I know that this post may seem out of place as I have already been…
Glowing light is perfect for Halloween! After much daydreaming, I finally figured it out; how to make Draped Concrete Pumpkin Lanterns! You won’t see this anywhere else…
Getting Yor fabric:
As you may know I will just about dip any fabric into Portland Cement to make draped concrete creations! I loved the effects of the ‘creepy cloth’ when I used it on the Witch. I snagged some last year at clearance sales since I knew something would come up.. You can use other fabric like burlap or lace as well. I like to use something that is a natural fibre so it absorbs the concrete slurry well. The ‘lacy holes’ effect of the fabric will give the light a chance to escape and make interesting patterns.
Making the Form:
When I was designing this method I thought a balloon would work but that was too hard to tie into the pumpkin sections – I know, I gave it quite the try! The plastic bag (recycle from whatever you buy) is tied on one end and then stuffed with some fibre-fill (reuse some old pillows) and then tied on the other end. Concrete does not stick to plastic but try to have it as flat & smooth as possible so it does not get stuck in the wrinkles.
Pumpkins have sections so using some twine allows you to tie it into as many sections as you like. I got a few forms ready before I got messy with the concrete fingers.
Technically I am only using Portland Cement here, not a complete concrete mix. In my draping methods I am substituting the aggregate for the fabric. Mix the portland cement with water to make a ‘milkshake’ consistency. It will be quite smooth and muddy-like. If the cement gets lumpy you can use a sieve to strain it first like sifting flour.
Cut a piece of the fabric to cover the size of pumpkin shape with a bit extra. Since the ‘creepy cloth’ is thin and ‘holey’ I like to double it. There’s not rules and is quite forgiving when applying. Massage the mix into the fabric & Squeeze out the extra portland muck and open up the fabric. It should be well covered without being too drippy or extra lumps.
Place over the form and wrap to the bottom. The bottom needs an opening to pull the form later on. It can be quite large or small as long as the filling can be pulled out. Smooth the fibres as you like and adjust the spacing. Portland cement does not cure that quickly so you have some time.
Once the fabric has been smoothed on, you can cut any extra off. Using some cotton twine tie the sections again to pull them in nicely. If you like, you could skip the tying of the forms and just tie in this step.
If there are any big gobs of the cement you can brush them off with a tooth brush or brush. Bring out the texture of the fabric and also add some cement if there’s missing parts.
Make a Pumpkin stem:
The stem of the Draped Concrete pumpkin Lantern will be made of fabric as well. Here I used some old flannel and rolled it up after folding the bottom a up a bit to make it a wider end.
Twist and scrunch the stem to make it look like the real ones. It will attach to the top of the pumpkin with the slurry as it cures.
To make a curly tendril of the vine wrap some string around some wire and then curl that around a dowel or pencil. So easy. If you are even more ambitious you could also cut flat pieces of fabric and make leaves!
Dip the tendril into the slurry to cover and then
Clean up any extra clumps of the cement mix. I find it’s not as messy as it looks. I keep a bucket of water close by to just dip my hands as there is no washing them in the sink!
Make a variety of sizes and sections while your are at…
A loose burlap weave will also work nicely, just be sure to not have too much mix clogging the open spaces. These do not necessarily need light if you so prefer.
I love the textures that the fabrics bring as well as the twisty stems. They take hardly any mix and are quite light in weight. I sit them on some empty sour cream containers (or like) until cured.
Since I was working inside these cured quite quickly, pretty well overnight. Don’t be afraid to mist them a bit during cure as it will help strengthen the ‘concrete’. If there are sections that are too soft then you can dampen it and paint on some more slurry.
Making them Hollow:
Here’s the unique part of these! I hated seeing all those typical solid concrete pumpkins knowing how heavy they would be! From the hole on the bottom cut open the plastic bag and pull out the stuffing.
Depending on the size of hole; take out as much or little at a time as you can. It’s really quite easy and since it’s clean the stuffing can be reused.
The bag also pulls out quite easily since concrete does not stick to plastic. I was quite pleased that it worked as I imagined.
If the holes have some extra concrete you can brush it to open up more spaces.
Light them up!
I would suggest not to use real candles. I have used a string of lights similar to the larger type that are on christmas trees as they are quite bright. You could also use the small battery LED lights.
Such a warm glow and unique texture of lights. Perfect to sit on the mantel or front porch. Best thing; they do not rot and will last indefinitely!
Happy Halloween! These are a ‘MadeByBarb’ original and could actually be other vegetables as well… I love draped concrete as there’s no limit to what you can dream up! Check out all my draped creatures.