Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Last week, I saw this idea for blackboard pumpkins over at Ohdeedoh. (They're actually originally from Indie Fixx, to give credit where credit is due.) Anyhow, I thought these would be great for my almost-5-year-old's 5th birthday party, which is coming up this weekend. I had originally thought the kids could paint pumpkins, but I kept worrying that the paint would just get too messy. But -- aha! -- pumpkins painted with chalkboard paint can be decorated -- safely! mess-free! -- with chalk, and the kids can take them home as a favor and decorate them again and again. Neat!
So I bought a bunch of those adorable mini-pumpkins and started painting. But it turns out, a) it's really tough to paint small, glossy gourds, and b) it's really tough for little hands to draw on them with chalk without getting frustrated. Apparently there is chalkboard spray paint, which would probably be much easier. And regular pumpkins (not those teeny ones) would probably work fabulously -- and I'm definitely planning on doing some this year for sure. But I wasn't really up for buying 15 regular-sized pumpkins and then painting them all... whew!
Which led me to come up with Plan B: cardboard cut-out pumpkins painted with chalkboard paint. They turn into little chalkboards that work great, the kids can wipe off and decorate again and again. And the best part is, I already had a big cardboard box ready to go into the recycling, so the only real cost was the blackboard paint (which I had already purchased, on sale!). I love recycling!
Here's how to make these little cuties...
Step 1: Gather supplies. You'll need sturdy cardboard... I took a large shipping box and flattened it. You'll also need a cutting tool, like a boxcutter or X-acto knife. And... chalkboard paint! I went to my local paint store and discovered they now have tintable chalkboard paint, so you can get it in any color you like. I suppose that technically means you could do orange, but then I'm not sure how well the chalk would show up...? I chose black.
Step 2: Cut out pumpkin shapes from the cardboard. I found this easiest to do on the floor of my garage (so I didn't need to worry about damage from the box-cutter), kneeling on the cardboard to keep it from moving. I suppose you could also try to cut out the shapes with strong scissors, but I think my hands would fall off. About halfway through, I switched from the box-cutter (which was kind of dull and didn't lock so I was holding the blade down with my finger... ow) to an X-acto knife, which I found muuuuch easier. Word of caution, though: my X-acto blade was completely destroyed.
Step 3: Lay down newspaper, and paint your shapes! The paint dries on cardboard in about an hour, but each side really needs two coats for maximum coverage and wipability, so this whole process can take several hours.
Step 4: Decorate your pumpkin! Then wipe off the chalk and do it again! Just remember that these are made of cardboard, so I wouldn't recommend using a really damp cloth! I've gotten best results from a paper towel or piece of cloth that is just *barely* damp.
I can think of dozens of uses for these little cuties. You could make holes in the stems of the pumpkins, and string them on twine for a garland of jack-o-lanterns. You could hand them out at the kid's school Halloween party. In our case, they're going to be a combination craft activity and take-home favor for my daughter's 5th birthday. Fun!