DIY Car Track Pumpkin Lantern

I promised myself I wasn't going to make this. It's cute don't get me wrong but I'd much rather just run over to Marshalls and buy a real lantern. With so many people on the internet giving it a try... I did and for $2 I'm going to give you the good, bad, and the ugly of making this very popular project. 

car track lantern supplies

First I collected the things I needed from the Dollar Tree. 

A set of car tracks and a box sign. 

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As you scroll through this tutorial please visit the bold blue links for more Homeroad information and the products I used for this project. 

Don't worry what the sign says... you're going to paint it. 

I also needed chalky paint, I'm using Fusion Mineral Paint in Tuscan Orange because I wanted my lantern to look like a pumpkin. 

car track arched in box sign

The first thing is to lay the car tracks into the corners of the box frame forming an arch. 

car track arched lantern

Do not cut the tracks if you bought them at the dollar store, the size was great. 

Use hot glue to secure them into the corners of the box sign, you could also use Krazy Glue Gel which might even work better. 

Make sure your box sign is not too small because it will cause the car tracks to buckle when they are arched too tightly. 

And here is where I ran into my first problem... when I used hot glue, the glue showed in the corners of the box! 

Next time I will try to glue the tracks into the corners from the bottom of the track not the sides. 

Now it was time to paint. 

orange painted car tracks

The Fusion Mineral Paint stuck to the track really well with no sanding or prep. 

If you use regular craft paint your paint will chip and or scratch. 

Also if you paint the tracks first, they will crack when you bend them. 

If I were to do this again, I would use a spray chalky paint because it would be much easier to get into all the crevices without any blobs of paint. 

You can see the blobs in the photo. ☹️

The paint shows every strand and blob of hot glue once it is painted which was a big problem. 

Once the lantern was painted I cut a piece of scrapbook paper with a wood design for the bottom of the lantern. 

painted car track lantern with wooden paper bottom

I added a real pumpkin stem, Spanish moss, and a faux fall leaf at the top of the tracks. 

pumpkin stem, leaf and spainish moss

The only thing left to do is to fill the pumpkin lantern with faux fall leaves and a battery powered flameless candle. 

lantern with leaves and a candle

It looks cute and it was totally a bargain but it was messy to make and I didn't love that the hot glue showed in the corners when it was finished. 

lantern with candle and leaves

If you're looking to make one of these pumpkin lanterns using dollar store items here is what I think...

Use spray chalky paint, be careful with the hot glue or try Krazy Glue, and watch out for paint blobs! 

Stay tuned because I do have another lantern idea!

All in all it is not too bad and it looks kinda cute on my outdoor table under the gazebo!

Pumpkin lantern with stem, leaves and battery candle

Thanks so much for visiting and before you go please sign up for the Homeroad emails so I can send my next DIY tutorial straight to you! 

pumpkin lantern on outdoor table

Fusion Mineral Paint provided me with the paint, all opinions are my own. 



I am Susan, the author and creator at Homeroad. I am a wife, mother of 4 daughters, and a grandmother of 5 and counting. I am a retired teacher, a DIY blogger and an artist at heart. .