The best primitive fall decorating ideas usually include some fun DIY projects. And I’ve got the perfect DIY project for you!

These plaster-cloth pumpkins are made from three old ones that I picked up at a garage sale. It’s hard to believe the transformation – and for less than $5.00 total!

plaster cloth pumpkins for primitive fall art

The finished pumpkins will look great on a coffee table in your living room, or in your front porch décor. And this DIY is easy enough for the whole family to help with! (though I don’t recommend this project for infants or very young children).

two styrofoam upcycled pumpkins and a grapevine pumpkin

I went to a Fall garage sale and spotted an adorable grapevine pumpkin. It fits just perfectly with my living room décor. Then the seller showed me two plastic pumpkins in metallic fall colors. How could I possibly say no – especially when she told me the price!

I got all three pumpkins for only one (1) dollar!

What better way to celebrate the autumn season than a bargain purchase that’s carbon neutral and makes a great fall craft project that doubles as fall décor?

Each pumpkin is roughly 6″ tall, including the stems, and they all vary in width. If I used acrylic paint to turn them all into white pumpkins, they would be perfect for a myriad of primitive fall decorating ideas I had.

But my inner rebel artist muse decided it wanted more texture and a pop of fall color to go with my vintage treasures and primitive décor, so I pulled out a roll of one of my favorite art supplies: plaster cloth.

An unopened package of OrthoTape plaster cloth on a green and white plain dishtowel

If you haven’t used plaster cloth before, you’re in for a treat. Plaster cloth is an amazing, fun, and messy delight to work with! It dries quickly and can be used is so many ways.

NOTE: I use affiliate links in this post and earn a small commission if you purchase anything. The price is the same whether you use the affiliate link or go directly to the vendor’s website using a non-affiliate link.


What is Plaster Cloth?

Plaster cloth is essentially the same product used for making casts when you break a bone. It is a gauze material dipped in Plaster of Paris, dried, and cut into strips. It is also known as plaster wrap, plaster sheets, plaster bandages, or plaster of Paris strips.

In the art world, plaster cloth is used for making 3D sculptures, making journal covers, and adding texture to a multitude of surfaces including canvas and cradled wood canvases. It adheres nicely to just about any surface, and dries fairly quickly into a strong, hard finish.

Plaster cloth cut into strips

Plaster cloth is usually sold in rolls of varying widths and lengths, and can be purchased through medical suppliers and at art supply stores.

I purchased my small case of twelve rolls on Amazon.com for less than $1.75 per roll. This project uses only one roll for two 6″ tall plastic pumpkins, so you can buy a single roll here (but it will cost you more than if you buy in bulk).

NOTE when using plaster cloth for primitive fall decorating ideas:

Plaster cloth is very messy to work with! And it will dry quickly into a hard chunk, so do not dispose or use it by a sink because you might end up with a very expensive plumbing bill. Use a separate tub or pan of water to dip the cloth into, and work on a table or surface covered with paper or plastic that can be thrown away. I used a damp and old dish towel (see photo above), and washed the towel afterwards outside with a hose.

Also note that the instructions and supply list below are for the pumpkins shown in the photo at the beginning of this blog post. You can use whatever size or type of fake pumpkin you want to use for the plaster cloth (just don’t use real pumpkins because they will turn into a rotten mess!)

Supplies Needed

Instructions for making plaster cloth pumpkins

  1. Clean your pumpkins first with a damp cloth and allow them to dry. While the pumpkins are drying, fill the small tub or pan with water and set aside.
  2. Put on your safety mask and open the roll of plaster cloth. Carefully pull out the roll of plaster cloth and measure a length that is approximately 1/2 the size of the pumpkin, from top to bottom.
  3. Cut several more strips of the same size – enough to cover the pumpkin in its entirety.
Measuring plaster bandages before cutting for primitive fall decor pumpkin project

4. Dip a strip of plaster cloth into the water and pull it out.

Small white enamel pan with water in it to be used for dipping a strip of plaster cloth in

5. Place the wet strip onto the surface of the pumpkin, and use your hands to manipulate the cloth and the wet plaster. When the strip is in the place you want it to be, dip another dry strip of plaster cloth into the water and repeat until the pumpkin is covered.

– TIP: Smoothing the surface with your fingers will help fill in the holes of the gauze, and you can continue rubbing the surface to show off the texture of the pumpkin if desired.

Smoothing wet plaster cloth onto a plastic pumpkin

6. When the plaster dries, it hardens and will stick onto the surface.

Plaster cloth pumpkins are drying on a patio in the sun next to a container garden - they are perfect for an article about primitive fall decorating ideas

7.Allow the plaster cloth to dry on the pumpkins for several hours or overnight.

Decorating the Dried Pumpkins

Glazing painted pumpkins with brown paint and matte medium

While the pumpkins are drying, begin painting the grapevine pumpkin with the chip brush and your paint of choice. I suggest using either mineral chalk paint or an acrylic paint in your choice of color (I used Fusion mineral paint color Picket Fence which is a light off white).

Painting the surface of the painted pumpkins will bring out the texture of the plaster cloth.

To add a little color and make the pumpkins look more primitive, mix several tablespoons of matte medium with a few drops of burnt umber light and raw umber acrylic paint.

Brush small portions of the pumpkin with the glaze, and use a rough cloth to wipe it off. Note: the harder you rub, the more glaze comes off which exposes the white surface underneath.

Don’t forget to glaze the stems of the pumpkins as well as the grapevine pumpkin, and allow them to dry.

If you removed the stems prior to adding the plaster cloth (like I did), re-attach them using a glue gun or strong adhesive like Gorilla glue .

plaster cloth pumpkins for primitive fall decorating

– Here is a photo of what the three newly glazed pumpkins look like together.

Finishing Touches for the Pumpkins

To finish the pumpkins, you can add a raffia bow or some fresh greenery around the stems.

For the pumpkins above, I cut a few snippets of fresh Rosemary and laid them across the top. The herbs lasted the season and I liked the way the greenery enhanced the burnt orange pumpkins.

You can leave them as-is, or style them using some of your favorite fall flowers. You can also set them on a table underneath a beautiful fall wreath that’s hanging on a wall.

Plaster Cloth Pumpkins in your Primitive Fall Decorating Ideas

I created a quick fall foliage flower arrangement with some dried eucalyptus stems and some various items in fall hues, then set the pumpkins next to it. The grouping is on my bedroom dresser, and looks quite festive.

For the finishing touch, I’m going to accessorize the room with a couple of plaid blankets and some cute throw pillows.

More Primitive Fall Decorating Ideas for Plaster Cloth Pumpkins

  • Group your plaster cloth pumpkins in the middle of your dining table and weave a strand of battery-operated twinkle lights around them. Tuck in some orange mini pumpkins, some artificial or real magnolia leaves, sprigs of freshly-cut rosemary, and/or some bay leaves.
  • Use smaller pumpkins covered with plaster cloth and glue them onto a grapevine wreath. Add some eucalyptus and greenery and a burlap bow for a beautiful front door decoration,
  • Create a plaster cloth pumpkin topiary by drilling holes down the middle of each pumpkin and placing them on a dowel. Poke the dowel into a piece of floral foam that’s been taped inside a size-appropriate planter. Before setting the pumpkins into planter, glue some dried moss on top of the foam and glue the dowel into the planter/foam with a glue gun. Add a ribbon if desired, or a simple jute bow to the stem of pumpkin on top of the arrangement.

Potential Christmas Use For The Pumpkins

three faux pumpkins painted white stacked on top of each other for a post about primitive fall decorating ideas

Here’s a picture of what the three pumpkins looked like stacked on top of each other.

It reminds me of a pumpkin snowman instead of a DIY for primitive fall decorating ideas, so maybe this will be a future project for Christmas decor??

Storage Tips for Your Pumpkins

Storing your finished pumpkins after the season is easy too! Just place them in a box and keep in a cool, dry place like a closet. They will last many years as long as you keep them away from moisture or excessive cold or heat.

It’s hard to beat primitive Fall decorating ideas when they cost under $5.00 to make!

Plus this easy DIY project gave me even more primitive fall decorating ideas that I can’t wait to share them with you.

For another easy DIY project that’s family friendly and fun for any season, check out my word stones made from beach rocks.

BEFORE YOU GO: Read how to make a journaling station from an old suitcase!

PIN this DIY project for your primitive fall decorating ideas today!


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20 Comments

    1. Thank you, Carol – I appreciate your comment!! By the way, I am a huge fan of your blog and am thrilled to meet a fellow boomer blogger 🙂

    1. Many thanks, Dee! I’m pretty happy with how they turned out and can’t wait to make some more things with the plaster cloth.

  1. I never heard of plaster cloth. Thanks for introducing me to it. You do such lovely work.
    Visiting today from #AnythingGoesLinky#16,17&18

    1. Plaster cloth is so much fun to work with, Paula — it’s messy but worth it 🙂 Thanks for visiting and your sweet comments!!

  2. These turned out amazing! So unique. Thanks for sharing on the Sundays on Silverado link party.
    Niky

    1. Thank you, Niky! And thank you for letting me share on your wonderful Silverado link party 🙂

  3. Your pumpkins are really creative. I had never heard o plaster cloth but it is very interesting for that worn look.
    Very creative crafting. Thank you for sharing at #omhgww. See you next week.

    1. Thank you, Clearissa! Plaster cloth is very versatile and can be used for just about anything you’d use paper mache for. I’m looking forward to sharing more projects with this product!

    1. Thank you so much! It really was a fun project make and I’m looking forward to sharing more DIY’s with plaster cloth soon.

  4. Great project, and I really LOVE the quality of Golden Paints and use them for my doll faces. The plaster cloth is an excellent idea, I do have some extra spooky fabric, I may modge-podge on some oldpumpkins!
    Great ideas, Sandi!

    1. Ooh – your project with the spooky pumpkins sounds like fun! Thanks for your kind comments too — aren’t Golden paints the best??!!

  5. I’ve never heard of plaster cloth, but when you described how it’s used to build casts, that was enlightening! I’m not a huge on crafts, but I can see where there are quite a few ways to have fun with this! Thank you for the very clear tutorial! I am visiting from Vintage Home Designs Fabulous Friday. Oh – another Boomer here too!

    1. I think I’m just getting started with what all plaster cloth can be used for, Kristine!! I bought a case with 12 rolls so you can be sure I’m going to be exploring my options with this wonderful medium. Thanks for visiting and it’s great to meet a fellow boomer blogger 🙂

  6. I have never used plaster cloth before, but it looks fun to work with! Your pumpkins turned out great! Thanks for sharing! Blessings, Donna

    1. Thank you, Donna! I have used plaster cloth for years in my painting but only recently began exploring other artsy options. Using it on the pumpkins has given me so many more ideas – I can’t wait to do more plaster projects soon!

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