Carving pumpkin is easy. Sure, I personally use power tools and extreme techniques, but many of the methods that I use to carve pumpkins apply to anyone.
- Over the years I have carved tons of pumpkins. During that time I have learned a few shortcuts and tricks. I'm happy to share them with you on this instructables.
Step 1: Buying a Pumpkin
Pick a pumpkin that's heavy -- that means it's still fresh -- and avoid pumpkins with mold around the stem. While many people go for round, symmetrical pumpkins, I recommends the "ugly and tall" ones because they're more expressive.
Step 2: Tools
For the 3-D expressions on her jack-o'-lanterns, I uses clay carving tools. These can be purchased at art supply stores or online. I also uses a pen knife, paring knife and bird's beak knife (a specialized tool for food carving) for detail work.
A kitchen brush and scouring pad are handy for cleaning and smoothing the surface of your carving.
Step 3: Carve Now, Gut Later
The pumpkin will keep fresh longer if you wait to gut it. After carving the face, you will be able to display the pumpkin for up to 10 days with the insides intact as long as you store it a cool place at night.
When storing the pumpkin, spray it with water and wrap it inside a plastic bag to retain moisture. Right before Halloween, make a hole in the bottom, scoop out the guts and add a candle or battery-powered light to the inside -- all of the details you carved will glow beautifully.
Step 4: Accessorize!
You can find a range of arms, legs, horns, toy knives, spiders and other props to decorate your jack-o'-lantern, either online or party supply stores. But you can also use what you have one hand -- including yams, carrots or other carved food items -- to dress it up.
Step 5: What a Face
There's nothing wrong with an old-fashioned four-hole jack-o'-lantern: two eyes, a nose and a big mouth (extra points if there are some teeth in there). It's a classic.
But if you want to give 3-D jack-o'-latern sculpting a try, here are some guidelines:
- Start by using a large looped tool to scrape the surface layer of pumpkin from the area where you want to place the face.
- Carve out the basic lines for the eyebrows, nose and chin. Carve under the eyebrow to define the eyes. Sculpt the form of the nose and create a slope on the nose leading to the tip. Blend the eye sockets into the cheek area.
- Use the point of your loop tool create smile lines that start from the nasal area and extend down toward the mouth. You can go deep on the smile lines, but if the surface starts to feel soft to touch do not go any deeper.
- Carve a smile and start to shape the features. Remove material to create bags under the eyes. Dig deeper near tear ducts and the outer eye area.
- Use medium-sized loop to refine the contours and creases. Use the small loop tool to sharpen creases and define details.
- Using a small round loop, remove the material to create the nostrils. Use a large loop tool to smooth imperfections.
- Finish the surface with a scouring pad.
Step 6: In Case of Accidental Dismemberment
If you make a mistake or cut off more then you'd planned, no worries. You can use super glue or a tooth pick to add a piece back, or just change your design.
One you have mastered the basics you can move on to bigger challenges. I suggest visiting Halloween stores or watching sci-fi movies for inspiration. It's Halloween -- anything goes!