In my last post, I promised more information on some very cute vampire pumpkins Peanut and I crafted. You may have seen these pumpkins on Pinterest:
- A small gourd. Yes, it looks like a pumpkin, but it’s not really a pumpkin. I got mine for 70 cents a piece at WestLake. I got traditional orange ones, but I think the vumpkins would look better in a lighter-toned gourd like they are in the original Pin. Next time, I think I’ll try white.
- Two red-headed stick pins. You can get these in the sewing section of any craft store, or your mom might have some hidden in her sewing kit.
- 1 set of plastic vampire fangs. I got glow-in-the-dark ones for $1 from Dillons.
- Carving tools. In my case, I used a small pumpkin saw that came in a pumpkin-carving kit. This made it safe for Peanut to help out: the saw works great on pumpkins (and gourds!), but it’s blunt-tipped and challenging to hurt yourself with. The metal’s not terribly strong, so you’ll bend it out of shape before you really impale yourself with it.
- Silica gel. This comes in medicine bottles and shoe boxes, among other places.
- Vaseline. Yes, you are going to lube your vumpkin.
Peanut was very, very excited about making the vumpkins. He helped pick out the little gourds at the store, and he was ecstatic when I said it was time to carve them about a week ago. He was also a very good little helper.
For each vumpkin, I started out by having him tell me which side to cut the mouth in. For this, you’re going to saw a hole for the fangs. I found that the real decider for the size of the hole is the height at the hinges of the fangs: if it’s too tight there, the vumpkin will have a serious overbite. In addition to picking the side for the fangs, I also had Peanut tell me whether or not he thought the fangs would fit in the hole. It was a good activity to get him started guesstimating fit–and it was challenging, so I definitely needed the help!
Once we got the hole about the right size, it was time to clean out the vumpkins. Yup–they’ve got goo in there, just like a regular pumpkin. Peanut was eager to help, but he did not want to stick his fingers into the little pumpkin. Instead, he had me stick my fingers in to pull out the goo, then plop the goo in his little hands so he could toss it in the trash can. I would’ve rather he had the full tactile experience of pulling out the pumpkins’ innards, but he did get the smell (pumpkin-y!) and feel (slimy!) of the pumpkin guts.
Next, it was time to lube the vumpkin. I’d learned from my friend T that Vaseline, of all things, helps pumpkins last longer. Peanut was more than willing to stick his fingers in the jar of Vaseline and rub petroleum jelly all over the vumpkins’ lips. This was another good tactile experience–the cut edges of the vumpkins feel different than the innards, and the Vaseline has a different texture than the vumpkin guts.
Next, I had Peanut pop a packet of silica gel in each vumpkin. I’d read that the silica gel helps Halloween pumpkins last longer and figured I’d give it a shot. Besides–the silica gel is free! We then inserted the fangs and adjusted the fit.
Finally, we picked out two little red beady eyes for each vumpkin. Peanut helped push the pins into the pumpkins; he tended to push at an angle, so I had to help quite a bit with this.
Then, viola! Vumpkins:
The picture’s about a week after the carving. Although the vumpkins are still cute, they’ve been relocated outside. The silica gel did not work so well as I had hoped–of course, we just tossed the little packets in without opening them. The Vaseline worked great–their little lips are still perfectly glossed. If you’re able to clean out the innards really well (I wasn’t) and lube the inside of the vumpkin (we didn’t), that would be the way to go to really preserve them.
So, why do I think this is a good craft for you to do with your B/VI kiddo?
- It’s small scale. I think it’s easier to understand what a jack-o-lantern (or vumpkin!) ‘looks’ like when you can hold the whole thing in your hand.
- It’s safe. I cut the mouths out for our vumpkins, but I think an older child would be able to do it tactile-ly without problems. The saws truly are difficult to hurt yourself with (and this is coming from the Queen of the Klutzes), and they’re really easy to use.
- Lots of tactile interest. The pumpkin itself: the different layers of pumpkin, going from the outside skin to the inner shell and the gooey center. The vampire fangs, and figuring out how the fangs bend and fit into the hole in the pumpkin. The stick pins making little 3-D eyes.
- Other sensory input. The sound of the saw cutting through the shell, of the innards squishing. The smell of the Vaseline and the pumpkin itself.
- The sense of accomplishment. These little guys are small and fairly simple–and they’re something your kiddo should be able to do with just a little help.
Also, if you get to feeling uber-crafty, you and your kiddo could braille secret messages on the pumpkins with the pins. Bwahahaaa!
Post-Halloween Update: These are pretty darned easy to disassemble. The pins had gotten bent and gunky from their vumpkin experience, so we opted to toss those. The fangs clean super-easy in the silverware compartment in a dishwasher–they came out sparkling clean and ready to vumpkin again in 2013!