Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pumpkin Topiary Turtorial

Five or six years ago, I was inspired by an article I read in Southern Living.  The article was about making a topiary using copper tubing and pumpkins.  I just loved it and couldn't get it out of my head.  I just knew I had to try it but I did not want to use real pumpkins because of the mess and they would not last very long. 

Then one day I stumbled upon some fake pumpkins at Michael's and decided to use them instead.  I bought three pumpkins in different sizes and the plastic carving tools that were being sold beside the pumpkins.  I drew out the designs on the pumpkins and started carving away.  Within five minutes the plastic carving tools broke and I did not know what to do.  I decide to try our serrated kitchen knife, but I had to use a lot of muscle power and the knife was too big to carve the tiny details.  My last option was a wood burning tool I had used in another project, and luckily it did the job. 

It took me two days to complete two topiaries.  I tried to hot glue the pumpkins together but it did not hold them .  I punched holes where the pumpkins met (one on each side) and wired them together.  They have lasted me for 5 years and survived moves to three different states.  Sadly, last year my little rooster knocked it over and I lost a pumpkin.

But my loss is your gain!  I have made new topiaries for my porch, and I have documented my project.  For this projects you will need three pumpkins and the heated knife shown in the picture.  I bought the pumpkins from Michael's because they were cheaper than Hobby Lobby.  They only had two sizes to choose from so I decided to use two large pumpkins and one small pumpkin at the top. 

Next, I drew my patterns on my pumpkins.  Here is were you can get creative.  I free handed the stars and curly Q's but used a template for the circles so they would be the same size.  The possibilities are endless for what you could create with these pumpkins.  However, simpler designs are easier to cut out.

The next step is to cut out your design.  Just follow the directions given for the heated knife, and please be careful.  It is HOT and SHARP!  I waited until my little one was asleep before I started cutting out the designs.  My youngest is two and I think you understand why I waited until he was asleep.

My advice in cutting out the shapes is to take your time.  It is not hard to do but I wanted nice clean cuts so I took my time.

After all my shapes were out it was time to stack the pumpkins.  I first decided which sides I wanted to face the front and which pumpkin would be on the bottom.  After all of that is decided, I cut out the stem of the bottom pumpkin. (I did not cut a hole in the bottom because I inserted the lights though one of the polka dots.  You may cut a hole in the bottom pumpkin to insert the lights, but be aware that the cord may make the topiary wobbly.)  Do not make the hole too big!  I made the hole about 3-4 inches in diameter.  I then cut the same size hole in the bottom and top of the middle pumpkin.  Finally, I cut a hole in the bottom of the top pumpkin, but left the stem. 

You now have to build you topiary.  Early in the post I said I attached my topiaries with wire.  This time I tried this glue pictured below.  I had it from another project and it said it was for Styrofoam.  It goes on white, but it dries clear.  The bottle says it needs 8 hours to cure.  I will have to say that so far so good.  If it does not hold I will go back to using wire.

Once the topiaries were dry, I set them in this plant stand I bought from Walmart, I think.  It was white but I spray painted it black and wrapped it with grapevine garland.  In the past, I have used two large iron urns for the topiaries.  However, I now use the urns for something else and I needed to add height to the topiaries.  I already had these in the garage so I improvised.

The final step is to add lights.  I used old Christmas light, but you can use battery operated candles.  You could also use the orange lights that you find at Michael's.  The lights I have now are on a green cord, but I will change them to white lights on a white cord as soon as I find them!

And that is it!  The big spiders I added serve two purposes.  First, I thought they were cute and added a little something special to the pumpkins.  Second, they hide little gaps that you can see because the pumpkins will not be totally flush.  You could use leaves, boas, or other garlands for the same effect.

Sorry for the long post!  It is a fun project and you can use it again year after year.  I would LOVE to use the white pumpkins to make a pumpkin "snowman" and top it off with a witch's hat!  If you have made a pumpkin topiary, I would love to see it!  Email a picture and I will post it on my blog.

Also, I am having a giveaway this week and the winner will be announced Friday, October 1st, 2010. I will be giving away this door hanger from Dondee Hicks of Artist Tree.

If you would like a chance to win this Candy Filled Jack-O-Lantern, please click HERE and follow the instructions on how to enter.

Thanks for dropping by!
Our Southern Nest


Emily said...

Can't wait to try this! I plan on trying to make one this weekend. I'll send you a pic if it's a success. :) Thanks for sharing!

lauren @ gathering moss said...

i love this! already decorated my front porch for fall, but may have to reconsider and make a trip to michael's!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

What a great idea! I love these pumpkins...so much better than real ones for this project! And the spiders are the perfect touch! How clever you are! ♥

amy said...

I love this idea!! My mom has been trying to come up with something to put in her urns on her front porch and I think this is perfect! I smell a weekend project for sure!

Susan @ Living with Punks said...

So cute! I love them. I hate cutting real pumpkins and then they rot after a few days. Thanks for the inspiration :)

Michelle said...

Love it, Im going to try it!!

Lisa@Pickles and Cheese said...

Thanks so much for such a great how to. This is the cutest thing! And the spiders just make it even better. VERY CLEVER!!

linda @ CraftaholicsAnonymous said...

Great topiary! Love that you used fake pumpkins so that it lasts.
best wishes,

Cozy Home Scenes said...

I made a pair of similiar ones about 10 years ago after seeing them in Home Companion magazine and like you, I planned to reuse them every year. Goodness knows, those pumpkins are not cheap, so it's nice to have something nice.

Sadly, the very first year I made mine, some teenage hoodlums stole it off my poor. I was so mad considering how much time and money I spent on it.

BTW, I believe I had mine held together with liquid nails for those of you who are finding that your glue isn't sticking.

Jan said...

I LOVE it!! I made a version of this and posted about on my blog: www.thesimpler-life.blogspot.com. I also linked to yours! :)


The Soladay Family said...

Super cute! Love the addition of the spiders. =)

Amy Watson said...

I love that you used fake pumpkins. I tried this years ago with real ones and I ended up having to throw all of my hard work away!

StepherB said...

Stopping over from TT&J! Love how you did this! Looks amazing!

Brooke @ The Crafting Chicks said...

This is a fabulous topiary!!! You are so smart do to plastic so it lasts a long time. I love everything about it! :)

Devonay@LumpkinAndMe said...

I absolutely LOVE the topiaries! And that is the cutest little rooster ever!

Shelley said...

Stopping by from TT&J... Thanks so much for sharing your tutorial!! If you're still looking for white corded lights, I just saw them in the bridal/wedding section at Hobby Lobby :)

Holly Baker said...

I just found this post through Pinterest. I LOVE your porch and this tutorial! Thank you for sharing!!