Monday, October 24, 2011

Decorating Faux Pumpkins: A Tutorial

Keep in mind you can always vary what you use according to your taste and your aesthetic.  You can go traditional, country, rock and roll, hip hop, rap, R&B…oh, riiiigggghhhttttt, those are music genres not styles.   You get the idea.  The sky is the limit.  But no matter what style you go, remember to get the most bang be sure to buy your flowers, branches, picks, and berries at 40% off…they will go on sale, I promise. 

Gather your supplies.  I was making a bunch of crapolo so I had a big pile of crapolo.  You will probably have a smaller pile.  

Begin by getting your supplies FOR THIS PROJECT.  You can wing it like I do or you can copy a pumpkin design you like.  I grabbed extra supplies because I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do.
You will need:
  1. Faux pumpkins.  I suppose you could do this with a real pumpkin right before a party.or Halloween night.  I am using 2 large white pumpkins from Micheael's.
  2. The flower embellishments: you can use silk flowers, berries, halloween picks, branches, anything that catches your eye.  I am using orange berries and black Halloween branches
  3. Ribbon or pre-made bow if you chose to.  I am using a roll of black tulle from Michael's Bridal, seam binding that I previously colored with Raven Glimmer Mist, and a wired-edged, sheer, black ribbon with orange glitter dots.  
  4. Floral tape- it comes in white, black, green, and brown.  I used brown because I had it for another proejct.  Try to choose a color close to your project so it won't show. 
  5. Scissors for cutting ribbon and a second pair to cut branches etc.  DO NOT use your good fabric (aka sharp) scissors for cutting anything but fabric/ribbon.  EVER.
  6. Big wire cutters.  Little wire cutters intended for jewelry making probably won't be big enough. 
  7. Hot Glue Gun and Glue.  You could use any tacky glue but you would have to be sure to secure the embellishments until the glue dried. 
  8. Something to protect your floor from dripping hot glue.

To Begin:
  • You have to start by prepping the flowers/branches/picks/berries by breaking down the stems.  The photo above shows my berries as I got them.   I cut off the leaves and tossed them away.  If the leaves are pretty and well made,  I either use them or  keep them for a future project.  The leaves that came on my berries were crappy pathetic little leaves so they went buh-bye. 
  • Start breaking down the stems to the smallest pieces you want to work with.  

  • This is what I got from my little orange berries.  If you wondered where the berries were made…. check out the newspaper.  
  • The goal is to cut the stems short and get rid of the big inner wire that gives the branch it's stability.  It is HUGE and hard to deal with.  You also want to get rid of all the paper and floral tape that gives it bulk.  The floral tape itself is hard to cut through and I find it is easiest to start snipping in little bites, taking bigger bites with each pass.  Eventually I will hit the big wire that is hard to break; I usually try to break it and then start wiggling it back and forth over the wire cutters until it breaks.  If hubby is around I might ask nicely. 

  • Pick up a few stems and hold them together.  You will need to wrap them with floral tape.  I know, you've never used floral tape.  Relax, it's easy.  Floral tape is a paper tape with a wax coating which allows it to stick to itself.  When it is wrapped over itself several times it becomes very strong- as you will see when you try to remove it from the stems.
  • To use floral tape, put it in your dominant hand and the branches in the other hand.  Pull out a few inches of tape and hold the end, with the hand that is holding the stems, where you want to start wrapping.  Holding the tape roll in your dominant hand, gently pull it to stretch it a little as you twist the branches.  It will stick to itself as you stretch it and wrap it around itself.  As it is exposed to air the sticky quality dissipates.  Yes, it will get all over your hands making them sticky...gummy; it's the cost of doing business.
  • Continue to stretch and wrap, twisting the stems until you reach the end. 

  • As you can see in the picture above, I din't go all the way to the very end.  It isn't necessary unless the end of the stem will show.  In this case, we are only taping the branches to keep them together when they are pushed into the pumpkin.  If you are making a design where the ends show, like in a boutonniere, you would need to go all the way to the and back up a little to finish if off neatly.  
  • When you have taped enough, simply rip the tape with your hands and smooth it down.  Done!

  • I made 3 little sets of the berries for my design. 

  • The faux pumpkins are made of foam making them very easy to puncture.  You could use something like an awl, but I just used one blade of my scissors….NOT my fabric scissors.  The idea is just to get a pilot whole so a slit from the scissor blade is fine.

  • Put a little bit of hot glue on the end of the stem and push it into the slit you cut.  In both designs I simply worked my way around the pumpkin- in the orange design i used 3 little bundles of berries and for the black design I ended up using 5 stems.  
  • Notice I didn't bundle the black stems.  Inserting them one at a time actually gave me more control over the design.  Bundling them would have been difficult because of the way they are made; they are plastic with a lot of texture and variation within each stem.  There wasn't much wire in the part of the branch I used which would have made  it difficult to shape if I had bundled them.  The opposite is true of the orange berries; they did not have much texture and were wired but were flimsily alone.  Bundling them gave me a much fuller look than inserting them individually would have and the wire allowed me to shape them.
  • I tied a bow with the seam binding and used a 20 gauge wire to hold it together.  I used the floral tape on the wires and inserted them the same way I did the branches. 
  • This website shows how to make several different types of bows.  There are lots of YouTube videos with instructions on bow making as well but I kept finding unintentionally cheesy ones that I was too grossed out to recommend. 
  • You can make a big floral bow like I did or you can make several 2 loop bows and put them together like I did the stems of the orange berries.  Keep in mind that wired ribbon is more forgiving; fluff the loops out until you are happy with the way it looks.  
  • The black tulle was cut into 10 inch lengths or so and tied in the middle with the 20 gauge wire- the tighter the wire the more fluffy the tulle will be and you want fluffy for this look.  Fluff and play around until you like the arrangement.   
  • A word about seam binding.  Seam binding is hot right now for several reasons: It looks great, comes in a ton of colors, is simple and has a great, unique drape.  You can buy "hand-dyed" or "crinkled" seam binding on Etsy for $3-6/15 yards.  Doesn't sound too bad, right?  It's a rip off.  My money saving hints:  Buy an entire roll of Hug Snug in white from Zipperstop where you can get 100 yards for $9.50.  Seriously.  Now you can "hand-dye" or "crinkle" it with any spray or liquid dye.  I used Glimmer Mist but Perfect Pearls, Distress Stains,  Adirondack Colorwash Ink, Rit dye, or  Fireworks.  You can use anything of color, like an ink pad, which will give you beautiful color but not the crinkled look; you need to wet the ribbon for that.   It is messy and you might want to wear gloves.  If you spray the ribbon you have to squeeze, squish, flip, spray, squeeze….it's very messy.    I use a small box as my misting space. 
  • The orange pumpkin bow was made the same ways as the seam binding but because of the wire is much bigger.   I put the bow as central as I could and then fluffed it among the berries. 


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