making polyfoam jack-o-lantern decorations

making polyfoam jack-o-lantern decorations

We had another Halloween party at the Casa this year, and somehow a flash of inspiration hit me when I was thinking about decorations: polystyrene foam balls painted like jack-o-lanterns, on christmas lights.

bag of foamballs

I picked up a bag of foam balls from the local craft store, and carved them out using the cutting wheel and the sanding wheel on a Dremel.

carving out theball

Carve it so there’s about 1-2cm of foam shell left. You want to be careful during this stage so as to keep a firm grip on the ball whilst carving it, otherwise you’re likely to have the ball flick around on the dremel, with disastrous consequences.

cut the face

The face can then be cut out using the cutting wheel. Pictured here, my favourite face. You have limited amount of creative control when using a straight edge, so most of my experiments with faces ended up looking unspooky or just bizarre. A hotknife can give you better facial features but you’ve got to watch out for toxic fumes from the foam :)

first coat second coat

Do two coats of water-based paint, to make the colour nice and bright. Don’t use enamel paint or you’re likely to dissolve your precious jacks.


Drill some holes in the top for the lights to poke through, then paint on some leaves. You can get a snug fit for the lights, but I usually didn’t bother, so the bulb would be close to the centre of the ball for better illumination from within.

jack top view

Poke the lights in, and fix them with a dab of hot glue.

test them

Test them! You might find some of the lights aren’t working, swap the jacks around on the vine until you get them all glowing.

the vine glowing

The finished product! I hung them with gaffer tape from the roof of the patio, and then draped them around the plants on the side.

There are more photos in the polyfoam jacks set on flickr.

Thanks to unknownblogger, who has managed to make them look superb with the green downlight.