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Papier-Mâché Gourds and Pumpkins

Use papier-mâché to make decorative gourds and pumpkins for a Thanksgiving centerpiece. These gourds look nice in a horn of plenty basket with raffia or Spanish moss layered on the bottom. This is a great gift for a harried hostess.

Present Pointers

A basket of real gourds makes a lovely fall centerpiece to give to a friend or neighbor. Pick out nicely shaped and colored gourds from a farmer's market or grocery store and wash and varnish them. If desired, you could paint faces on them with acrylic paints. Place them in a wicker basket filled with Spanish moss or raffia. Some colored silk leaves look nice placed in between the gourds.

Time frame: Two to three hours plus overnight to dry

Level: Moderately difficult

What you need:

  • Newspaper
  • One bag of five-inch balloons
  • Shallow bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • 34cup flour
  • 12cup water
  • Popcorn kernels (optional)
  • Orange, yellow, green, brown, and black craft paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Clear acrylic finish spray
  • Green and brown felt
  • Scissors
  • Glue gun
  • Basket
  • Raffia or Spanish moss
  1. Cover your work area with newspaper or a plastic tablecloth. Blow up the balloons and tie knots in the ends of them. You'll need at least six balloons.
  2. In a shallow bowl, make a paste out of 34cup of flour and a little less than 12cup of water. The paste should be thick enough to thoroughly coat a piece of paper without dripping off. If the paste is too runny, add more flour. If it's too dry, add a bit of water.
  3. Tear or cut the newspapers into one-inch-wide strips. Dip the strips into the paste mixture and run your fingers down the strip to remove excess paste. Be sure the paper has an even coating of paste. Paste the strip of paper onto the balloon in a vertical direction, going from the knotted end to the top and back down again. Repeat this procedure several times until the balloon is evenly covered with strips. Be sure to leave a small “hole” where the knot of the balloon protrudes so it can be pulled out when dry. If you like a bumpy texture to your gourd, add a few kernels of popcorn between the layers of newspaper.
  4. Add strips around the balloon horizontally until the balloon is covered with a 14 inch layer of paper. Press the strips to the balloon to keep the shape intact. Rub some extra paste around the strips to smooth them out. Add more popcorn kernels to form bumps on the gourds, if desired.
  5. Make stems for the top of the gourds by twisting several layers of paper together like a snake and dipping them into the paste. Allow the stems to dry.
  6. Let the gourds dry overnight. Carefully pop the balloons and pull them out. Glue a piece of the twisted stem into the hole of each gourd.
  7. Paint the gourds bright green, orange, yellow, white, and black. Paint the stems brown Allow them to dry overnight.
  8. Spray with a coating of clear acrylic finish spray and allow the gourds to dry. Make leaves out of green and brown felt and glue them to the top of the gourds.
  9. Place the gourds in a basket filled with raffia or Spanish moss.

More Halloween Crafts for Kids.

More on: Thanksgiving


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Great Gifts © 2001 by Marilee LeBon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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