Gilded gourds(Photo: Yunhee Kim\Redbook)

To give pumpkins and gourds majestic flair that will last the season (dried gourds will last even longer), try gilding them--a simple technique that isn't just for frames, mirrors and palaces.

First, cut a four-inch hole in the bottom of each pumpkin, scoop out the pulp, and reserve the seeds for making tasty treats. (You can skip these initial steps if using dried gourds, like we did.) Wash the outer shell with a multipurpose cleaner and a soft cloth to remove dirt and oils. Dry the surface completely, then draw the desired design on the shell with a pencil. (We wanted these to look as if they'd been dunked in gold and silver leaf.)

Using the Country Living Artisans Collection paint kit, developed by Carol Kemery ($34 to $40; caromalcolours.com), liberally spread an even layer of the basecoat on the pumpkin. Let it air-dry about two hours — or speed the process with a hair dryer on low.

Next, cover the basecoat with a healthy layer of Sticky Size (included in the kit), a gluelike substance that will hold the gold and silver leaf in place. Let it dry to tackiness (about 20 minutes). To test, touch your knuckle to the glue; if you hear a popping sound when you pull away, it's ready.

Place the sheets of metallic leaf on the Sticky Size, overlapping slightly to completely cover the sticky surface. Use a soft cloth to wipe away any excess pieces of leaf.

Paint on the toner, which gives the shiny metallic leaf a beautiful aged patina. You can let it drip, leave a lot on, or wipe most of it off — there's really no way to get a "wrong" result. Let it dry for at least an hour.

To give the pumpkins and gourds a hint of sheen, rub Liberon Black Bison Wax (about $20; not included in the kit) in a thin layer all over the surface using a soft cloth. Turn the cloth over, remove the wax, and buff the shell to the desired sheen.