Jack O’Lantern Candle Holder

  • Things you probably have at home:
    • Flour
    • Salt
    • Vegetable Oil
    • Water
    • Large mixing bowl
    • Measuring cups + spoons
    • Rolling pin or hard plastic cup
    • Plastic knife

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Ideal Age Range:

5+ will be able to make most of this with a little help. This can be adapted for younger children, who can participate in making the clay and helping to shape most parts.

Mess Factor:

Medium. The dough cleans up easily but paint can always get a little messy.

Prep Time:

20 – 30 minutes + baking time.

Finished Jack O’Lantern before painting

This is a great project because it can be done in two phases – two days of craft projects! Smaller and older children can be part of the process of making the dough. Older children will be able to work on crafting their own candle holder, while younger ones will need much more help.

Once the clay is baked and cool – plan on this being another day for your sanity – you can paint!

This is fun for all kids because once it is finished it because a display piece that they can be proud of. It is something that you can keep with your decorations and bring out from year to year (tip – try to etch their name and year on the bottom of the base or write it with permanent marker to help you remember!).

If you need help adapting the project for a differently-abled child, please reach out in the comments below!

Active Instructions:

CLAY RECIPE: This is enough to create two 3” diameter pumpkins as pictured – cut the recipe in half for younger, smaller hands (left over clay can be sealed in a plastic baggie – it will remain soft for quite a while to be used for future projects)

  • 1 CUP SALT
  1. Combine clay recipe ingredients in a large mixing bowl – USE YOUR HANDS TO MIX THE INGREDIENTS – great fun and it builds hand muscles!
    • TIP: additional water may be required but add a little at a time until you have a  soft ball of clay (too much water will create a sticky mess!)
  2. Take a third of the clay and roll into a ball to create the pumpkin.
Step 1 – mix the clay by hand

Step 2 – roll 1/3 of the clay into a ball

  1. Patty cake the ball like making a hamburger patty – not too thin! (smaller hands can put on a flat surface and smack with their open hands or fist. Use a rolling pin or heavy plastic cup to smooth the surface.
    • You want the finished circle to be about 1/4″ thick.
  2. Use a round cookie cutter or the plastic cup to cut the circle shape.
Step 3 – smooth out the dough with a rolling pin or cup

Step 4 – cut out the circle shape

  1. Place shape onto a flat surface and begin to cut the eyes and mouth using a plastic knife
    • You may be able to find small shape cutters in a craft store or even the closed tip of a marker
    • Assistance will be needed to cut into the clay – it does not need to be perfect – JUST FUN!
  2. Use additional pieces of clay to create teeth and the pumpkin stem – (you can even create a hat or hair!) Shape and smooth each piece onto the surface. (Use a wet finger to smooth out the clay surface and rough edges.
Step 5 – cut out your face!

Step 6 – bring your Jack O’Lantern face to life – smooth out edges with water

Stop at Step #7 to create a Jack O’Lantern that you can hang up.

  1. You can stop here if you want to use as a hanging decoration – just place a hole in the stem to attach a piece of twine.

Continue through the rest of the steps if you want to make a free-standing candle holder:

  1. Use another piece of the clay to create any flat organic shape  – make sure it is thick enough to create a divot to hold the pumpkin. You can add texture to the stand using the knife or a fork (so it looks like grass).
  2.  Using one finger, push into the clay to create a divot that will allow the pumpkin to stand on its own
    • You have to guesstimate a little with the divot, as you have to wait to bake it before trying to see if it works! If you have any issues, you can glue the pumpkin into the stand AFTER BAKING if it does not stand on its own.
Create a divot in the base

Add texture to the base to look like grass

  1. BAKE ON A FLAT SURFACE AT 250 DEGREES FOR AT LEAST AN HOUR – clay will get hard (although thicker pieces may not totally bake thru which is OK).
    • You can use any paint that you may have, we’ve used acrylic gloss paint.
    • (Optional) Use a spray with a gloss polyurethane spray for a glossy finish! (This should always be done by an adult outside.)
Finished candle holder

Reminder: save whatever dough you have leftover in a plastic bag for future projects!

We want to see your pumpkins!! Tag us @givethekidssomethingtodo.
If you want to pin this project, please use the image below.

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