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Pumpkin Carving Ideas

October 1st, 2014 Posted in Family Health & Safety

Pumpkin Carving Idea:
Message Pumpkin

A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but a few words can have major impact. Use this pumpkin carving idea to carve a message on your pumpkin. Southern Living Associate Garden Editor Rebecca Bull Reed created this work of art and added the wise words “Spooky is what you think you see.” What do you see?


Expressive Pumpkin

Keep the designs simple, especially when you’re working with children. A crescent moon and a star make expressive eyes. A triangle nose is classic. Tip: Cut the opening in the top at a 45-degree angle so it will have something to rest on. Do not cut straight down, because the lid will fall into the gutted pumpkin.


Masterpiece Pumpkin

You don’t have to stick with traditional holiday images. Create a masterpiece based on something a little more highbrow. A rendition of The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh elevates this pumpkin to museum quality. Create a design like this by scraping away the pumpkin’s outer shell rather than cutting a hole through it. The pumpkin wall should be about 1 inch thick to allow light to shine through.


Create a Silhouette

The black cat is a classic Halloween image, and the rounded opening has the look of a glowing moon behind this fierce feline. Tape a stencil to your pumpkin, and use the tip of a nail or ice pick to poke small holes along the lines of the design. Remove the stencil, and use a sharp knife to cut between the holes.


Stacked Pumpkins

Why should your jack-o’-lantern always be deprived of a body? Stack two pumpkins to give your display more presence. Carve the body to look like a shirt, and give Jack a spiky hairdo.


Polynesian Pumpkin

Add some Polynesian flair to your Halloween gathering. Create a tiki design by scraping away the pumpkin’s outer flesh. Props increase the fun factor. Look for oversize paper umbrellas and drinking straws at a party-supply store.


Friendly Pumpkin Faces

Give trick-or-treaters a warm welcome with a family of friendly pumpkin people. Purchase pumpkins in graduated sizes that will stack easily. Look for ones with large, unbroken stems and unique markings. Get creative, and carve faces in the smallest pumpkins that will make your guests grin. Try using the stem as a nose, or bring out the paints, and let kids make their mark on the project.

To assemble your pumpkin person, stack three pumpkins and insert a long wooden dowel down the center. Dress your pumpkin people in the season’s best apparel. Raffia scarves, dried lotus pod buttons, twig arms, and flower hats are all great ways to complete this creative look.


Glowing Pumpkin

Give a jack-o’-lantern extra glow with some vegetable oil or petroleum jelly. Apply a small amount to the outer skin with a paper towel after you have finished carving.


Pumpkin Wreath

Pick up mini pumpkins from the grocery store, and put them to good use. With these simple steps, it’s easy to do.

Step-by-Step Directions


South Carolina Pumpkin

Let your home state inspire you. This pumpkin celebrates South Carolina by copying the palmetto tree and crescent moon seen on the state flag. You could also do the team logo of your alma mater or an outline of your state.


Postcard-Worthy Pumpkin

Have you been somewhere cool lately or just wish you could get away? Carve a postcard-­worthy icon such as Notre-Dame Cathedral into your pumpkin.


Illuminating Fall Leaf Pumpkin

To create our illuminating pumpkin, first, download and print one of our leaf templates listed below. Cut the bottom off a pumpkin, and remove the seeds and pulp. Place the leaf template in your desired spot, pin in place, and then trace the design onto the pumpkin with a pencil. Using a pumpkin-carving tool, cut out the traced leaf design. Cut pieces of yellow vellum, and pin them to the inside of the pumpkin over the leaf openings. Add a battery-operated candle. To make the display even more illuminated, learn how to make our luminary.


Petite Pumpkins

Regardless of your age, you’ll have a ball carving these irresistibly adorable ‘Wee-B-Little’ pumpkins. Try these tips when working with pint-sized pumpkins.

Step-by-Step Directions


Pumpkin Cooler

For a hit at your next party, trade fire for ice as your pumpkin filling of choice. Cut the top from a large, wide pumpkin with a serrated knife, and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Line the bottom and sides of the pumpkin with a 2-gallon zip-top plastic bag. Fill the bag with ice and assorted beverages.

Step-by-Step Video


Luminary Pumpkins

Get the entire street involved. Pumpkins lined up along walkways and sidewalks will make your block the most popular trick-or-treating destination in the neighborhood.


Fishy Pumpkin

Tuck a fishbowl into a gutted pumpkin, and fill with bottled drinking water (not tap water from the faucet, distilled, or deionized water). Find creative props at the pet store. This tiny gravestone is perfect. Paint smaller pumpkins black, and stack them up to create a cat. Scrape away flesh to create eyes, and use discarded pieces of the orange pumpkin to make ears. Your fish friends will be purr-fectly frightened.

Note: Replace about 20%of the water in your fishbowl with fresh bottled drinking water twice a week. As a bonus, the discarded water is great for plants. Avoid placing the bowl in direct sunlight, and move it indoors if the temperature dips below 65°.


Pretty Pumpkin

It’s okay if you’re a scaredy-cat?carve something pretty. Light your pumpkin with a scented votive to make it even sweeter. (Never leave lit candles unattended.) Cutting thin lines can be a little tricky; sometimes the line breaks.


Hairy Pumpkin

Turn your pumpkin on its side. The stem makes a wonderful nose. All you have to do is cut out eyes and a mouth. If the pumpkin is a little too wobbly on its side, cut out some flesh to flatten it. Spaghetti noodles dipped halfway in boiling water for a few seconds make great hair. Stick the uncooked portion into small holes cut in the head.


Pumpkin Topiary

Create a new twist on tradition with a pumpkin topiary on your porch.

Step-by-Step Directions


No Evil Pumpkins

Something evil this way comes? Do as the monkeys would, and see no evil, speak no evil, and hear no evil. Simple garden gloves elevate three jack-o’-lanterns from typical to terrific.


Star Pumpkin

As with any project, success starts with good prep work. Begin at the pumpkin patch. Choose a pumpkin with a steady base and an intact stem. Tip: Do not pick up the pumpkin by the stem because it might break off. Look for a firm pumpkin with no mold. Take care that the pumpkin is large enough to give you room for carving your design.


Haunted Castle Pumpkin

Whether you’re carving a haunted castle or a creepy ghost, make sure you have the right tools for the job. There are pumpkin-­carving kits on the market, but you probably already have the essentials in your kitchen. You’ll need a long knife with a thin blade for cutting the lid and large shapes. Be certain it is sharp. For details, use a small, sharp craft knife. Scoop out the pumpkin with an ice-cream scoop.


Spooky Ghost Pumpkin

Don’t be afraid to draw directly on your pumpkin. Sketch out a design freehand, or use a template. There are plenty of illustrations online that you can print out too (Pumpkin Templates). Tape the pattern to the pumpkin, and trace it. Press hard enough to leave an impression on the flesh, and follow the lines for cutting.


Spider Web Pumpkin

To purchase a carving kit online, visit www.xacto.com. Click on “Products” and then “Cutting Tools.” The variety of blades in the standard woodcarving set will make you a master carver.


Skeleton Pumpkin

This guy looks as if he could use a good meal. If your pumpkin begins to look lifeless, revive it with a little TLC. Soak a dried-up pumpkin in a bucket of water for two to eight hours.


Cookie-Cutter Pumpkins

These cookie-cutter pumpkins are anything but run-of-the-mill. They take no time to make and will add a gorgeous glow to your porch or walk. Start by selecting a theme, such as leaves, ghosts, or spiders. Because pumpkins are pretty tough cookies, look for durable cutters made of thick stainless steel (www.cookiecutter.com). Smaller ones work best, as larger designs tend to lose their shape more easily. Preparing the pumpkins is easy as pie. Cut a hole in the bottom instead of the top, and clean out the insides.

Place a cookie cutter on the pumpkin. Gently tap the cutter with a rubber mallet until it pushes through the skin. Repeat until you complete your desired design. Then simply place each pumpkin over a small candle, and enjoy the ghoulish glow.


Tiger Eyes Pumpkin

The eyes have it. You don’t need anything more than a pair of eyes to give visitors the willies.


Scary Spider Pumpkin

Why not carve your design on the top of the pumpkin instead of the side? Scoop out the insides from the bottom of the pumpkin.


Diorama Pumpkin

Create a diorama effect. Cut out a large square from the front of your pumpkin. Use that piece to carve a small figure. Use toothpicks to reattach the figure to the side and bottom of the pumpkin.


Etched Pumpkin

Etching will leave an artful design on your pumpkin. The technique allows your pumpkin to last longer and is less messy than traditional carving. Try one of the templates from our October 2010 cover.


Pumpkin Carving Templates

Creating designs on your pumpkins, like the ones shown here, is easier than you think. Kits are available everywhere–from dollar stores to high-end kitchen shops–but you really don’t need a kit. Assemble your own with basic kitchen tools such as a sharp knife, a smaller paring knife, and wide, sturdy spoons to clean out the seeds and stringy pulp. A small handsaw is also helpful.

Download Templates


Keep it Simple

If you love the look of hurricanes lining a front path, put an autumn spin on them by using oversize heirloom pumpkins in various shades of orange and green as bases—perfect for welcoming guests to a fall-themed party.

How To Make It:
Simple Pumpkin Hurricanes


Carve a Pattern

Turn standard grocery store pumpkins into decorative votive holders that are embellished with polka-dot cutouts.

How To Make It:
Decorative Pumpkin Votive Holders

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