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The Globe and Mail

In pictures: How to perfectly paint pumpkins

The old triangle-eyed jack-o’-lantern has its charm, but painted pumpkins create a classier front porch display. A graphic pattern, such as chevron stripes, is striking on its own, or amongst a grouping of pumpkins. It’ll look beautiful on your stoop all month long and you can still carve another gourd for the kids come Halloween. When picking your pumpkin, choose one that’s a nice round shape, without cuts or soft spots and check that it’s flat enough on the bottom to sit upright. A pumpkin with smooth flesh, free of deep ridges or little bumps, will also be easier to paint. When you get your pumpkin home, remove any dirt with a damp rag and allow it to air dry before you start. Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area (outside is ideal) and place newspapers down on a flat surface to create your workspace.

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Start at the widest point of your pumpkin, on its good side. (If the two ends of each row don’t meet up perfectly, they’ll be hidden at the back.) Measure and precut 3-inch strips of tape to create your first line of chevrons. Apply the first piece on a 45-degree angle. Place the next piece of tape at a right angle, slightly overlapping the top of the first piece. Run your fingernail around the edges of each piece of tape as you go along, smoothing them down to prevent the paint from bleeding underneath. Continue all the way around to make your zigzag pattern. Leave a space roughly the width of the tape, and then begin the next row. As your pumpkin tapers at the top and bottom, overlap your tape more, as needed, for smaller chevrons. Cover the stem and surrounding area, too.

Barry Fraser/The Globe and Mail

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Apply the white paint in short, even strokes. Allow it to dry (about 30 minutes) before applying a second coat. You may need a light third coat to touch-up any spots where you can still see orange peeking through.

Barry Fraser/The Globe and Mails

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When the paint is almost dry, but still tacky, carefully remove the tape, pulling it away very slowly one strip at a time. Run your knife along any edges where the paint doesn’t separate cleanly. When the pumpkin is completely dry, spray it all over with a clear topcoat to set the paint. This should also help to slow rot and keep your gourd looking gorgeous for several weeks. (If you’re creating an arrangement with other pumpkins, give them a topcoat, too.) Let dry for 24 hours before putting on display.

Barry Fraser/The Globe and Mail

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