Mache Pumpkin from Plastic Bags

This pumpkin is made from about 40 plastic grocery bags, some Saran wrap, 3 rubber bands, newspaper, paper towel and mache, topped off with a beautiful new orange glitter paint I found at Jo-Ann Fabrics. I’m so excited to have found this beautiful way to recycle plastic grocery bags.
Plastic Bag Pumpkin Tutorial
1. Collect about 40 plastic bags and loosely stuff them inside each other, one at a time. Compress lightly and tie bag shut with a slipknot at the top.

2. To smooth the surface, wrap the outside of the bag with a few long pieces of Saran Wrap. Overlap as necessary to keep edges lying flat. Take a rubberband (I used a 3″ dia.) and slip around the center of the ball. Repeat with 2 more rubberbands, adjusting them evenly.

Adjust your rubberbands on top to be as close to the “stem” as possible, and the bottom to make a nicely centered crisscross as shown above.

3. Cover the pumpkin with one layer of paper mache. Be sure to run your finders through the creases often so that they stay prominent and don’t get smoothed over. For my favorite mache recipe, click here. Let dry overnight. Repeat with another layer of newspaper and let dry.

4. This step really helps to smooth out the bumps and gives you a nice white background to paint on. Cover the pumpkin with one layer of mache and paper towels.

5. I painted my pumpkin with two shades of Americana® orange acrylic paint. First a darker Cadmium Orange, then highlights of Jack-O-Lantern Orange, and finally Holly Green for the stem. After the paint dried, I added a layer of “Craft Twinkles Orange” from DecoArt®. It’s a kind of gel-looking paint that not only adds glitter, but a nice shine as well.

I’m going to experiment next with making more of these in different sizes. I think for elementary age students though, this size or larger would be best. This pumpkin measures about 8″ in diameter.

19 Responses

  1. polwig

    That looks great… what a wonderful way to recycle old bags… fun fun fun

  2. Yo' Mama

    Wow! What a great way to bring in fall! Can’t wait to do this with my girls. Thank you so much!!

  3. Anonymous

    I have been saving piles of plastic bags, hoping to come up with a creative way to use them in my art classes! Thank you for this great idea!

  4. Panda

    oh i love this idea! i am going to show the kids at the UGM how to do this!

  5. Chinmayee

    I like your idea …. I’ll ask my mom to help me to prepare thos soon it’ll come on my Blog

  6. Anonymous

    I checked out your mache recipe and I’m wondering how many gallons do you think I would need for about 20 pumpkins?

    Love this idea! Thank you!

  7. Kathy Barbro

    Hi Anonymous,
    I would guess that I used a total of 5 cups of mache to make my sample pumpkin. If possible though, I would make extra as kids to tend to spill…just a bit…

  8. Melissa

    This is so wonderful. My little preschooler will love this. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Kids @ Art

    Looks fab. Of course, I will need to find an alternative to plastic bags, as I use mine to pick up after my 2 large dogs, but I’m sure shredded paper stuffed inside a bag will work just as well. Thank you for sharing!

  10. bipsy

    that is so cool! i will tell my teacher all about it and show her the pumpkin. amazing!

  11. Cristina

    Thank you for this great idea and thank you for sharing!! I can’t wait to do this with my artists!! :)
    Cristina from Barcelona

  12. Aiming4Simple

    Saw this on The Craft Crow and loved it! I’m wondering if the plastic bags could be removed after the mache dries, to make a hollow interior for a pinata. Perhaps I’ll soon find out…

  13. Marisa

    Oh, thank you! I’ve been wanting to make one of those brown paper bag mache pumpkins, but didn’t know what to use for my form. This is perfect!

  14. La classe màgica

    Thanks for sharing Kathy! Here there are :)
    BIG HUG from Barcelona, Spain.


  15. Kathy Barbro

    Oh my Cristina – Those pumpkins are SO adorable. And the colors are to die for! Could I possibly post a link to your post? I’d love to share the fun color approach you took with your students.

  16. Jane LaFazio

    this is fabulous!! love yours and those kids from barcelona, with their excellent color choices.

    I teach an free afterschool art program, and just found your site. love it!

  17. Haniza

    I’m from Malaysia and I’ve tried this one out with my son. We made another figure just to add more fun to it! Thanks for the great site!

  18. CAS

    This is just so clever and cute. Thank you so much for sharing.
    :) CAS

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