DIY New Jersey Pumpkin

I’m pretty sure I’ve made it clear that I am quite a big fan of fall: the season that calls for cute booties, apple-flavored everything, and plenty of opportunities to get crafty and creative.  While I’ve been going a little apple crazy (baking apple muffins, apple crisp, and making a mean apple cider margarita – we’ll get to that later this week), one of my favorite things about fall is decorating pumpkins.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been going with a white pumpkin theme.  I’ve done the ombre pumpkin thing a few times, and last year I put pouncers to the test by making a polka dotted pumpkin.  As much as I continue to be enticed by the prettiest white pumpkins out there, I decided this year it was time to do something different.  While daydreaming on the couch and recovering from my appendix surgery, I decided that I was going to make a New Jersey themed pumpkin.


This project is super fun and incredibly simple.  To start with, I surveyed my paint collection and settled on metallic red for the base color.  I used a basic acrylic paint for the red coat.  After evaluating several color options, I decided that first, red is pretty seasonal without screaming Halloween, and second, it’s the color of one of my all-time favorite New Jersey things: Rutgers!  The metallic sheen really added to the fun and brightness of this pumpkin decorating process.  I painted indoors this year on the dining room table (while watching my tenth episode of Gilmore Girls), and I simply put down one piece of cardboard, painting from stem to base in even, vertical strokes.  By the time I got to the base of the pumpkin, I just held it upside down by the stem and waited for the paint to dry in between coats.  I love picking a pumpkin that has a nice strong stem for handling – it makes decorating so much easier!

It took two coats, but by the second coat, it was looking a lot less pink and a lot more scarlet.  I decided to add one more touch of whimsy and painted the stem gold.  This paint is just a basic craft paint from Martha Stewart’s acryllic metallic collection in gold.  I did about three coats to make sure the stem was looking nice and shiny.

For the piece de resistance of this pumpkin, I decided to freehand the outline of the state of New Jersey using a pen.  I waited until all of the coats were dry and did a very light sketch using a picture of the Garden State on my phone as inspiration.  After the outline was done, I grabbed a very small paintbrush and used Martha Stewart craft paint in white to fill in the entire outline.  I painted the state outline a little bigger than what I actually traced in an attempt to cover up the pen lines.  I did about three coats of the white, which really contrasted nicely with the red, but I probably wouldn’t use pen moving forward to make the state outline – you can still see traces of it through the white paint, even though I did quite a few coats.

Lastly, I added a little heart on the state of New Jersey where Madison is located, to represent my heart and my home.  I love the way it came out – a red pumpkin looks great on a mostly neutral and white front porch!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Halloween around here. I’d love to hear any pumpkin carving or painting projects you’ve been up to lately!

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