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How to Carve a Pumpkin

How to Carve a Pumpkin

Nothing screams Halloween more than jack-o'-lanterns. Pumpkin carving is a fun Halloween activity enjoyed by children and adults alike, believed to have started in 19th century Ireland. Turnips or mangel-wurzel were hollowed out to act as lanterns, often carved with grotesque faces. Since then, we’ve taken this traditional activity to new heights with more challenging carved images and faces!

Method 1 Equipment:

  • Pumpkin
  • Large Serrated Knife
  • Large Metal Spoon
  • Bowl
  • Black Marker Pen
  • Small Serrated Knife
  • Tea Light Candle

Method 2 Equipment:

  • Pumpkin
  • Large Serrated Knife
  • Bowl
  • Large Metal Spoon
  • Scissors
  • Clear Tape
  • Wooden Skewer
  • Black Marker Pen
  • Set of Pumpkin Carving Knives
  • Non-Stick Cooking Spray
  • Towel

METHOD: Easy & Traditional Pumpkin Design

  1. Pick out a large pumpkin and cut the top off using a sharp, serrated knife, creating a lid.
  2. Take a large spoon and scoop out the flesh, seeds and fibres, and then transfer it to a separate bowl for later disposal or use in cooking.
  3. With a black marker pen, draw out your desired face – this can be as spooky or as friendly as you wish. Use a small serrated knife to cut out the features. Make sure you always carve away from you for safety.
  4. Pop a tea light inside the pumpkin, light the wick, and then replace the lid. Display it outside your home ready for the trick or treaters!

METHOD: Detailed Pumpkin Carving Using Photographs

  1. Use steps 1 and 2 from the method above, but thin out the sides of the pumpkin to half an inch in thickness. Pick any image or photograph on your PC you wish to recreate, preferably one with distinct light and dark areas on a close-up face.
  2. Open the original image with your editing software, crop it to a desired size, then convert to greyscale. Increase the contrast to get the basic shape in place. For instance, if your photo is of someone’s face, you’ll notice the eyes are now completely black.
  3. Print out the photo to suit the size of your pumpkin and cut the borders until you have the area you’d like to carve. Cut four to six notches around the paper to enable the design to lay as flat as possible on the pumpkin.
  4. Wash and dry the surface of the pumpkin to ensure a smooth, clean surface to work on, then secure your paper to the pumpkin using tape. Place the pumpkin on its base, then step back and check that it’s sitting where you want it before carving.
  5. Next, you need to transfer the design. Using a wooden skewer, poke a series of small holes around the outline of the image and over the main features. These holes should sit close together and go through the paper and into the flesh of the pumpkin.
  6. Once you’ve traced the whole image, remove the paper to reveal your work. At this stage, the image on the paper may look completely different to what’s on the pumpkin – but that’s right.
  7. Use a thin marker pen to fill in the details you’ve transferred, referring back to the design on the paper for help. Use a thicker marker to fill dark areas. The dark areas will be left uncarved, while the white areas will be completely carved and the greyscale areas will be partly carved to various degrees, creating shaded effects.
  8. Cut out any small holes first, such as eye details. Then, remove skin from the greyscale areas by following the lines. Lastly, remove the larger white areas and smooth out the sides.
  9. Finish up on detailed areas, like around the lips, eyes and ears. Work on your shading to really bring the design to life, concentrating on larger contours for a three dimensional feel.
  10. If you wish, you can coat the cut surfaces in oil, preferably a cooking spray, to preserve your carved design and prevent it from drying out.
  11. Set a tea light inside, light it up, and proudly display it outside your home to be the envy of all your neighbours this Halloween!
How To