By Melissa Wynn

I am always amazed by the artistic crafts that people with creative minds bring into being. This time of year, the farmers markets and fruit stands are brimming with the late harvest of pumpkins, squash and gourds and the crafters go wild. Since these gifts from the garden come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and colors, the project ideas are literally endless. From carving a simple toothy jack-o-lantern to creating a full barnyard of critters to inhabit your front lawn, it can all be brought to life with your fall harvest favorites.

Pumpkin carving has come a long way. These days carvings go far beyond the traditional eyes, nose and mouth of the Halloween jack-o-lantern. Those with an eye for such things now carve in layers, creating 3-D images, animals and even whole dioramas inside of their chosen gourd. The internet is full of patterns and ideas for those wishing to try their hand at this growing artsy trend. From simple designs to complex scenes, you are sure to find something for every skill level in your group.

Dried gourds are crafted into all sorts of useful and decorative items including lamps, canisters, sugar bowls and jewelry boxes. Since they don’t rot after drying, gourd art pieces can be saved and used for years to come. Whether you make a centerpiece for a holiday table or a birdhouse to hang outdoors the dried gourd is a very forgiving and durable medium.

Paint can transform fresh or dried produce into almost anything you can imagine. Paint a face then accessorize with hats, wigs, headphones or scarves to create witches, rock stars or even mutant turtles from an old cartoon favorite. Stack your gourds to create a body for your creation and paint on the desired costume, dress or cape. Stencils, lace and stickers can add texture and depth to your design as well.

Paper, metal, thumb tacks and old jewelry can be added by gluing, taping or simply poking them in place to bring your masterpiece to life. Decoupage, embroidery and even crochet can mix with the fall harvest to create fall decor that is one hundred percent unique to the creator and their vision.

What does fall look like in your home and garden this year? Dream on it. Visit your local farmer’s market or roadside stand and see what sprouted this year that fits your vision, then go for it. Let your imagine run wild, your inner artist will figure out the rest.

We would love to see what fabulous items you create. Share your fall harvest craft and photos with us on Facebook or email them to [email protected].