Monday, October 17, 2011

2011 HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN ARCH CONSTRUCTION


We decided to change up our annual Halloween Display this year including adding this Jack O Lantern Arch at the entrance to our doorway.
We got some ideas from photos we had viewed online however the final result was achieved via some trial, error and on the go fixes including the use of Duct Tape.

We have had many questions on how it was done so here you go...
Try it at your own risk, expense and patience... :)

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First we purchased 30 pumpkins.
We found these at Michaels, Joanne's and Target. They are a foam type, hollow and can be carved.
We spent a couple of hours carving various scary, happy and Disneyesque faces...
Then we needed something to put them on.
We visited Lowe's Hardware store where we found 4 foot rebar and a whole lot of PVC pipe and connectors. With a idea on paper and some general measurements we began cutting... and cutting... and cutting... Oh... and measuring too... sometimes...
And here is the result and basic framework of the arch:
this arch measure 8 feet tall, 10 feet wide and includes a 45 degee angle portion on each side to compliment the arch style. We first pounded in 4 rebar's into the ground and placed the PVC pipe over them to create stability. This has worked very well so far.
We also included 6 cross bars fairly equally distributed around the arch to create stability and a uniform distance between the two main PVC pipes.
Then... we got started placing pumpkins with the biggest one on the top right in the middle.
We also chose to place the smaller sizes right next to the big guy to emphasize his stature.
These carvable pumpkins are hollow and are fairly light weight so things seemed fine soooo... we added more pumpkins to the arch:
We secured the pumpkins to the PVC pipe with a craft wire we found at Michael's. The wire is wrapped with a brown paper material so blended in well.
This is when we decided that the arch needed a little more securing.
The weight wasn't getting too bad yet however, it does get windy in the PNW and that could cause a problem. Se we purchased some small gauge wire and screw in hooks and tied the wire around various key points on the arch and five main support locations on the house, front, back and sides of the arch.
Then we added more pumpkins...
Then... we realized we didn't have nearly enough pumpkins...
Lucky for us there were sales... 50% off at Michaels and Joanne's. Whew...

We were having some issues with getting the pumpkins to sit just right on the arch so I added this 2 inch x 1/2 inch x 8 foot board on the top to help support the pumpkins.
Once the arch was full of pumpkins, two rows and two wide. 70 pumpkins in all... we then moved on to stringing and placing the lights in the jack o lanterns.
Be sure to use lights that are for outdoor use.
Then we needed to hide the PVC pipe... We painted some of it black and in retrospect, I recommend painting it all brown or black before you set it up.
We then found fall leafy vines at Michael's and Joanne's for 60% and 80% off and filled in the gaps!!


Here is what the PVC arch corners and the cross members look like:
After much duct tape, stringing of lights and outdoor power strips, vines and touch ups...
Here is the finished product:

After nearly 2 full days of work, numerous trips to Hardware and Crafts stores and several more hours of set up and carving... we are very pleased with the final product. Now we just hope it holds together when the wind and rains comes...

And now ladies and gentlemen...
Here is the arch lit up at night:

If you choose to give this a try... plan for more time than you think and many more pumpkins that you think...
Good luck and Happy Halloween!!

34 comments:

  1. oh my i must make one of my own!! i have a question tho! what type of light strands did you use for this? they must be at least C-9's? and they seem widely spaced as compared to a regular light strand? did you uses several strands for each pumpkin or wire these specially? any instructions on the wiring and lighting would be great thanks!

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  2. Yes. C-9 Bulbs. I used shorter length strings of 6 to 8 bulbs each. Light strings are similar to ones used for Department 56 displays. I placed several outlet strips along the arch. If there were bulbs inbetween pumpkins I was not able to use I removed or blacked out. Will be making again this year and plussing it up for even more!

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  3. This is beautiful! I found it via Pinterest. I was wondering if you use have to pierce the pumpkins in order to hang them with that little brown-wrapped wire, or do you just use it to secure the light cords to the PVC pipe?

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    1. Hi Trick! Yes, need to poke holes in the pumpkins for the ties to ensure they stay in place. This ensures that each pumpkin is set and they don't move around... Especially in the wind...

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  4. Forgot to hit the button that notifies me of follow-up comments, so I'll ask another: how are you storing 70 pumpkins?

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    1. Holiday storage unit... Doesn't EVERYONE have this?? ;)

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  5. This is sooooo awesome! Forgive me for asking but how much did this project cost?

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    1. Thanks Tera. It has been built up over a few years... We now have over 150 Jack O Lanterns on this project.

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  6. I wanted to ask you if you've dealt with rain yet and if the pumpkins filled with water or not. Also did you put a film over the openings in order to diffuse the light or can you see the bulbs through the openings. I've had several friends tell me I should make this but our archway is twice as big and honestly I don't think I have the energy! :) Oh and yes I to have a holiday storage unit!

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    1. Kie, it rains alot here near Seattle during October. They used to fill with water a bit however I now have holes drilled in the bottom of each to allow for drainage. I place the bulbs in a manner that is low or high inside the pumpkin so you usually cannot see the light... I also use Orange lights and some that flicker... It is alot of work but it is so worth it!

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  7. Thanks for sharing your DIY! It is so beautiful! I want to do something like this myself. :)
    Valarie Lemons

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  8. This is awesome ! Where can I buy the light strings for the pumpkins ? Thanks

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    1. I use regular Christmas light strings with C7 bulbs.., all orange.

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  9. WOW...you guys don't mess about...excellent!

    We'd like to share this over at ours and I'll get the link to you when its live.

    Thanks Jamie

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    1. Here you go! http://www.renocompare.com/2015/09/xx-of-the-best-diy-halloween-decoration-ideas/

      Thanks so much!

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  10. Replies
    1. Thanks Patti! Wait until you see this year's!!

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    2. Have you posted this year's yet?? So awesome!!! Great job!!!!!

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  11. This is fabulous! I'm attempting this next year- just got a boatload of pumpkins in a discount grab bag at Michael's. So now I get to think about it all winter!! I would love to see this year's pumpkins!!

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  12. Man, this is amazing. It's usually my husband who goes crazy for Halloween decorating, and we won't have enough time to do it this year, but I don't think I'll have a problem convincing him for next year! Fantastic idea, and thank you so much for sharing!!

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  13. Man, this is amazing. It's usually my husband who goes crazy for Halloween decorating, and we won't have enough time to do it this year, but I don't think I'll have a problem convincing him for next year! Fantastic idea, and thank you so much for sharing!!

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  14. Michaels and/or JoAnns should be paying you! They will make a killing in pumpkin sales after people see this!

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  15. I have checked numerous craft store websites, and I cannot find these foam pumpkins listed anywhere! Anyone have any luck in the hunt? :) 8/19/2016

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    1. We got them at Michaels stores and carved them ourselves.

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  16. I'm in the process of building now I bought my first wave of 20 pumpkins from Michaels and Joann Fabric. Even on sale Id say I've spent 150 with 50 more to buy ! But it will be worth it!

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  18. Hi there, I am also in the process of making this arch, but I have a question about the pumpkins on the sides. How do you attach them to keep them from sliding down the pipe, or are they sitting/resting on the ones right below them?

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    1. They are resting one on top of the other and then they are also tied to the frame to keep them in place

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    2. Ok thank you very much! I love your archway, mine will only be about half that size because I have a narrower entry way, but I'm very excited as I see it start to take shape. Thanks so much for your ingenuity!!

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  20. Maybe 1/2 way done my arch. Thanks for the inspiration. Will update when I'm done. It does take a lot longer than I imagined.

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    1. Fantastic! Looking forward to the photos!

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