DIY Pumpkin Pi

Hello all! I thought I’d switch things up and post a little how-to for everyone for a project I did this weekend. Behold! Pumpkin pi!

A craft pumpkin has fall silk flowers on top and the pi symbol carved into the front.

Oh my god, I am the dumbest. But how can I resist a pun like this?!

This was fun and easy to make. Let’s talk supplies.

A picture of a workbench with various tools and a stencil of a pi symbol.

Tools:

  • One craft pumpkin (we opted for the kind with the back pre-cut out)
  • A printed picture of the pi symbol (here’s one from Wikimedia! I resized it in Word)
  • Pins, like sewing pins
  • A pen
  • A sharp tool like an x-acto knife
  • One LED tea light (those craft pumpkins are WAY flammable)

Extra Credit:

  • Seasonal fake flowers/foliage
  • Ribbon
  • A wire cutter
  • Hot glue, zip ties, etc.
  • Maybe a drill!

 

Here’s the step by step for creating your own pumpkin pi!

A craft pumpkin with an open back sits on a workbench. Crafting materials surround it.

1. Print our your pi symbol after looking at your pumpkin and getting an idea of how tall you want that guy. My pumpkin was a medium size so my pi symbol is about 4.5″ tall. Snip around the pi symbol, cutting in some relief cuts (see picture below) since the pumpkin is slightly curved. Just makes the next step easier.

2. Position the pi symbol on the front of your pumpkin. Use a pin and press it into the craft pumpkin. You don’t need to worry about pressing the pin all the way inside. We just want it to produce a hole on the surface of the pumpkin. So maybe a third of the pin needs to be pressed in?

3. Start pushing in pins all around the pi symbol. You want to get a good outline going.

4. Once you’re sure you have the symbol totally outlined… pull them out. I know. It sounds crazy. Then remove the paper from the pumpkin. Here’s a photo of my pi symbol once I took the pins out.A pi symbol printed on paper with tiny dots outlining it.

See the holes? The holes create a “connect the dots” on your pumpkin.

5. Connect those dots! I used a ballpoint pen and just drew on the pumpkin. Nothing fancy there.

6. You should see a clear outline of a pi symbol on the surface of your pumpkin. Get your x-acto knife and carefully (CAREFULLY) start scoring the pumpkin along the outline you’ve traced. Work slowly. We worked best by scoring an inch or so before cutting in deeper to the pumpkin. The wall of the pumpkin was about 1/4″ thick, so be mindful of that, and don’t press too hard. You don’t want to bust off that middle part or break it.

7. Work around the symbol until you’ve free it! The edges may need some cleaning up so shave them down with your x-acto knife.

8. Put that LED tea light inside and enjoy!

EXTRA CREDIT:

I decided to arrange some fake flowers on the top with a nice green bow. This is more free form. GO FOR IT! but I’ll share some tips.

-Hot glue is your friend.

-So is a drill and a gentle hand! We bundled together the stems of the flowers and zip tied them together. We drilled a hole into the pumpkin’s stem very, very slowly (using a pilot hole) and once it was cleared we pushed the flowers through.

-The bow was zip tied to the flowers.

-Honestly, you could probably get away with just glueing a bow or flowers to it and not that fancy drill stuff. But if you want to try that, make sure you’re far enough down that you don’t just bust off the top of the stem.

-But heck – if you do, glue a flower on top! CRAFTING!

A craft pumpkin with a glowing pi symbol.

YOU DID IT. YOU MADE A FESTIVE, SEASONAL PUN THAT WILL DELIGHT AND IMPRESS! (Maybe!) CONGRATS!

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He and I like to make things. We just do it differently.

Husband Nick is starting a week of vacation. I am JEALOUS. A LOT. His plans are to bum around the house, relax, and maybe tinker with this place. He’s pretty handy. I think it’s why buying a house from the 1950s wasn’t intimidating to him. He has this wonderful mind where he can analyze and construct. Meanwhile, I like to research, write, and make puns with the word ‘fart’. We’re the two great tastes that taste great together. Or something.

We had a charging station for our cell phones. It was this number from Pottery Barn that I cannot fathom why they stopped selling it, because surely there are people who it would be perfect for. For us, we’d overgrown it. Observe:

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This station worked well for years when all of our electronics were flat, shiny rectangles. But now I had a small netbook and a tablet. We needed something new. I saw this idea on Pinterest where someone turned a mail organizer on it’s side and used the slots for their electronics. GENIUS. But alas, I could not find a similar organizer.

Nick looked at the picture and immediately pieced together himself how to create one. There was wood and glue and slots involved. I was in awe. He had it together in no time.

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newstationfinishedbackThe back has these openings, so we can thread the power cords down to the surge protector we have mounted to the bottom of the table this sits on. (A lot of surge protectors are mountable – just look on the back for some holes. You’ll put a couple screws in and slide the surge protector on to them.) We did use some cord organizers, leftover from a project we did with Ikea LEDs. (I should post that next!) Container Store has a lot of options for this, if you don’t think you have a way to wrangle them. Compensation free endorsement: I love me some Container Store. They need one in Michigan.

In conclusion, it’s nice to have someone handy around. I try not to invent projects for him, but I do want some shelving in our tiny bedroom closet. Is this a challenge for him? Or his wife’s way of punishing him for a week of luxuriating? Eh. Maybe a little of A and B.

How To Make Your Own Barbie Candy Dress Cake

I used to make candy cakes: Styrofoam cakes with candy hot glued to the outside. The candy simply pulls off the styrofoam and you take off the wrapper and enjoy. My Barbie Candy Cake is by far the most popular thing I’ve posted on Pinterest. It’s a cake with a REAL BARBIE DOLL INSIDE. No weird disembodied torso, OH NO. THE REAL DEAL. Here she is, in all her purple glory:

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Pretty neat, yes? The advantage of creating these cakes at the candy store was that there was professional equipment at our disposal, like a heated styrofoam cutter, and literally hundreds of sizes and shapes of candy. While you don’t have an entire candy store at the ready, this Barbie candy cake IS possible to make in your own home. And hey – I needed a birthday present, so now is just as good a time as any to make the tutorial.

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I will say that the equipment makes or breaks the “doability” of this project.

Supplies:

  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue
  • A hot styrofoam cutter OR serrated knife (a bread knife is cool)
  • A vacuum
  • A drill with spades*

*This is to drill the hole Barbie will go in. If you don’t have a drill you’re going to end up just hacking away a hole in the middle of the styrofoam so Barbie can go inside. Is this easy or safe? Not terribly. The wiser investment might be plunking down a 20 at Michaels for that hot styrofoam cutter.

Shopping List:

  • Anything from the above list you don’t have
  • (2) 8” Cake Dummies (they will be 4″ tall)
  • 1 9” Cake Round (Cardboard Circle)
  • Tissue Paper (to cover the cake round, so maybe in a coordinating color)
  • A chunk of cardstock 4”x8” (we literally used a chunk of a cereal box)
  • A Barbie, with a short skirt or bathing suit outfit
  • A giant pile of candy in your color scheme

 

Lets discuss the shopping list. The cake dummies are just round styrofoam chunks. Cake decorators use them for practice. You will use them to create the dress. They, and your cake round, can be purchased from any cake decoration store. Support a small business; shop at a local one!

As for the candy, I’d get a color theme in mind. Match it with your Barbie. My Barbie and candy was from around Valentine’s, so that’s why we’re working with a lot of red and pink. You want to make sure you’re picking things that will glue on easily. Anything like a Tootsie Roll isn’t ideal because the hot glue and the wax wrapper aren’t friends. It will just fall off. I love Air Heads candy because they’re a. delicious and b. get good coverage. Laffy Taffy in all it’s wonderful shapes and sizes is also a plus. The purple Barbie has a fan in the back of her dress made of a lollipop with more candy glued to it. My red Barbie just had a few small lollipops in the back. I like the tiny pops because they help fill weird holes and sometimes you can use the sticks for gluing (more on this below).

When thinking of where you can buy the candy, I’d look to local candy stores and bulk food shops first. I made the mistake of trying a Party City first. I went to three before giving up on them. A lesson in taking my own advice. Shop local!

A note: Please keep your kids in mind when picking candy. Allergies are always a concern and sometimes tiny candy is a choking hazard. Be mindful, be safe. Okay, you have a pile of tools! Lets GET TO WORK.

MAKING THE BARBIE CANDY CAKE:

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1. Glue the two cake dummies together using hot glue, one on top of the other. You don’t need to hot glue the thing to death, just enough to create a solid bond, so you have a cylinder that is 8″ tall and 8″ across. While the glue cools…

2. Mark center on both the top and the bottom. That’s 4” in. At this point you’ll pick out your wide spade for the drill or if using a foam cutter, measure a 2” circle to be your guide for cutting out the middle so Barbie can fit. Barbie has booty.

3. Oh yeah, secure Barbie’s skirt, if she has one. I used the rubber bands from her packaging.

4. Get your vacuum ready and drill/cut your hole, working from the top and bottom so you meet in the middle. Our spade was 1.5”, so we wiggled it around a little. Styrofoam will fly and stick to everything because of static electricity and science. The vacuum will keep you from going crazy trying to clean up. The hot cutter will be cleaner and might not need the vacuum. If the edge is rough, that’s okay. You’ll cover it with candy.

 

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Look! Barbie has a very couture minimalist wedding dress now. It’s a statement about the wedding industrial complex. She’s writing her thesis on it.


5. Take Barbie out and grab your cardstock. This is going to be a guide for the slope of your dress curve. Draw on the cardboard approximately what you want your curve to look like. Cut on the inside of the curve. This will give you your guide. You can see it below in the action shot of us cutting down the foam.

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6. Take your bread knife or foam cutting knife and start shaving chunks away. Use the guide and check your progress, by holding it up to your cake. This will help you keep a consistent curve. Otherwise her dress might be weird and lumpy. Again, being exact isn’t 100% necessary because you are covering it with candy. I made a gif of that cutting action for you.

Another note: for the love of all candy, please be careful cutting and drilling and gluing this all together. There are so many exciting ways you can hurt yourself working on this. Take your time and be cautious. I will say it is most likely you’ll burn yourself with the hot glue gun. I’ve done it myself. Careful. Please. Thank you.

7. After cutting away the sides, do a height check. We found that Barbie’s hips were at about 7.5” so we cut a final half inch slice off the bottom.

Ooo dang it’s looking like a dress now!

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8. Now we assess our candy situation and think about how to design our dress. I completely just make up a dress. I use bigger candy as poofs and try to make layers. The nice thing about the hot glue is if it sucks, you can rip it off and start over. So play around. I like to use the rope Laffy Taffy to define my poofs. The two tone thing (like the purple Barbie) takes more design savvy to pull off, but I think it looks really cool.

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When looking at coverage, I’ll sometimes lay out my candy so I can see how I’m doing. You want to make the front and sides as symmetrical as you can. It looks crummy if it isn’t. The back is the back, so it’s kind of fair game to kind of have it a little messy. But for the front and sides? Yeah. Matchy matchy. It also helps, I think, to establish a pattern.

9. Start slapping glue on there. Apply some, not a lot, of glue to your candy. Press it to the foam and hold for maybe 5 seconds.

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Sometimes you end up with weird little holes peaking out inbetween your candy. My recommendation is to take some of that tissue paper and dab a little glue on it. Use a lollipop stick to poke it inbetween you candy to cover up the styrofoam. Honestly, you’ll see the gaps and no one else will, but this is a cheap and easy fix. You could also use small candy like the Jolly Rancher. My finished dress also has zots turned on their sides glued in. I think it make it look like little bow/tufts on the side.

10. Once you’ve filled in all your gaps, your dress is complete! Give it a once over and see if anything is loose. A little extra gluing won’t hurt, especially if it needs to travel somewhere else. Once this is done, take the cake round, hot glue the tissue paper to it, and glue it to the bottom of the dress, tissue paper color side up. Make sure you leave the center 2″ free of glue so Barbie’s shoes don’t get glued down. This is your base.

That’s it! At this point, you have a finished Barbie cake! Ta da! You did it!

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Once the candy is devoured, Barbie can be slipped out and played with separately and the cake (if not too beat up) might live to be another dress. Play around, see what kind of color patterns you like and most importantly – HAVE BACKUP CANDY. You might get hungry while you work. It’s part of the design process. Happy crafting!