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This Instructable will show you 2 different Pumpkin Carving examples listing the steps needed to carve pumpkins with an amazing look.

The examples will be shown the way they were done, but at the last part of this Instructable, I’ve included a section showing the “Lessons Learned” thru this process.

I hope you find it useful!

Step 1: 1st Example – Cut Thru Pumpkin Carving:

Materials and Supplies Needed:

  • Pumpkin
  • Cut Protection Gloves
  • Protection Glasses
  • Orange Permanent Marker
  • Spoon
  • Serrated knife
  • Blade Knife Set
  • Artwork Projector
  • Design Stencil
  • Candle

Step 2: Scooping Out the Seeds and Fibrous Strands:

  • Choose the appropriate pumpkin (size and shape) that fits the carving design that you have picked.
  • Wash the Pumpkin outer surface removing any dirt.
  • Dry the Pumpkin with a towel.
  • Draw the contour of the hole at the top of the pumpkin, using the Orange Permanent Marker. The most common shape is circle, so if pick this shape, make sure you include a notch to be able to re-position the stem top piece to its original alignment.
  • Put your Personal Protection Equipment on. I used cut protection gloves and protective glasses.
  • Cut the top piece of the pumpkin using the serrated knife (please see the note related to the use of this kind of knives at the “Lessons Learned” section at the end of this Instructable). Grasp the knife firmly while you move it up and down in a Jigsaw like movement, this will help you to reduce as much as possible the force needed to cut thru the pumpkin. For this top piece, make sure you cut is angled inward so that the piece keeps on top and not inside the pumpkin.
  • Scoop out the guts using the spoon. Once you’ve scooped out most of the insides make sure you use the spoon to scrape the inner surface to remove as much as possible the fibrous strands. Make this mainly at the bottom inside where the candle will be located to have a flat surface to place the candle. It is important to notice that scooping out the guts before you cut and try to take out a cut part of your design, is “crucial” as the inner strands are attached to that cut part, and trying to pull them out with the strands still attached may damage your design.

Step 3: Drawing:

  • Print the Stencil on a sheet of paper to an appropriate size that fits in your artwork projector. My Projector accepts 5” x 5” printed images. I prepared my own stencil using a couple of photos of the scarecrow at the main entrance of Disney’s Holiday Haunted Mansion inspired by "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" and using AutoCAD.
  • Pick the side of the pumpkin to be carved. Usually you will have a nice looking side (uniform in shape and color) and the other side not as nice looking as the other, so pick the nicest.
  • Get into a dark room and using your Artwork Projector, project your stencil on the chosen pumpkin side. One of the benefits of using a projector is that the shape distortion resulting from attaching a flat printed stencil over the pumpkin round surface will be reduced as much as possible.
  • Follow the projection to draw the stencil design on the pumpkin, using the Orange Permanent Marker. The benefits of using an Orange Permanent Marker to draw on the pumpkin are: 1 - The marker color blends with pumpkin natural color (this applies to orange color pumpkins only) so any remaining mark left will be hard to notice. 2 - As the marker is permanent, it will be hard to erase the design by accident as happens with non-permanent markers.

Step 4: Cutting Thru:

  • Put your Personal Protection Equipment on again.
  • Cut the drawn design using the serrated knife (again, please see the note related to the use of this kind of knives at the “Lessons Learned” section at the end of this Instructable). Grasp the knife firmly while you move it up and down in a Jigsaw like movement, this will help you to reduce as much as possible the force needed to cut thru the pumpkin. For this design avoid making an angled cut, instead do your best to keep the knife tip pointing to the center of the pumpkin while you make the cut.
  • Remove the cut pieces pushing them out from the inside to the outside, avoid doing it the other way around as this may damage your design.
  • Clean up the edges using an Exacto knife, being sure of removing enough pulp for the light to pass thru appropriately.
  • Carefully, give your pumpkin a final rinse to clean up the result.
  • Carefully, dry the Pumpkin with a towel.
  • Place a lit candle in the inside, and that’s it! Your Jack-O-Lantern is ready!

Step 5: 2nd Example – Cut Thru + Skin Shaving Pumpkin Carving:

Materials and Supplies Needed:

  • Pumpkin
  • Cut Protection Gloves
  • Protection Glasses
  • Orange Permanent Marker
  • Spoon
  • Interchangeable Blades Knife Set
  • Jigsaw Blades Set
  • Design Stencil
  • Scissors
  • Sticky Tape
  • Pushpins
  • Wire End Clay Modeling Tools
  • Rotary Tool + Accessories
  • Candle

Step 6: Marking the Design:

  • Choose the appropriate pumpkin (size and shape) that fits the carving design that you have picked.
  • Wash the Pumpkin outer surface removing any dirt.
  • Dry the Pumpkin with a towel.
  • Print your design stencil on a sheet of paper to an appropriate size that fits your pumpkin. In this case I used a very nice “Harry Potter” face stencil that I found in Internet. This stencil shows 3 different areas as follows: Brown – Keep the Pumpkin Skin, Orange – Peel off the pumpkin Skin, Yellow – Cut Through the whole shell.
  • Note – The chosen design stencil is a highly detailed and the picked pumpkin is medium size. That being said, the available shell thickness for details such as the eyeglasses frame is not too big, reason why I changed the sequence of the steps in order to keep the pumpkin shell structural integrity as much as possible while I draw, shaved and cut thru.
  • Cut around the printed stencil design, using the Scissors, leaving about 1” around the edge of the design.
  • Pick the side of the pumpkin to be carved. Usually you will have a nice looking side (uniform in shape and color) and the other side not as nice looking as the other, so pick the nicest.
  • Present the stencil to the pumpkin side chosen and find the best position for it.
  • Fix the stencil to the pumpkin using the Sticky Tape.
  • Mark the stencil contour areas on the pumpkin surface using a Pushpin. You will push the Pin thru the printed stencil sheet, marking the pumpkin shell. Do this as quickly as possible as the juice released by the pumpkin due to the Pushpin marks would hinder your ability to distinguish the contours on the soaked stencil.
  • After doing the marking of all the contours, remove the Sticky Tape and the Stencil as much as possible. You can rip them out as at this point the stencil will be completely damaged as it will be completely soaked on juice.
  • Wash the pumpkin again, but now to remove the adhered paper from the surface.
  • Put your Personal Protection Equipment on. I used cut protection gloves and protective glasses.
  • Use a utility knife to cut the pumpkin skin joining the marked dots to clearly delimitate the areas. This step is very important as this area delimitation will help to avoid skin removal on areas that must keep the skin, when you peel off the skin from adjacent areas. For this step, I used an acrylic cutting knife.

Step 7: Shaving, Scooping Out the Seeds and Fibrous Strands, and Cutting Thru:

  • Use the Rotary Tool with a Round Engraving Cutter to easily peel off skin at the inside edge of the shaved areas. Do the same to shave the boundaries of the design (i.e. where the design ends with a non-shaved area adjacent to the pumpkin skin outside the carved design. This will act as a clear marking of where the design ends). For this step, I used a Dremel 4000 Rotary Tool and a 107 Engraving Cutter running at about 13,000 RPMs.
  • Use the Wire End Clay Modeling Tools to remove the skin at the inside of the shaved areas that just got clearly delimited with the rotary tool.
  • Draw the contour of the hole at the top of the pumpkin, using the Orange Permanent Marker. The most common shape is circle, so if pick this shape, make sure you include a notch to be able to re-position the stem top piece to its original alignment.
  • Now a revelation: You can make an excellent Pumpkin Cutting Tool as follows: Remove the sharp blade from the big gripping handle of your Knife Set. Replace the sharp blade with the “Wood Clean Scroll” Jigsaw Blade of your Jigsaw Blade Set. The resulting tool is amazing as you will be able to cut thru the pumpkin shell easily just emulating the Jigsaw up and down movement. Highly recommended.
  • Cut the top piece of the pumpkin using the Jigsaw Blade Tool that you just made. Grasp the Tool firmly while you move it up and down in a Jigsaw like movement, this will help you to reduce as much as possible the force needed to cut thru the pumpkin. For this top piece, make sure you cut is angled inward so that the piece keeps on top and not inside the pumpkin.
  • Scoop out the guts using the spoon. Once you’ve scooped out most of the insides make sure you use the spoon to scrape the inner surface to remove as much as possible the fibrous strands. Make this mainly at the bottom inside where the candle will be located to have a flat surface to place the candle. It is important to notice that scooping out the guts before you cut and try to take out a cut part of your design, is “crucial” as the inner strands are attached to that cut part, and trying to pull them out with the strands still attached may damage your design.
  • Again, using your Jigsaw Blade Tool, cut the carving design “cut thru areas”, starting by the areas that will leave the thinnest shell sections (i.e. the eyeglasses frame), and continue with the sections with more structural strength. Grasp the Jigsaw Blade Tool firmly while you move it up and down in a Jigsaw like movement, this will help you to reduce as much as possible the force needed to cut thru the pumpkin. For this design, avoid making an angled cut, instead do your best to keep the blade tip pointing to the center of the pumpkin while you make the cut.
  • Remove the cut pieces pushing them out from the inside to the outside, avoid doing it the other way around as this may damage your design.
  • Clean up the edges using an Exacto knife, being sure of removing enough pulp for the light to pass thru appropriately.
  • Carefully, give your pumpkin a final rinse to clean up the result.
  • Carefully, dry the Pumpkin with a towel.
  • Place a lit candle in the inside, and that’s it! Your Jack-O-Lantern is ready!

Step 8: Lessons Learned:

  • First Things First – Safety: I made the first example (Cut Thru Pumpkin Carving) using a kitchen Serrated Knife, but even though I did the job carefully, I realized that it is not the best way to do this, and that using this kind of knives to carve a pumpkin is an unsafe act. That being said, I strongly recommend you to use a Jigsaw Blade Tool as the one I made, or to use the tools included in the pumpkin carving kits that you may find in the supermarket during Halloween season.
  • I tried to do the Harry Potter design (Cut Thru + Skin Shaving Pumpkin Carving) projecting the stencil on the pumpkin using the Artwork Projector, but as the colors of the stencil are mainly brown and orange, I had a hard time distinguish the stencil image as it blended in. To avoid this happening, you may paint the pumpkin surface temporarily using a Tempera Paint and washing it out once the carving is done.
  • I had trouble as well distinguishing the Pushpin marks and the blade cuts (areas delimitation) on the pumpkin surface. This can be avoided rubbing flour, cornstarch or baby powder over the pumpkin surface (after doing the Pushpin or blade marking). This way the dots and the cuts will turn bright white making them noticeable.

Additional Final Tips:

  • Even though the pumpkin shell has a high water content, it may catch fire if the inside temperature raises due to the lit candle. To reduce this risk, you can add a chimney hole on the top of the pumpkin. A 1 inch wide hole will suffice for this purpose.
  • To avoid burning your hands when placing the lit candle inside the pumpkin, you can do another hole at the bottom of the pumpkin, this way you will place the pumpkin over the candle and not the candle inside the pumpkin.

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable!

Happy Halloween!

<p>Its amazing mostly the Harry Potter one, hope you to win this contest!</p><p>I've already voted.</p>
Thank you mahdis_st!
Yours is a piece of artwork! Congratulations!
nice job. I did this one of my daughter

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Bio: Mechanical Engineer, Master in Manufacturing Systems. Interest in Purchasing and Negotiations.
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