People Are Turning Their Pumpkins Into Chinoiserie Pieces of Art

I love holidays – the dinners, the desserts, the celebrations, the decorations! Halloween and Thanksgiving are both right around the corner, and that means it’s time to go out in search of the ‘perfect’ pumpkin to carve, decorate or otherwise use in a decorative display. Don’t get me wrong, I love to carve pumpkins (for some reason it’s like the epitome of country-living, to sit on the floor in your kitchen covered in pumpkin “guts”) but I’ve been doing it for so long I started looking for alternative ways to utilize pumpkins for displays. Did you know People Are Turning Their Pumpkins Into Chinoiserie Pieces of Art? Neither did I. But it’s a real thing and it’s pretty neat.

Chinoiserie is a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century. It is a form of art that reflects Chinese artistic influences and is characterized by fanciful imagery of an ‘imaginary China’ by asymmetry in format and whimsical contrasts of scale and by attempts to imitate Chinese porcelain. It first entered the European repertory in the mid-to-late 17th century through the work of Athanasius Kircher who was influenced by orientalism. The popularity of Chinoiserie peaked around the mid-18th century and then declined when it appeared to be the antithesis of neoclassicism. Essentially, from the Renaissance to the 18th century, Western designers attempted to imitate the technique and sophistication of Chinese ceramics (but only with partial success). The blue and white decorations are related to the Ming, the dynasty which ruled China from 1368 to 1644. In fact, the period was renowned for ceramics and porcelains, hence the uptake in Chinoiserie popularity (at the time, only about 16% of Ming era Chinese ceramic exports were being sent to Europe and only to the truly wealthy).

Micaela English, writing for website “CountryLiving” shares some of the precious Chinoiserie-pumpkin artwork that has been popping up recently and lists a number of websites where one can either buy a fancy, painted pumpkin or find DIY instructions on how to create your very own.

Two possibilities for creating your own “country living” Chinoiserie pumpkins are to paint them or decoupage them. Decoupage is the art of decorating an object by gluing colored paper cutouts onto it in combination with special paint effects. Commonly an item like a small box is covered by cutouts from magazines. Afterwards, each layer is sealed with varnishes until the “stuck on” appearance disappears and the result looks like a painting or inlay work.

But why restrict yourself to just Chinoiserie pieces of art when the sky is the limit? If you choose to try your hand at decoupage, why not try various patterns? You could have Halloween-inspired prints, Thanks-giving-inspired prints and even… Christmas-inspired prints! (Is that taking it a little too far? Maybe…) Similarly with painting. While the Chinoiserie is beautiful and unique to every single pumpkin, so too would be other painting styles. If you’ve never considered decorating a pumpkin in this way, perhaps 2015 is the year to give it a try!


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