So, being as it’s Halloween week, and we’re never ones to turn down a seasonally-themed DIY, today we’re bringing you an alternative way to get seriously bohemian all over that pumpkin you bought and planned to turn into a standard Jacko lantern… I mean, seriously, as cute as the triangles for eyes and zig-zag-mouthed pumpkin face was in the 90s, I think we’ve moved on a little since then – wouldn’t you say?!
Now, what if I said that we’re gonna henna and burn designs onto our pumpkins… Ha! I knew that’d get your free-spirited, bohemian attention!
So, whether you just fancy a bit of a TREAT (no Halloween related pun intended, at all, nada. Ok, maybe a little) or if you’re planning to use pumpkins to decorate your dessert table or aisle (you totally should be doing this FYI, they’re friggin’ GORGE) then this DIY is gonna get your bad boho-self totally over excited!
While we’re here, a major thanks to my beau at Old Bear Media for shooting this DIY for us!
To Pumpkin, or to Gourd?
A Gourd. Say WHAAT?
gourd noun. 1. the fleshy usually large fruit of a trailing or climbing plant of the family Cucurbitaceae.
…Writing this post, my friends, has been a voyage of discovery! Not just any old coloured pumpkin, oh no! A gourd. Who knew, right?!
So, (Botanists feel free to correct me, my fingers are most definitely not green) from what I gathered, those beautiful dark green/blue babies are gourds and those little mini-style pumpkins – also known as gourds! They’re a little more on the pricey side in comparison to your average pumpkin (we’re only talking a few pounds more though, mind), but the variation in size, shape and colour is totally worth it!
On my little voyage of discovery, I found that for the burning technique the dark green gourds gave a lovely subtle finish, whereas the orange produced an equally beautiful, but more striking black mark. However (!) FYI don’t even go there with a white pumpkin, (I made that mistake for you!) burning discolours the surrounding flesh – so that’s a no go! Whereas, for the purpose of henna-ing, the white pumpkins totally gave the best results, resulting in a stunning, henna-ed finish.
Also worth a thought: if you’re looking to create repetitive designs, like I have, take the time to search for the most symmetrical and well-rounded pumpkin you can, it’ll make all the difference to the finished look!
- Pre-made henna cones. I got mine here and found that for the large pumpkin, I used 3/4 of a cone.
- A few sheets of kitchen towel.
- A pyrography tool. This one’s mine, the variable tips are brilliant for getting different effects (I’ll share some wisdom on which I thought worked best later)
- Some design inspiration. I researched Mandalas on Pinterest for my henna designs and kept to straight-lined and dot-based designs for the burning (curves are a huge no no! Again, I’ll explain more later!).
- Paper and a pencil
And some optional extras:
- One comfy, autumnal knitted sweater. Just to get you in the mood, you know?
- A cuppa – this isn’t the quickest DIY (but hot dayum is it worth it!) and it’s getting kinda chilly, right?!
Hella Cute Henna
OKAY THEN! Let’s get this DIY going!
Ha, so the hardest bit goes a little something like this:
You’ve spent the morning browsing all those beautiful pumpkins and you’ve nailed it, you’ve chosen the perfect selection and you’ve lugged them all the way to the car and now? Now all you wanna do is attack them immediately with a multitude if henna-ed patterns and burned lines, You’ll just freestyle it, right?…
Well WOAH NOW, keen Jean! Step away from the dang pumpkin! First up, you gotta get that design right. SO important.
Print off as much inspo as you want, add a little free-spirited flair and form your designs. However many you want, sketch them out, check they’re gonna work and make the very most of your beautiful pumpkins. Take the time – trust me, it’s worth it!
Snip the very end off your henna cone and when I say ‘very end’ I mean like, the tiniest little snip! The rule is this: snip then test. Yup, we’re being
What you’re aiming to achieve is a smooth flow of henna, i.e. a significant enough snip that the henna will continuously flow, but the smallest tip possible to get a beautifully delicate, fine line of henna, that way you’ll totally ace a more intricate design. Trust me, this little tip will transform your henna-power!
BOOM. You’re welcome.
Whack on that new alt-j album, or maybe a bit of Ben Howard’s new stuff, utilise all your inspo and enjoy taking your sweet-sweet time!
1) Use 2 hands, it may look a little goofy, but you can thereby apply gentle pressure to maintain that flow with your top hand while directing the nib with your writing hand.
2) The nib of your henna cone should be almost touching the surface of the pumpkin when you begin a line, to get the henna to stick at your starting point, but then, like piping icing, avoid dragging the nib across the surface and instead keep the tip a small distance from the surface, allow the henna to almost ‘fall’ into place. This’ll create even, piped lines, non o’those nasty smeared drags.
3) Unless you’re aiming for orange dyed skin (yes, I’m talking from experience and yes, I still have amber stains all over me), keep a bit of kitchen towel nearby to catch any excess henna or mop up any little mistakes. This stuff stains, and fast!
Burn, Baby, Burn
Pyrography noun. the art or technique of decorating wood or leather by burning a design on the surface with a heated metallic point.
…I told you this had been a voyage of discovery hey?! Now this, this is a ridiculously cool art to master. You could totally use this tool to adorn wooden signposts for your wedding, even create little wooden or leather magnet favours… Or, of course, you could burn a pumpkin, like a totally normal person *face palms*
Ok! So, earlier I said I’d share a little tried and tested advice with y’all regarding which tiny brass tip to use to burn lines into your pumpkin (which is why it’s such a good call to buy one with multiple tips, they make all the difference!). After having tried a tip that resembled the end of a ballpoint pen, thinking this would be the most appropriate to draw thin lines with, I discovered that the action of having to drag the pinprick size surface area of this nib through the pumpkin flesh is particularly arduous, did not produce clean or thin lines (ARGH!) and by dragging the nib, it actually removed the darker coloured burnt flesh, which you really want to stay put in your newly burned grooves to produce that lovely darkened line.
Genius that he is, my beau had the brain wave of using the super thin edge of a more angled nib to effectively ‘stamp’ the lines to create my Aztec style design. Genius, I tell you!
As it happened, I found that the super narrow surface area of this nib actually glided through the pumpkin flesh WAY easier. And, all the more fabulous, the pointed end created sweet tiny triangular dots when gently pressed into the gourd’s flesh – success!
Just one thing, and I hate to be that girl that mothers you, but PLEASE TAKE CARE. Never leave your heated/heating tool unattended, use the little stand supplied with the tool to keep it off surfaces and beware of that suuuuuper hot tip! Oh, and FYI, if you can burn outside or in a well ventilated room (yes, again, talking from experience!).
Ok, overly protective rant over, enjoy!
Go on, take the afternoon off and get yourself in the Halloween mood with these hella cute pumpkins!
Peace + Love