DIY marquee pumpkins


lets kick off this Halloween season with the coolest DIY pumpkin project EVER! you should know that i am a Halloween lover… i don’t love the blood and gore stuff. i HATE scary movies. you will NEVER catch me going to a haunted house or anything creepy like that… but i am ALL about fun costumes, costume parties and candy! yes to all of that! and yes to the fun, festive decorations! i like to keep my décor pretty light, and when i say “light” i mean LIGHT! and that is what this DIY Marquee Pumpkin project is all about!


so this all started as i was brainstorming about new products with my team, and i kept thinking to myself, “how do we combine pumpkins and Marquee Lights?”. it was literally that afternoon that i saw this year’s Better Homes and Gardens magazine on the newsstand, and low and behold… there on the front cover was the cutest Marquee pumpkin using my Marquee Light kits! i was SO excited, and the wheels really started spinning.


i wanted to simplify the whole process and depart from a stencil, or tracing or vinyl cutting etc. etc… and i landed on the idea of adding a “tattoo” style transfer to the pumpkin, and then adding lights! i wasn’t sure if it would work, but i contacted my friends at Silhouette America and they hooked me up with some of their tattoo paper to play around with, then drove straight to Michaels where i found their styrofoam pumpkins at 50% off and i bought a variety of black, white and orange in a couple sizes.


i was a woman on a mission!
i consulted my tool expert (Eric) when i got home – and he got out his drill with a 5/16” drill bit which matches the Heidi Swapp Marquee Bulbs. he also pulled out something that I didn’t know we had: a HOT knife. this is basically a soldering gun with a exacto-type blade on it. it’s ideal for working with these styrofoam pumpkins (it even mentioned them in the instructions).


before i could get started i needed to print my art onto the tattoo paper. i printed some with my laser printer, and some with my inkjet. both worked. the most important thing is 1. printing on the glossy side of the paper and 2. flipping (mirroring) your art so it’s right when you transfer it. the material is 8 1/2x 11 so fits in your printer perfectly. you can arrange and align the art to maximize your sheet. each package comes with 2 sheets of printable paper and 2 sheets of adhesive transfer material. the Silhouette version of this paper is designed to work with their print and cut feature for their cutting tool, however i just used scissors to cut my art out.


Here’s the process:

1. set up your art

2. mirror your art so that it prints backwards onto the glossy side of the sheet

3. remove the adhesive sheet from it’s backer and carefully place it over the entire sheet over the printed art. i found it was best to hold the two edges of the adhesive sheet and allow the center to stag down; touch that center down on the printed sheet, and slowly lower the sheet on top of the art. this was easily the trickiest part of the process; after i messed it up once, i was good to go.

4. burnish the adhesive sheet completely over the art to get rid of any air bubbles and ensure solid adhesion.

5. cut out design (this is also the point that you can put the sheet into the cutter and align the ‘print and cut’ feature.


6. now you are ready to add the tattoo to the surface of the pumpkin. this is a challenge because of course a pumpkin is not nice and flat. so i started on one side and worked my way to the other, pressing and transferring the images down into the grooves. as the backer becomes wet, it definitely becomes malleable enough to transfer across the bumps. this is done with a wet cloth, and takes a matter of seconds. once the backer sheet has absorbed the water, it’s ready to be removed. then i use the wet rag to blot and press to further commit the image transfer. allow it to air dry for a few moments.


adding the lights is actually easier than you might think! i used a DRILL… now before you check out, i will confess that i am not really a ‘power tool’ girl. i pretty much leave that to my husband, who i wrangle into any of my projects that start involving garage tools! he took a look at the bulbs, and found a matching bit – it required a 5/16” inch drill bit. it was VERY easy to drill the holes for the bulbs. i marked where i wanted the bulbs to be with a sharpie, and it only took a few minutes to get all my holes drilled.


i was a little nervous about cutting a hole in the pumpkin for adding the lights. i really wanted the hole in the bottom of the pumpkin so i didn’t have to keep track of the top piece after i cut it out – like you would a traditional jack-o-lantern. i started out by using an exacto type knife, and while Eric was watching me, he suggested that I try his “hot knife”. He went out into the garage and came back a couple moments later with a tool that looks like a soldering iron, but with a bunch of different tips and attachments. the hot knife cut through the pumpkin like butter! it was amazing. that allowed me to create a very clean cut in the bottom of each pumpkin large enough for me to get my hands in there to insert the light strands into the bulbs!


here’s what you will need to do the entire project:


Craft pumpkin

Tattoo paper (computer & printer)

Heidi Swapp marquee light strands & bulbs

Drill with 5/16” drill bit

Hot knife or exact-o knife


freebie art file!  (be sure to print your art backwards so that it will transfer forward) you can go ahead and make this cutie black cat into a glowing pumpkin!! and in case you can’t read backwards… it says “happy haunting”



Here’s the link to the segment that i filmed on Studio 5

have FUN lighting up your Marquee pumpkin! oh, and PS… here you can grab one of my new Halloween t-shirts from – you can only buy one between now and Oct 3rd, so don’t miss out!!



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