This instructable will show you how anyone can carve a nice design on a pumpkin with absolutely no special tools! This design uses a stencil; many of which you can easily find on the internet. However, you don't need a stencil if you can't get one or want to do this without one.
Please be careful as this project uses knives. I am not liable for any injuries you acquire from doing this project.
Step 1: Tools and Requirements
The requirements are simple, all you need is:
A chopping board or something that you can cut on
A long knife (to cut the top open)
A shorter pointy knife (to carve your design and details)
A spoon (to scoop out the pumpkin's inside's)
A pumpkin (obviously)
Sellotape (Only needed if you use a stencil)
Step 2: Be Off With His 'ead
First you need to take your large knife and slice around the top of your pumpkin. Just poke the tip in enough that you can see the line you make. This is just to mark out your cutting line.Do not cut off the head yet because if you do it wrong it cannot be changed. Remember "design before make".
Alternatively you can do this step with a pen or permanent marker/sharpie but it may leave a thick line that you might not want. The choice is yours.
When you are happy with your line you need to chop of his head. Go along your line with the large knife slicing it bit by bit. Ensure that your cut is angled inwards so that the lid will not fall into the pumpkin when finished. Also remember to cut away from yourself so you don't get cut. Once you have his head off you need to scoop out all of the strings and seeds. Using both the knife and the spoon, take it all out and dispose of it or use it to make pumpkin soup. Again the choice is yours
Step 3: Using the Stencil
When you have found a stencil, made sure it fits your pumpkin and printed it off, you need to cut it out. Cut around the outside of the shape that you want and tape it at the top and bottom to the place you want to cut on your pumpkin. Mark out the stencil line, like you did the head, using the small knife. When everything is marked out, cut out the features such as eyes, nose e.t.c. Don't worry about cutting too far into the features as you will be removing them anyway but try not to go out of the lines. Make sure you cut all the way through then push the pieces through the outside of the pumpkin. It sometimes helps if you push in first and also don't worry if they come out in small pieces. You may need to use the knife to help free pieces.
Step 4: Getting Under the Skin
This is my favourite part and not something you see on everyday pumpkins. To make your pumpkin look nicer you can slice away the orange skin to make a shape. This is the reason that you marked out the edge of your stencil. There are 2 techniques I used to slice of the skin. The first is shown in the first picture and is great to start of with. This involves pushing the knife up from around the cut out features, and really does feel like you are getting underneath the skin. The second technique is better to use once you have a bit of skinned flesh showing. Place the knife on a skinned section with the blade edge resting against the skin that you are cutting. Then slide the blade edge underneath the skin lifting it off. As you will see these are very similar techniques which are easy to do. It is important to make sure that you stencil markings go through the skin so that when you get to them, the skin just pulls away. It is also incredibly important that you mind your fingers and never cut towards them.
As an extra touch you can cut some of the flesh away from the inside of the pumpkin until it is less than than a cm. This is difficult to do and you may need to experiment to get the right thickness but when you get it thin enough, the light from a candle, L.E.D or whatever light source is inside should hopefully shine through the flesh.
Step 5: Extras
I realised that the teeth on my stencil would be very hard to cut out successfully so I decided that I would leave them and then cut out my own design. To do this, again mark out your design with the small knife and adjust until you're happy. Just like before, you must now cut out the design, also with the small knife, and push it out. This is easy to do, especially when you have a soft pumpkin. If you are struggling, don't worry and don't press to hard. If you do then the knife will go past you markings and ruin your design. Instead just gently ease the knife into position. Also remember that you can take the knife out and don't have to try and turn around sharp corners potentially breaking the knife.
Another thing I like to do is cut out a finger hole. To do this just cut a small curve, big enough to fit your fingers in, into the lid. This is shown in picture 3.
Finally preservation. Unfortunately I have not been able to try this myself but I've heard that rubbing the exposed parts of the pumpkin (including the inside) with petroleum jelly or vegetable oil will keep moisture in the pumpkin and preserve it nicely. I wouldn't advise this if the pumpkin is dried out (Soak it first then dry it if it is).