub drain - NOT into your driveway, gutter, or yard.  
*rinse leaves in clear, cool water to get the bleach residue off.
*lay flat and let them air-dry.
*you may have to use a drop of hot glue to re-attach them onto the stem/branch.
*spray them with clear spray paint to 'seal' them against weather if you want.
this method works on cheap fabric leaves from the dollar store, too!


[disclaimer: the bleached leaves shown in my photos in this and the last post
were purchased at a craft store years ago. i did not bleach those leaves myself.]
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Homemade Clay Mini Pumpkins
Whether you use colored clay or paint the finished pumpkins, 
this clay craft is something the whole family can enjoy -
and it's made using ingredients from your pantry!

CORNSTARCH CLAY Mini PUMPKINS

1 c. cornstarch
1 1/2 c. baking soda
1 c. cold water
Food coloring if you wish to use colored clay

Saucepan
Toothpicks
Cookie Sheet

Combine ingredients in saucepan.
Stir gently while cooking on medium heat stovetop until liquid solidifies and clay forms. 
Remove from heat. Turn off burner.
Remove clay from saucepan and place on cutting board to let cool.

Knead clay for a few minutes to create smooth texture. If the clay cracks as you knead it, add a few drops of water and keep kneading.
Form balls of various sizes. [For best drying results, do not make balls larger than 2" diameter.]
Press down on top of ball lightly to form a more pumpkin-like shape.
Use toothpick to score lines like pumpkin grooves. 
Make indentation on top of pumpkin for stem to sit in.

Form small cylinder,  and squish both ends to look like a stem.
Place stem into indentation on top of pumpkin, and use toothpick to press edges together. 
[you can break a toothpick and insert it into the middle of the stem, then into the pumpkin to help anchor it, if you wish]

**my friend David at BasilicusJones Home used real twigs, broken into small lengths, for his stems. Cute idea!**
Add details into pumpkins to make faces, if you wish, using toothpicks, nut picks, dental tools, etc.

Place on cookie sheet and Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees, or harden at room temperature overnight. 

Paint if you wish, then seal with clear acrylic spray paint.
When not being used, store in a ziploc plastic bag to prevent moisture from  reaching pumpkins.


find all of my autumn home decor posts here