The Poor Painted Pumpkin

I am creative, but I’m not crafty. There’s a world of difference between the two. I think it comes down to this: All crafty people are creative, but not all creative people are crafty.

Crafty people can do all those wondrous crafty things like enlarge tiny patterns in magazines, handle hot glue guns, and create puffy pom-poms that don’t fall apart. They can follow the step-by-step directions on craft projects and end up with something that looks exactly like the picture. And, being creative, they can even add their own personal touches to make their craft projects uniquely their own.

People like me, however, who are creative but not crafty rarely get beyond step one, and if we try, it only gets worse from there.

Consider the case of the poor, pathetic painted pumpkin now sitting on our front porch.

Poor Painted Pumpkin (2)

Only a few hours ago, this was a happy little pumpkin at the grocery store, just waiting for someone to come along, take it home with them, and turn it into a delicious pie. Instead, I came along.

I loved the little pumpkin. It would be perfect for a pumpkin-painting craft project I was planning to do. And surely this time I would actually be able to complete the project. When it was all over, I would have a beautiful painted pumpkin proclaiming how thankful I am for all my blessings. It would be perfect as part of my autumn décor, or maybe I would even give it as a gift to my sister. Oh, what grand and glorious dreams I had for this little pumpkin.

Let me be honest here. As I said, I’m not a crafty person. Although I greatly admire those who do craft, I have an underlying fear and loathing of anything crafty. I think it’s because of those art-classes-that-weren’t-really-art-classes I had back in school. We were given projects to complete, but no guidance on how to do them. I tried, but my projects were always lopsided, leaning, coming unglued, or otherwise falling apart at the seams.

So why would I even think about painting a pumpkin? Well, it sounded a lot easier than the sunflower gourd project I thought I wanted to do. The more I read about crafting with gourds, the more apprehensive I became. Forget the gourds. I don’t have the crafting skill for that. As for the gourd project book I got, well, I got it for free, and it will make a nice donation to the thrift shop.

I could have gone happily through the autumn season without attempting any sort of craft had it not been for the publishing company that sent me an unsolicited copy of Country Woman magazine. I didn’t ask for it. I received it, I’m sure, because I fit one of their reader demographics: old woman who doesn’t work outside of home. That magazine — like the gourd-crafting book — was headed for the donation box. It actually did go into the box, but unfortunately for the aforementioned pumpkin, the magazine fell open to a “Make It” article titled Gorgeous Gourds. The cheerful headline says:

Decorate pumpkins without carving, so they’ll stick around through Thanksgiving.

“Don’t even look,” I quickly advised myself, but it was too late. I’d already spotted a pumpkin that — compared to the others in the accompanying picture — looked fairly simple to craft.

Make It (2)

The materials list was relatively short and relatively simple, too. And the directions? They seemed easy enough. I was sure I could successfully complete this project.

Should you want to try, here are the materials you’ll need:

  • Pumpkin
  • Cream and gold acrylic craft paint
  • Chalk
  • Paintbrushes
  • Hot glue gun
  • Rags

And the step-by-step directions:

  1. Using a wide brush, paint pumpkin with cream paint.
  2. Write “Thankful” on pumpkin with chalk. Trace over the lettering with hot glue. Dry thoroughly.
  3. Paint 2-3 coats of gold paint over letters with small brush.
  4. Using a large brush, apply a thin coat of gold paint over whole pumpkin, increasing the concentration of paint in pumpkin creases. Remove any excess paint with a rag, using small, circular motions. Paint stem gold. Dry thoroughly.
  5. Paint a thin coat of cream paint over pumpkin ridges, removing excess with a rag. Dry thoroughly.

After our noon meal, I cleaned up the kitchen and then put on my old painting clothes. I washed the little pumpkin off, still thinking of how lovely my craft project would look when finished.

I carried the little pumpkin to the porch, put down a vinyl tablecloth, brought out my craft paints, and grabbed a wide brush. I was ready for Step One.

But Step One didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped. Instead of a lovely cream-colored pumpkin, I had an orange pumpkin with a thin coat of cream acrylic over it. The orange still showed through. Well, just let it dry and paint it again. 

The second coat did look better, but not by much. As for trying to write on the pumpkin with chalk? I couldn’t very well write on my cream-colored pumpkin with white chalk and since white chalk was all I had, maybe I really didn’t want to write on it all, did I? I considered trying to write with an orange crayon, but by that point the thought of getting out a hot glue gun and… well, no, I really didn’t need Thankful or any other word on my little pumpkin. Maybe next time.

Skipping Step 2 and Step 3, I moved on to Step 4 and applied “a thin coat of gold paint over the whole pumpkin”. I tried following the instructions. I really did. When I came to the part about removing excess paint with a rag, it removed not only the gold but the two layers of cream beneath it.

That wasn’t supposed to happen, was it?

I thought about using the cream color to paint the pumpkin again but realized it probably wouldn’t help much. I was feeling sorry for the poor little pumpkin, and I was feeling a little sorry for myself, too. I’m just not a crafty person. I never have been, and I never will be.

So, the next time I write about some crafty little project I’ve seen, just stop me right there. Especially if it involves pumpkin, squash, or any other sort of gourd. The gourds of the world will be grateful. They will thank you for saving them from people like me who would love to craft but can’t.


    1. Crafting projects just never seem to turn out for me the way they should. 😦 The only ones that have been successful have been a few simple things with grandkids — we’ve made snakes with buttons, and we usually do an easy Halloween graft like making ghosts or bats. One year I did a craft project with my sister and the other residents at Living Communities, a senior living community. We made turkeys for Thanksgiving from colored foam. That was really a lot of fun, and the residents all enjoyed it. That’s the extent of my craftiness, though. (Although, I am stockpiling wax right now and am planning to make a candle. We’ll see how that turns out!)

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      1. I’m planning to just make one of those very simple “ice candles” where you fill a milk carton with ice and then pour in the hot wax. I bought a little pumpkin spice fragrance to use. My mother decided to make a candle once, and went on to become quite a candle-maker, but she was the crafty sort. That woman could do anything, make anything, build anything. Except that she could never learn to crochet LOL. That always annoyed her. Well, she finally did learn to do “broomstick lace” (which I think is the same as what’s called Tunisian crochet today), but I’m just rambling on here this morning. Gotta go grab my breakfast now and sit down for my drawing time. I will let you know how the candle-making turns out. I’ll probably try it Thursday or Friday.


      2. Oh I’ve never heard of doing it that way. How cool. I’ve only done the drip and dip ones and the ones where you just fill a jar with a whole bunch of tiny pieces of different colored waxes.
        Crocheting is very difficult!
        Have a great day

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      3. I love crocheting. I taught myself as a child using the book my mother had. She got so frustrated she was going to throw the book away. I said I wanted to learn so she said, “Fine. You figure it out and then show me.” So, I figured it out. I tried to show her and she just couldn’t get it. It was actually kind of funny since she was so good at every other kind of craft. I’ve been crocheting ever since. When you have a chance, do a quick search for “ice candles” and you’ll find YouTube videos or other articles showing how easy they are to make. If I’m successful with this first one, I’ll probably get adventurous and try another. Filling a jar with different colored waxes… sounds like my kind of candle! I will look that up. 🙂 Thanks!


      4. I have a neighbor who does crocheting. It’s absolutely amazing what she can create! Funny that your mom couldn’t do it when she was good at everything. Interesting how our brains work so differently, isn’t it?
        Going to check out those ice candles now!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Yes, our brains are just wired for different things, I suppose. What’s so funny to me is that when she finally learned “Broomstick Lace” and started making afghans, she showed me how to do it. I thought it was 100 times harder than regular crocheting LOL.

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  1. We have some things in common! 😂 My crafting skills are nonexistent. My oldest daughter is a talented cartoonist. My husband is much better at crafts than I could ever dream of being but I just keep trying. My personal favorite was a jewelry making class that resulted in me being able to make strings of pearl beads and nothing else. It feels like every woman I’m surrounded by currently in the ‘burbs are these Pinterest super moms too.

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