Spooky Clay – How to Make a Clay Pumpkin

Make a Ceramic Jack-o-lantern in This Easy Clay Project

We love Halloween here at Ceramic Arts Daily, and for today’s post, we wanted to have a little fun. So we called on our friend Lisa Bare Culp (who is always a hoot) and she delivered with this great clay project for kids (of all ages)! In this fun, festive (and spooky) video, Lisa shows us how to make a ceramic pumpkin.

We are also kicking off our SCARY SAVINGS sale today! So have a look and then head on over to the bookstore for a treat with the promo code BOO2016 (Code valid: October 27 – November 1, 2016). Happy Halloween everybody!

– Jennifer Harnetty, editor



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Lisa Bare Culp is a ceramic artist, instructor, and the owner of Bareclay Studio (www.bareclay.com; https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bareclay) for more than 20 years. 


**First published in October 2011
  • Carmillia K.

    I loved the video! I found that making a pinch pot is the most difficult clay project for my adults students! I think we will be doing small spheres from now on. Thank you

  • Ballard A.

    The silliness of clay is my attraction. You can just get down and jiggy withit. No rules that’s the beauty

  • Awesome! Cute pumpkin and love the sound effects! Looks and sounds like you have lots of fun making these! Great job!

  • I am a beginner clay student and I really enjoy watching your video! It’s easy to follow and humorous! I cant wait to show it to my student when I am an art teacher! Keep making great videos!

  • David D.

    Great idea! No matter what I prepare for the class, around Halloween the kids will be making pumpkins anyway. They will love it and it will be a snap to prepare the class for it. There was a video for putting together elephants that they liked a lot too. Keep’em coming.

  • Susan B.

    Agreed with AM, I too have no problem selling mine at $15-$20, my customers scooped them up! I also make them with no faces cut the top off put in a notch and make it a sugar pot for Thanksgiving time.They too sell great! As for the dollar store comment, not nice!

  • Paula M.

    Very cute. Nice technique. Should practice face carving on real pumpkins to get more interesting expressions.

  • Ooooooooo, I can see this technique to make ornaments for outdoor large pine trees. They can take the weight of the clay better.

  • You are a great instructor. You gave only key tips(slap on table, show how to fix, pat in hand to curve, use sponge to smooth features) and demonstrated and told why. Great job.

    Using the shpere is a great project to introduce folks to clay because your first pinch pot never matches the images in your mind that motivated you to learn about clay. (I still remember feeling embarrased and unbelievably clumsy.) This way, the individual can make “ugly” and roll to fix and see why sealed seams are important and what a carefully selected detail can do. You learn to add clay to the piece. And the end result has a 98% chance of ending sucessful enough to match your aspirations. Babs

  • Helena G.

    It’s always fun making themed pieces…. Love it! So cute and great doing it with the kids. I did go one step further and painted glow in the dark on the eyes and mouth. Boo!

  • Kathleen K.

    Just returned 88 terra cotta pumpkins to my 2nd graders today. I’ve found some ways to stream line this for little kids. We only use one pinch pot to turn over and pinch the stem from what was the bottom of the bowl. They make the faces by poking a bamboo skewer or toothpicks to create the eyes and nose. Wiggling the skewer can create triangles or other shapes and the mouth only needs to be a line that’s gently pulled open. They add a touch of green underglaze or even glaze to the stem while it’s wet clay and I only hve to fire them once. They work nicely over those battery operated tea lights and look good with my larger thrown and altered hollow form pumpkins. Now to carve up my real ones for tonight!
    PS I loved the idea for flatten the edges on the table to help fit the halves together! I’ll use this with my rattles. thanks for a cute video!

  • Fun fun fun! I make these, and also ghosties, every year in mid-September. My technique is a bit different but similar result. I leave the bottom open and mine sit over a tea light. Also, for the effect it has when its light shines on the wall behind it, I cut a different image into the backside (spiders, stars, cats). While you CAN get a made in china thing at dollar stores, my customers seem happy to pay $15 to $20 for mine. Dollar store? Now that’s scary!! Thanks, CAD!

  • that’s nice surprise to see this video as I made a pumpkin last sunday with almost same technique, except facials… my friend kept telling me that it looked like a bell pepper rather than a pumpkin though lol…

  • Mary Jo B.

    That was clever and spoo-oo-ky giving the little guy personality. The dollar stor guy just doesn’t VALUE handmade! MJ

  • Elsie S.

    That was great! I think it wouldn’t matter that it was still unfired – the kids could have fun altering the expression ( with sound effects!) – more scary? Thanks a lot!

  • Karen J.

    I loved it! Well done demo and such a cute idea. I wish I had seen it earlier—before Halloween day that is.
    Any more cute ideas like that that you can share for Christmas—-hopefully before the day?
    Thanks for all the great demos!

  • you guys are nice, thanks….(well, maybe not dollar-store-guy) but to the rest of you, THANKS! we were laughing the whole time we made the video.
    oh yea, i know this is an obvious one but if you do solid (non jack-o-lantern) pumpkins, put a little hole in it. otherwise it will blow up.
    have fun, all….LBC

  • Clara E.

    that was too cute. I love Lisa’s warmness, playfulness and silliness. My six year old would get a kick out of the mouth being sponged.

    thank you
    Clara Emma

  • Catherine W.

    Lisa is wonderful!
    I was throwing hollow forms, which is a lot more work, so Lisa is a breath of fresh air. Remember, potters: These would make great placards at the Thanksgiving table — just don’t cut a face in them.
    Thanks for all you do CAD.

  • That was a terrific video and project! There are lots of directions you can go with the hollow sphere so it’s useful all year long. Thanks!

  • LOL Man, it’s so weird to see Lisa on here. You guys were having too much fun! Thanks for sharing the video!

  • Love Lisa’s attitude – left me with a big grin. Years ago I made a plaster cast of a pumpkin, then ate it (the pumpkin that is!) I slipcast a very realistic pumpkin and carved out the scary face and when only leather hard took it to a rather wild Halloween party and brought it home still in one piece at 3 a.m. Years later I fired it and still more years went by before I glazed it. I will be teaching kids soon and will keep this project in mind for next year. Thanks a mil!

  • Jharnetty@ceramics.org H.

    Beth: Yes, I thought about that, but unfortunately it just couldn’t come together any sooner. I still thought it was too fun not to share! Just try to think of how far ahead you’ll be next year!

    All best,
    Jennifer Harnetty

  • This was an amazing demonstration and project but do you realize that you published it ON Halloween??

    Perhaps sooner next time, it is clay after all.

    That said, The demo was great. I am so happy to see I am not the only one who talks to their little monsters as they are making them!!
    Having fun is half the battle….

  • [email protected] [.

    VERY creative video Lisa did a great job. Thoroughly enjoyed it, Thanks! Great hand building practice. I might cut the top and lid it so you can put a tea light in it.

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