There is finally a chill in the air around here and even though fall is still technically a few days away, I am ready to jump on the seasonal bandwagon and decorate for autumn. This puzzle piece pumpkin has always been one of my favorites. It is a super easy and very inexpensive craft that can be used as part of a seasonal home décor vignette or made for or by kids as a holiday photo frame.
I used to make it in my classroom when I was teaching with kids from age two to grade four. This year, since I am not teaching and do not have small children of my own, I decided to make it as a frame for a fall saying and employ it in a more sophisticated way. No matter which way you choose to display it, the directions are the same.
To show you both outcomes, I put a picture of my pretty kitty in the frame, as my teens did not approve of any of the photos I wanted to use of them.
Cats do not have the same veto power.
I started by drawing a pumpkin shape on the cardboard from an empty cereal box. Then I cut the shape out, folded it in half and cut the middle portion out to fashion a frame.
The shape does not have to be perfect. If you need a guide, a small paper plate can give you a good start.
I had a some old pieces from my art cabinet, but not enough, so I grabbed a puzzle from the dollar store. The picture on the puzzle does not matter. Since I had a choice, I picked one that had some green in it, as I knew I would use those pieces for the stem of the pumpkin. It would save me some painting and add a little interest.
I painted both the pieces and the frame, to provide a uniform background in case it peeked out at all. I painted the back of the puzzle pieces, not the shiny front, as it does not hold the paint as well, also it would require more than one coat to cover the printing. I used some old craft paint and a foam brush.
However, when working with kids, either your own or in a classroom, I would suggest spray painting or pre-painting the pieces. It saves a lot of time and a lot of mess.
Or you could embrace the mess and use orange finger paint. It makes a really sweet kids' craft, but painting the tiny pieces is a messy job and gets all over little fingers.
FYI, it gets all over big fingers too!
When the pieces were completely dry, I glued them around the frame, layering several pieces on top of each other, any glue is fine, just make sure it dries clear. Like I stated earlier, I had green pieces in my box, so I used them as a stem. I also added some leftover greenery as leaves. I like mixing textures and finishes, I think it adds more interest to the project.
When I was happy with my creation, I coated the entire thing in decoupage gel to set it and give it a little shine. I used the drying time to print out a seasonal phrase on cardstock. I did it on my computer, no fancy tools or programs, I picked a pretty font in Word and was done in minutes! I used scotch tape to adhere it to the back of the pumpkin.
When dry and complete, I leaned my puzzle pumpkin against my pitcher, but the options here are many.
I could've added another piece of cardboard to the back as a stand if I wanted. If I was going to use it for a child's photo, I would add the picture and then add a piece of paper over the back to secure it, including the child's name, date and maybe even handprint.
A small piece of paper on the bottom with the words "MY LITTLE PUMPKIN" could be added to enhance the frame and in the past I have tied a green ribbon at the top to make it a hanging decoration.
If you make this on a larger scale, it would be a really cute ornament for your front door or wall, wreath style. Smaller pumpkins could be made to just adorn a burlap or twig wreath or you could make acorn, gourd or black crow puzzles. The possibilities here are truly endless, limited only by your imagination!
For Thanksgiving, I transformed my pumpkins into place cards, simply by adding a name.
I can honestly say that making this project was so much fun and brought out the kid in me ~ hands in paint, bright colors and puzzle pieces! If you try this project I would love to hear from you and know what you thought about it and how you made it your own!
Until then, enjoy the season and like the sign says, Happy Fall Y'all!
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