Introduction: Pumpkin Carving Tips & Tricks

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Pumpkin carving isn't very difficult, but there are a few tip and tricks that make it easier and give you better looking results.You can watch the video or read the steps here, whatever you prefer.

Pick a pumpkin that's undamaged and has a nice big, sort of flat front section. One of my pumpkins got damaged on the way home and it started moulding a bit, but that's okay. I'll just make sure that I cut that part away.

Put down some newspapers and grab a bowl, because it's about to get messy.

I've got a special pumpkin carving set, which works great. But for many years all I used was a simple kitchen knife.

What you’ll need:
- Pumpkin

- Old newspapers

- Towel

- Small kitchen knife or pumpkin carving set

- Spoon

- Pencil

- Printed pattern

- Tape

- Needle

- Bleach

- Rubber gloves

- Candle or lamp

Step 1: Cut Out the Top

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The first step is to cut out the top. Decide what will be the front and carve a V on the opposite side. This will help align the cap when you put it back on. Now cut all the way around the top. Cut at a 45 degree angle to give the cap a nice surface to rest on.

Step 2: Clean Up the Inside

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Pull the cap off and start removing the insides by scooping and scraping with a spoon. Don't be afraid to use your strength here, the pumpkin can take it and those stringy insides can be pretty tough.

Thin out the wall a bit by scraping the soft inside layer away. I usually scrape the front a lot more, because a thinner wall there will make the carving easier and allow more light to shine through. Also it's a good workout.

Step 3: Basic Carving Tips & Tricks

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And now we can start carving. The simplest way to carve a pumpkin is to simply draw on a design with a pencil and then cut it out. I'm going for a Jack Skellington face here, but of course you can do whatever you want.

When carving, start with the smaller holes. The big holes will weaken the pumpkin, so once those are cut you'll have to be more careful and use less force.

For very small holes, like the nostrils here, it's good to carve at an angle so that the hole on the inside is larger than the hole on the outside. This allows more light to come through and it'll look much better.

I didn't need it this time, but if you accidentally cut off a section that you shouldn't, you can use a toothpick to stick it back in place.

Finally, I like to come back with the kitchen knife to clean up all of the edges.

Step 4: More Advanced Designs

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If you want a more complicated design, you can print it out and transfer it to the pumpkin. For a two-toned design, first decide which sections will be cut away entirely or will only have the top layer peeled away. Tape the paper to the pumpkin an use a needle to make holes that follow the design. Remove the paper and connect the holes with a pencil, referring back to the picture when necessary.

Start carving with the sections that will only be peeled. Trace the outline with the knife and then start cutting away the top layer towards the cut. This will give you nice clean edges. The deeper you cut, the more light will shine through. Try to keep an even depth to get a similar colour throughout, or play with varying depths to get a gradient effect.

Finally, cut out the holes that go all the way through. Again, I angled the cuts to allow more light to come through.

For the eyes that wasn't possible from the outside, so I carved away some material from the inside.

Step 5: Disinfect Your Pumpkin

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When you're done, it's a good idea to disinfect your pumpkins so that they last a bit longer. For me, I'll wash them in water with a little bit of bleach. And then rinse them afterwards and dry them.

And that's all there's to it.

Now you can put a candle or a lamp inside and enjoy your work. When using a candle, don't leave the top on for longer than it takes to take a nice picture though. It will dry out and get black, and it could even burn. Also, my Boo pumpkin doesn't have enough holes to provide the candles with oxygen, so it goes out when I put the top on.

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Bio: Hi. I'm Ellen, PhD student by day and sewer/crafter/maker by night. I believe anyone can be a maker, so I post videos ... More »
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