DIY Cement Jack O' Lantern
Oh Halloween, what a fun time of year. And on a year I don’t have a Halloween costume party to go to, I’ve got the time and energy to put into decorating. Being a maker of all things cement, I thought I would try to create a cement Jack O’ Lantern.
Did you know the Jack O’ Lantern comes from a mythical ghostly Irish figure?Some guy nicknamed ‘Stingy Jack’ tricked the Devil a few times. And when Jack passed, God didn’t want him in Heaven.
So the Devil got revenge by not letting him into Hell and made him roam the earth in the dark with a single burning coal to light his way. Who knew? I’m sure there’s a couple of lesson’s in there somewhere. ;o]
I really wasn’t sure how this would turn out and thought there might be a good chance this would go on the ‘Project Failed’ list, but it didn’t! It only took two tries to get it right. However, the first try also turned out really cool, so I went a different direction with it, and I’ll post that project separately.
With this Jack O’ Lantern tutorial there’s a lot of separate cement mixing steps to this, but it goes quickly. I hope you enjoy it.
If you love cement and concrete projects then you may be interested in my free downloadable Pocket Guide To Concrete & Cement Mixes For Crafts.
First, remove the plastic handle from the pumpkin, just give it a tug.
Next, mark out the hole for the light on the bottom of the pumpkin by tracing around it with the marker.
Cut a hole in the bottom to fit the candle. Start by making the cut just outside the line to allow the candle to fit easily. Do this outside the line using a little pressure and a bit of a sawing motion.
Please be careful and cut away from your body and your fingers! Once you have the hole cut, carefully punch it out through the bottom.
Make sure the LED candle fits.
Do the same for the eyes, nose and mouth of the pumpkin. Go slowly here so you don’t tear through the parts that need to stay intact. The plastic in the face is thinner and will cut easily.
Use the hot glue gun to fill in the side holes where the handle was. Just put a small dab on both holes.
Next, cut a piece of the plastic bag in a circle. Make it about 2” bigger than the top hole. Spray it generously with vegetable oil spray so it doesn’t stick to the plastic when you de-mould.
You are going to glue it around the hole, allowing it to be a little oversized so when you pour in the cement it will puff out a little to round out the head. This doesn’t have to be perfect, you will be refining this later.
Are you interested in other types of concrete crafts? Feel free to check out all my Concrete & Cement Crafts tutorials.
Mix up the cement. Cement is easier to work with than concrete. You will want it fairly runny, like a milkshake (not a thick one).
For this project, I intentionally didn’t mix the cement mixture well because I didn’t want the pumpkin to have a smooth appearance, the way I do when I make planters since I wanted the pumpkin to be creepy looking.
Add the cement to the disposable bowl, then add water and mix, continue doing this per scoop of cement. I used about 4 not-full scoops of cement for the mix.
Step 6 :
Turn the pumpkin upside down so the plastic is downward. Pour in the mix and keep turning the pumpkin to coat it inside.
Move quickly as this will start to cure fast. In some spots the cement won’t want to stick, so just use your hands to scoop some onto those spots and to even it out inside.
Let the cement fill and puff out the plastic bag. If you miss some parts of the pumpkin, it’s okay this will be refined in the next step.
Let the pumpkin rest on the wide mouth container with the bag inside to let it cure properly.
Using paper towels, wipe off any cement that has dripped over the edges of the openings.This will make it much easier to de-mould (I made the mistake of not doing this as you can see in the photos). Let it cure for an hour.
You want the pumpkin to be fully coated and the area around the face to be thick so it doesn’t break when de-moulding. So mix up a thinner batch of cement, smoothly this time and pour into the pumpkin and roll around.
You may need to use your gloved hands to hand apply the cement to coat the areas around the face. Let it cure.
Step 8 :
***UPDATE*** Since I originally posted this tutorial, I have discovered the magic of a heat gun.
I used a heat tool to start removing the plastic because I didn’t have a heat gun.
If you have a heat gun, I recommend trying that first. It will be a little easier than slicing it with the heat tool.
Just run the gun over the pumpkin back and forth to release the plastic from the cement.
Once you have a long slit to work with, put the blade under the plastic skin.
Pull upward and slice sideways, continue to cut across the pumpkin.
Keep pulling up with the blade so you don’t scratch the cement. You may need to repeat this near the face as well.
Step 9 :
Now, mix up a little bit of cement into a thin slurry and coat the top of the pumpkin where the stalk will go. Just pour it on top so it fills in and rounds off.
After a few minutes, take a toothpick and duplicate the lines from the pumpkin so that they look like they continue into the top. Let it cure.
Step 10 :
Once the top of the head has hardened, take the remaining part of the plastic bag and cut a rectangular piece and spray it with the vegetable oil spray.
Mix up some more cement, this time thicker, let it cure about 5 minutes so it is more mouldable. Plop it onto the bag and wrap it.
Twist the bag slightly and pull to make the pumpkin stem. Fold the bag over to hold the cement in on the bottom and tie a knot in the top.
After a few minutes, when the cement is starting to stiffen a bit, put the folded end on top of the pumpkin head and smush it so the end flattens and fits the head.
You can play with this in the first 15 minutes or so as it cures, so you can get the right shape and fit. Let it cure about an hour.
Once the stem has cured, glue it with construction adhesive. It should fit the pumpkin head nicely and hold easily while the glue cures. After 24 hours, it will be permanently adhered.
Add the three AAA batteries to the candle light, turn it on and insert it into the pumpkin.
I love the way this turned out! What do you think?
Resources for this project:See all materials
Melin on Jul 28, 2020
Absolutely LOVE this project! Yes, lots of steps, but well worth the effort because the result is DARLING ... and so clever; your directions are great. This technique is so different and fun for taking the Fall/Halloween decorations up a notch ~ so expensive looking!
Thank you very much for sharing and inspiring!