1:36 pm / Oct 26 2018

Halloween Pumpkins

Halloween has always been my favourite season! The beautiful fall colours, the spooky decorations, the amazing costumes, and of course inspirational pumpkin carvings! I started carving “cool” pumpkins years ago when the typical jack-o-lanterns didn’t quite satisfy my creative desire. I found carving pattern books, tool sets and great ideas online that fueled the passion for something a little more unique. Here are a few tricks and tips I have learned:

  1. It all starts with GREAT tools. Get yourself a proper pumpkin carving knife. These can be found almost anywhere from the grocery store, craft store and Halloween stores. The key is how wide the blade is that allows for more detailed carvings.
  2. Next step is selecting the right size pumpkin. Go for the big ones! Make sure it has a decent side to create your carving masterpiece. and it still has a stem attached
  3. Cutting the lid first: start by cutting into the top of the pumpkin (more on this option later) at and angle about 2-3″ away from the stem. The angle keeps the lid on top of the pumpkin instead of falling inside. Before your carve a complete circle offset a small notch from where you start to where you end. This gives you a clear idea of how the lid fits when you put it back on.
  4. Cleaning out your pumpkin. This is the slimy part. Scoop and scrape out all the pulp and seeds,. Once the inside is clean determine which side your design is going on and continue to scrape away the inside wall of the pumpkin making it thinner and easier to carve details. This is the critical secret to great pumpkin designs. The wall should be approximately 1/2″ or 1cm thick for best results.
  5. Selecting your pattern: the internet is filled with spectacular designs  Click here:  For your first attempt keep the pattern a basic without enormous detail. Before you place your pattern cut out the parts that will be cut out of your pumpkin. I find using an Exacto-knife on a cutting matte makes this easier than using scissors. Once your pattern is prepared use straight pins to hold the pattern in place on your pumpkin. Because paper is flat and pumpkins have a curve you may find some spots that need to be tucked or folded to ease the design onto the surface. Use as many pins to keep the paper flat to the side of your pumpkin. This will keep your design transfer more accurate and easier to follow once your remove the paper before carving.
  6. Trace out the design using a permanent marker. Make sure you indicate which parts are to be cut out and parts that are staying intact. Some designs can get confusing. (don’t worry about the marker being visible as it easily comes off with nail-polish remover or acetone when you are done). More intricate designs also have scraped parts (removing the outside skin of the pumpkin, this is where a thinner wall is important and this allows light to shine through the flesh)
  7. Start carving, depending on the level of detail I will often start on the small parts in the middle as the flesh of the pumpkin is more stable when there are less cuts. Beginning with the more detailed parts can prevent breakage when you get to the areas around. The key is to have a very narrow serrated carving knife as this allows a slow sawing motion to follow curves and changes of direction without compromising the flesh of your pumpkin. Take your time, plan your cuts
  8. Don’t worry about removing the cut out pieces right away. Again this can keep the pumpkin more stable with detailed designs and patterns. The pieces can be pushed inside and removed later or pulled out the front


As mentioned not all patterns need a lid on top; You can cut out the bottom (similar size hole) of a pumpkin too and place over your light source. With great pumpkins comes a decent amount of time commitment. This is not something you can pull off in 15-20 minutes. Because I enjoy have multiple “cool” pumpkins I will often carve a few days before Halloween or if you are hosting a party the weekend before you still want your creation to be in good shape for trick-or-treaters: TIP: small narrow cuts can dry out over a few days, I have been able to revive a carved pumpkin by soaking in room temperature water for a few hours. It will re-hydrate the flesh and look like it was freshly carved! Just make sure to not let a carving dry out too much that it can’t be revived. Most of all HAVE FUN! And one last thing, YES I have carved all the pictures included!

Happy Halloween


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