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.

21 Responses

  1. kathybarbro

    Thank you Meg, you have just left about the greatest blog comment ever. If I had a room full of enthusiastic students like you, I would be over the moon. Please send me a photo of your pumpkin if you have a chance. I would love to see it!

  2. Meg

    This is so cool!
    I’m not up to painting yet, but it still looks great with the paper towels!
    My mom found this thing online where you use a balloon and string for the base, but that was WAAAYYYYYY to hard so i looked it up again and I found this one and it looks great and the paper towels look like plaster and its so cool and easy it takes a while but its worth it i cant wait for halloween and Monday when i show my teacher and its gonna look sooooooooooooo cool and i wish my parents would make a couple as well but they say that i do it cuz they dont feel like it its so cool so THANKYOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. […] Read more: Mache Pumpkin from Plastic Bags | Art Projects for Kids […]

  4. CAS

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

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. La classe màgica

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


  9. 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!

  10. 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…

  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. bipsy

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

  13. 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!

  14. Melissa

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

  15. 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…

  16. 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!

  17. Chinmayee

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

  18. Panda

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

  19. 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!

  20. Yo' Mama

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

  21. polwig

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

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