Glowing Eyes in the Darkness: Jack-O-Lanterns

Spooky Pumpkin
It just wouldn’t be Halloween without a few carved pumpkins, also known as Jack-O-Lanterns. Patterns are readily available online, or you can flex your creative muscles by coming up with your own designs. What does your pumpkin say about you? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Carved Pumpkins
From the goofy to the spooky, there’s something for everyone.

Pumpkin Trio
There are numerous options for lighting your pumpkins: Lit candles flicker in the breeze. LEDs produce high intensity and sometimes color-changing light. Glow sticks give off softer, otherworldly light. Spotlights and flashlights light up the face while also creating some eerie dark shadows inside the pumpkin.

Awestruck Pumpkin
Even pumpkins have moments of surprise and awe. I wonder what he sees?

Monster Pumpkin
Little details make all the difference. This carved pumpkin owes its devilishly good looks to the absence of a nose. That one little detail, plus the intensity of the light within, gives him a more ghoulish appeal.

Jaws Pumpkin
This one brings a whole new meaning to the name “Jaws.” After carving the teeth, the orange skin around the perimeter of the mouth was removed to reveal the white flesh beneath. If that seems like too much work, you could use a white Sharpie marker to define the mouth.

Jack Skelleton Pumpkin
Nightmare Before Christmas is a very popular Halloween movie and decorating theme, and this pumpkin doesn’t disappoint. A little dry ice, or a fog machine takes the spooky vibe to a whole new level.

Cat & Spider Pumpkin
Cat lovers will appreciate this creative design. Black cats and spiders are staples in Halloween décor.

Scary Pumpkin
This frightening character has menacing eyes surrounded by flames above and below.

Scary Ghost Pumpkin
This ghoulish ghost is another Tim Burton inspired design from his nightmare movie.

Pumpkin Happy Hour
It’s Happy Hour for Jack-O-Lanterns only! Honestly, if I saw a gathering like this in my backyard, I would probably run away! It looks like a scene from a Steven King movie.

Pumpkin carving isn’t for everyone. There’s also nothing wrong with displaying your pumpkins “as is” with the added bonus of being able to keep them on display for Thanksgiving too.

Painted Pumpkins
If you like to paint, you could paint designs on real or artificial pumpkins. These decorated pumpkins can be accomplished with a few Sharpie markers, and they will last longer than the carved variety.

Lamppost Pumpkins
Another great option is painting a wooden plaque like the one shown above. It can be used for years and is very inexpensive to make. Over time, the sun, wind and weather can take their toll. Whether you are painting a brand new pumpkin, or giving a makeover to an existing one, the steps are the same.

How to Paint and /or Repaint a Wooden Outdoor Halloween Decoration:

Supplies:
Wooden Pumpkin Decoration (30” high x 22” wide x 1/2” thick)
Orange Outdoor Spray Paint – OR – Orange Outdoor Acrylic Paint (See Step 2)
Outdoor Acrylic Paint – black, green & brown
Paintbrush
Sandpaper
Black Sharpie Marker

Faded Original Pumpkins
Step 1 – First you will need to clean off the dirt and debris, and lightly sand the surface and edges in preparation for paint.

Orange Spray Paint
Step 2 – You have two painting options here: Spray Painting versus Brush on Painting.
For Spray Painting: Apply multiple coats of orange outdoor spray paint. To be honest, I’m not a fan of spray paint due to the toxic fumes.  I also was not satisfied with the paint coverage. I’m not sure why, but the consistency was very thin like water.

Three Coats Acrylic
For Brush on Painting: – Apply 3 coats of orange outdoor acrylic paint with a brush. Be sure to coat all the edges and the back of the plaque as well to protect and seal the wood from water damage.

Green & Brown Details
Step 3 – Add details such as stems, leaves, and the surrounding ground at the edges. You may want to outline the details first with a Sharpie marker.

Black Lines
Step 4 – Draw the faces and add curved lines to give the pumpkins a three-dimensional effect. Outline the leaves and stems in black to make them stand out better.

Black Paint
Step 5 – Fill in the faces with black paint.

Before & After Pumpkins
After spending a day at the spa, these pumpkins have been renewed, rejuvenated, and are ready to greet your guests at the door. The choice of pumpkins is up to you. Whether you decide to use real, artificial, or any other material, the enjoyment and celebration of the holiday will always come through in festive style.

Happy Halloween & Happy Crafting!

Walk on the Wild Side

Triceratops
Whose turn is it to walk the dog – I mean dinosaur? Something tells me that 25-foot leash will not be long enough! Dinosaurs are real fan favorites. You can’t get much wilder than that. And what’s not to love?

Dinosaur Eggs
A Dinosaur Nursery – They’re kind of cute at this stage.

Dinosaur
Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood they seem to lose their charm! (lol)

Dinosaur Skeleton
Even when they’re dead, they instill an odd mixture of fear and fascination. Movie Director Steven Spielberg brought dinosaurs back to life on the big screen in the epic movie, Jurassic Park – an emotional roller coaster, that started with awe and wonder, but quickly escalated to bone chilling terror.

 Stegosaurus
We love dinosaurs anyway. Want proof? Look at all the books, movies, television shows, and merchandise. At some point, every kid draws and colors his or her favorite dinosaur. Here’s your chance to feel like a kid again. Grab some paints and brushes and let’s go!

How to Paint a Wooden Stegosaurus
With a little paint you can design your own dinosaur. It can be as simple as a single coat of paint, or as detailed as you like. First we need a little inspiration.
Iguana
Iguana Closeup
Since dinosaurs lived sixty-five million years ago, there’s no one around to tell us exactly what they looked like. For this project, photos of creatures living today, such as iguanas and lizards, can be inspirational. Check out those spines!

Raw Wood Dinosaur
This carved wood stegosaurus, available at AC Moore, has sturdy legs, making it a freestanding, three-dimensional piece. Both sides and all the edges will need to be painted. Due to the raw nature of wood, it may require sanding, especially along the edges. (There are several types of animals in this carved wood collection. To see a painted flamingo project, please click here.)

Paints
Supplies:
Wooden Stegosaurus (4-1/4” high x 7-1/4” wide x 1-1/4” thick)
Acrylic Paints – black, brown & metallic green
1) Bottle fabric paint – brown
Paintbrushes
Sandpaper

Dinosaur Painted Green
Step 1 – Paint the dinosaur with green acrylic paint, including both sides and all edges. The great thing about paint is that it’s cheap. Feel free to experiment. If you don’t like the results, it can be easily changed.

Dinosaur Tail Detail
Seeing it in color revealed a major anatomical mistake in the tail design. If you loved dinosaurs as a kid, you’ll remember that the stegosaurus has spikes on the top of its tail. The artist chose to curl the tail underneath, and as a result, mistakenly placed the spikes on the underside of the tail. This poor animal would have trouble walking because the spikes would continually get caught on the ground as it moved through the forest, making it easy prey.

Dinosaur with Cut Tail
Step 2 – To make it right, cut off the tip of the tail as shown.

Dinosaur Painted Black
Step 3 – Turn the cut tail piece around, and glue it in place. Paint the entire figure black as a base coat, which will help delineate the scales added in a later step. Looks much better doesn’t it?

Dinosaur with Fabric Paint
Step 4 – Paint the top of the head, the back plates, and the tail with brown fabric paint. Paint the sides of each plate with green fabric paint and add spikes along the sides of the tail.  Brown acrylic paint was applied with a brush in between the back plates, because it was too narrow to fit the tube of fabric paint.

Dinosaur Scale Pattern
Step 5 – Add brown fabric paint on top of each leg and more spikes along the entire length of body. Create a scale pattern on the body using metallic green paint, and use the same color in the sides of the plates on his back.

Finished Dinosaur
Step 6 – Add a small dotted pattern to each leg. Paint the head brown, and add a few green scales along with the eyes. Congratulations! You now have your very own pet dinosaur. Fortunately for you, he’s a “Veggiesaurus,” unlike the one in the next photo.

Dinosaur Jaws
What a view, right? Thank goodness this is only an observation tower! Because if it was real… It would be the last thing you ever saw.

Happy Crafting!

What do Pigs & Cats have in Common? Decoupage

Spotted Piglet
Look at that little face! Is he cute or what? The inspiration for this project is an adorable spotted piglet. In a previous post, “Year of the Pig 2019,” I mentioned my brother’s affinity for pigs. We usually find a way to include a pig at any gift-giving occasion. Sometimes it’s just a card, or a flying pig ornament for the Christmas tree. We all share the same sense of humor, and the more ridiculous the pig, the greater the laughter.

Pig Plaque Details
For my brother’s birthday this year, I decided to combine two of his favorites: pigs and cats. Believe it or not, he and his wife share their home with 11 feline fur babies. Yes, you read that correctly. That’s a lot of mouths to feed! Each cat started out in life under very difficult circumstances, but after being rescued, they live comfortable, happy lives filled with play and lots of tender loving care. Such an unusual family deserves an equally unique family portrait.

How to Create a Wooden Pig Photo Plaque
On a recent visit to AC Moore, I noticed a large wooden pig plaque. It was really cute, but I held off buying until I could come up with something my brother would appreciate, and ended up liking the idea of a family portrait. The pig is large enough to accommodate photos of all eleven cats with my brother and his wife in the center. Any  size or shape plaque will work as long as it is large enough to fit all the images. You could also create a plaque to commemorate a special event, such as a graduation, a birthday, or your favorite vacation. Let’s get started.

Raw Wooden Pig
You may need to do some light sanding to ensure the surface and edges are smooth.

Pig Photo Plaque Supplies
Supplies:
Wooden Pig (20-1/2” wide x 11-1/4” high x 1/2” thick)
Acrylic Paint – tan & black
1) Jar of Mod Podge Gloss
1) Oval Mop Paintbrush
1) Elmer’s Permanent Glue Stick
2) Paintbrushes – one for base coat, and a fine brush for details
Heavyweight Matte Finish Photo Paper
Sandpaper
Scissors

Photo Layout
You might want to print a quick draft version of your photos to make it easier to layout on the plaque. This will also give you a chance to experiment with different ways of cutting them out to make your design look more attractive. Be sure to reprint your photos on heavyweight paper for the final project. If you try to use regular printer paper, it will bubble and curl as soon as you apply the Mod Podge, and you’ll have to peel it off and start over. How do I know this you ask? Because it happened to me! It was awful!

How NOT to Complete a Photo Plaque
I watched a tutorial video to learn how to use Mod Podge for decoupage. They made it look sooooo easy, but looks can be deceiving. They mentioned you could use laser printer color copies but said nothing about needing heavyweight paper. All my photos had been meticulously cut out, and glued down using Mod Podge on the backs. Initially there was a little bubbling, but it smoothed out as it dried. While the Mod Podge does dry clear, the recommended sponge applicator leaves streaks behind and it dries that way! Instead I recommend using an oval mop paintbrush, which produces a smoother finish. Next I applied an even coat over the entire plaque. This should have been the finale, but I knew I was in trouble after the first few cats had been coated. Within seconds, the photos bubbled and curled up into little blobs! It was horrifying! They didn’t mention that in the how to video! Frantically, I scraped the photos off and then used soap and water to clean the surface of the plaque. Back to the drawing board!

The Correct Way to Create a Pig Photo Plaque
This time I suggest a few changes to the process:
First, print your images on heavyweight matte finish photo paper.
Apply one coat of Mod Podge over the entire page of photos, using an oval mop paintbrush.
Allow drying time.
Cut out the individual photos. I chose to cut out the cat’s ears and round the bottom edges so that they would resemble spots on the pig.
Lay out the photos upon the plaque.
Trace the photos to determine the locations of the spots.

Painted Black Spots
Paint each of the black spots a little larger than the photos. I ended up making all the spots solid black to prevent tan paint from peeking out from behind the photos.
Paint the pig’s face, ears, hooves and tail. A painted smile goes a long way to give this little guy some character.

Glued Photos & Sealer Coat
Trim the photos and/or adjust the painted black spots as needed.
One at a time, paste each photo using Elmer’s Glue Stick.
Place a clean sheet of paper on top and firmly rub the surface and edges to ensure a good seal. Repeat this process. Let dry.

Finished Plaque
Apply a coat of Mod Podge over the entire plaque. Congratulations! Mission accomplished!

This is a fun and unique way to display family photos. Although pigs may not be for everyone, there are plenty of interesting wooden plaque shapes to match your family’s unique style and personality. Deciding which photos to use is a fun and adventurous activity. Let your creativity soar and be open to new possibilities as you create this memorable family portrait for everyone to enjoy.

Happy Crafting!