Please note this is a tutorial for the pumpkins ONLY, not the creatures that perch inside. Those are my own design so please don't copy them - fair's fair, after all.
There are two methods available, but I've found the one with the polystyrene balls works best. The polystyrene balls only shrink, rather than melt, when baked at 110 C. To my knowledge, no toxic fumes are given off during the baking process, but if you have any concerns, use the second method with the tin foil and rice.
Tools and materials
|Materials and tools|
Green clay (for pumpkin stalk)
Pasta machine (or two knitting needles and a roller)
Small round cutter
Knitting needle (or similar)
Ball shaper tool
Polystyrene (Styrofoam) balls (available from any craft supply shop)
Step 1 - Forming the pumpkin shape
Condition about 25g of orange Fimo Professional clay. (Although Sculpey III Sweet Potato is the best colour for pumpkins, I've found that Fimo is stronger for carving the face.) Roll out a flat sheet about 3mm thick. I have used the thickest setting on a pasta machine for this, but you can achieve the same result by using two knitting needles and a roller.
|Rolling out the clay using knitting needles as thickness guides|
To create the pumpkin shape, I have found that polystyrene balls are best. These are available in a range of sizes, and I use either 25mm or 30mm diameter ones. For larger sizes, you'll need more clay to cover the ball.
Place the ball in the centre of the flat sheet, and fold the sheet around it, pinching up four corners so that the clay encases the ball as neatly as possible.
|Wrapping the clay around the polystyrene ball|
Try to make sure there is no air trapped during this process. Once all four corners are sealed as closely as possible round the ball, snip off the excess clay using a pair of scissors.
|Snipping off the excess clay|
After removing all excess clay and making sure there are no air pockets, roll the ball vigorously between the palms of your hand to smooth it off. Then press the top of the ball lightly with the palm of your hand to flatten the bottom and give it a flat surface to stand on.
|The finished clay-covered polystyrene ball|
Remove the pumpkin lid using either a small round cutter or a scalpel. This allows the ball to be exposed to the heat so that it shrinks enough during baking to allow you to remove it without too much difficulty.
|Removing the pumpkin lid|
|Adding the pumpkin lines|
Follow a simple template to create the eyes, nose and mouth. Using a scalpel, carefully cut the features through the full thickness of the clay so that they are easy to remove after baking. The neater you are at this stage, the better the finish will be after baking.
|Carving the face|
There are a few ways to create the lid. If it doesn't need to be an exact fit (like the one shown in the main picture at the top), cut out a circle of clay using the same cutter used to remove the lid from the pumpkin. Place this over a polystyrene ball of the same size used for the pumpkin to create the curve, and then add the lines in the same way as you did for the pumpkin.
|Creating the lid|
If you need the lid to fit exactly, wait until the pumpkin has baked and then place a sheet of clay over the opening to get an imprint. Cut out the exact shape with a scalpel, and shape it using a polystyrene ball as before.
Step 4 - Finishing the pumpkin
Once the pumpkin has fully cooled, you will see the polystyrene ball has shrunk so that it looks like a small lumpy snowball. The rate of shrinkage can vary.
|The balls can shrink at different rates|
|Removing the ball using tweezers|
Once the ball has been removed, use a scalpel to carefully pick out the pumpkin face. The idea is to follow the pre-cut lines as much as possible, easing the scalpel in gently to loosen the parts to be removed. It's a good idea not to rush this stage, and also try not to apply too much pressure as you go, as this can sometimes cause cracks which can't be repaired (this is when I found out that Fimo is much stronger than Sculpey III!) Neaten the inner edges with the scalpel if necessary.
Use a square of tin foil about 5" square, and fill it with approximately 5g of uncooked rice (the amount of rice will vary depending on the size of the pumpkin required). Twist the foil and rice into a ball tighten the foil as much as possible, leaving a 'tuft' of foil at the top. Wind masking tape around the outside of the ball.
|Rice and tin foil method|
Once the clay has cooled, cut out the face markings as before, and then ease open the foil at the top and shake out the rice. The foil can then be picked out using tweezers.
I discovered this particular technique from a YouTube tutorial, which you can watch here. Another technique is to use a ball of tin foil for the core, but it does take some work to pick it out fully after baking.
Other pumpkin tutorials:
I hope you've found this tutorial helpful - you can see all the Halloween creatures I've made, including creatures in different pumpkin colours, on my Flickr page here.
And in other VERY exciting news, I'm working with the talented Jennifer of JS Miniatures to come up with a way of putting a tiny light in these pumpkins - watch this space :)