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GLASS PUMPKINS
2002

This pale green glass pumpkin sits on a table beneath the window in our living room each fall. (That mirrored base serves to display a special setting in every season.)

In 2002 trying to find more of theTake-A-Seat chairs by Raine, I visited a Tuesday Morning store in Las Cruces, NM, and while I was there bought two hand-blown glass pumpkins. Some time later at Michael's in El Paso I found little clear glass jack-o-lantern pumpkin jars with lids, on sale, and purchased their last three, knowing they would be perfect for grandchildren projects. My nine-year-old grandson spent a week with us that year while his parents were out of town, and we worked on fall scenes in our glass pumpkins.

This is the jack-o-lantern jar. Since the opening is in the top, it is a bit easier to work with than my pumpkin, which has an opening on the side barely big enough for me to get my hand through.

Our first challenge was in deciding how to make an interior base when the opening was not as large as the pumpkin base. I used foil to press into the bottom, indented all around the edges with my fingernails, cut it out, then drew the pattern onto corrugated cardboard. After we cut out our bases I used an X-Acto knife and a cork-backed small metal ruler to cut through the paper on the bottom and cardboard corrugations, leaving only the paper intact on one side. Then I folded the cardboard in half, slipped it into the pumpkin and opened it back up to test for fit.

Next, I asked him what would happen if we got only one side of the cardboard wet. "Well," he said, "it would probably get all crooked."

"Right, so if we're going to get the top half wet with paint and glue, we need to get the bottom half wet, too."

Then we used a paintbrush to "paint" the bottom with water. Mixing Tacky glue and brown iron oxide paint, we then coated the top half (with the uncut paper), held it over a paper plate and sprinkled sand to cover. As we worked with the bases we periodically pressed them back into shape when they started to buckle a bit, but because of the dampness on the underneath side, they were quite malleable.

Because his jack-o-lantern jar had a fairly good-sized opening in the top, he was able to work on the major landscaping on the table top and insert it into the jar later. Since my pumpkin's opening, however, was on the side and barely permitted my hand to enter, I had to slip my prepared folded base in, open it out and build most of the scene through that opening, turning the objects on their sides to slip them inside, then working them upright. At that point I decided my next tool purchase is going to be a bent tipped loooong pair of tweezers!

The flowers we used for our giant sunflowers were on a fall floral stem from Michael's; I just cut away some of the brown fuzzy centers to make them flatter.

Dried mosses helped hide the corrugated edges of my base.

Cut up raffia was used in the bottom of Joseph's jar. We also used the raffia to make shocks of hay. Then we used brown floral foam to make rocks so that our scene would have a slight variation in elevation, painting them with the glue and paint mixture and sprinkling on more sand.

I had found the twig-and-wire fence among the floral supplies in a gift shop; it had been in my stash of landscaping materials for some time. We cut sections to fit each of our jars and glued them into place, separating the rocks from what would become our pumpkin garden. More of the paint and glue mixture, sand and dried mosses helped stabilize the fence.

Some fallish blossom/leaf shapes from a miniature garland provided good bushes and dried mosses mixed with more sand and a bit of landscaping foam formed the dried remnants of vines in the pumpkin garden.

When we were discussing making pumpkins, I reminded Joseph that odd numbers were best for most scenes. He said, "Well, three is probably not enough," so we each made five variously sized and shaped pumpkins from orange/brown Sculpey.

Their stems were cut from dried flower twigs.

These are Joseph's pumpkins (the smallest is not visible here). I had room for a cart. His jar was too small for a cart or other object.

We made corn from a fall floral stem. Joseph painted it yellow, then we used a watery mixture of beige and green to paint raffia for the husks.

By the way, I can't resist turning full-size leaves into something else. Those leaves were smoothly oval; I gave them the jagged-looking cuts. They will probably turn into some kind of tallish pot plant or bush eventually in some other setting.

It's hard to get a good picture of the finished corn through the glass, unfortunately. Joseph chose not to use any corn, just his pumpkins, since he was short on space in his little jar.

White wedding decoration doves became crows when we painted them black and gave them a yellow beak and yellow eyes with black pupils. (My husband reminded me that crows have black beaks; I just looked at him. The man is so picky!) Here is Joseph painting a crow, and it's the only time he got frustrated, trying to paint eyes and beaks, so I did that for him.

I was the one who got most frustrated, having made several unsuccessful attempts to get that heavy crow to stay on a fence post in my jar. It kept toppling over and I had to fish it out of those narrow confines with tweezers. This was maddening, so I suggested it would be a good idea to glue them onto the tops of the haystacks. Much easier.

Sorry for the glare; it's difficult to get a good picture here because of the curved sides of the container.

One crow was enough for him, but because my jar was bigger, I decided to make a second bird, and cut the wings off and tilted him more to make it appear that he was sitting. By this time I had learned to put glue on the post, glue on the crow, and let them sit for a while to get almost dry, then I added one more new touch of glue. I was finally able to perch the second crow on a fence post. (And now I am wondering why I didn't think to use super glue!) Oh, I hope that bird hasn't flown away after all that work!

We were both very pleased with our glass pumpkin projects. Because his jar has a lid it is safe from dust, and since my jar's opening is rather smallish and on the side rather than the top, they don't catch much dust either (oh well, they are field scenes, after all, so what is a little dust? lol).

We made a label to go on the bottom of his: Joseph's Pumpkin Garden, Made at Nana's House, 9/02.

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