I wanted to give my wife's family a nice seasonal gift. A pumpkin with their name in the mouth seemed personable enough :)
I had received one of these as a gift, a few years back, that was made by a 3rd party service contracted through the local craft store. Thought I'd give it a go myself, and personalize it a bit more (choose your own eyes, get more creative with the shape of the text, etc).
- Foam pumpkin (I used a small version, but they also come in large). Small is $14.99 but they are generally available for 50 to 60% off.
- Carbon Paper
- LED tea light (optional)
- X-acto knife (or other sharp blade)
- Glue Gun (optional, for attaching LED tea light)
- Microsoft Word (and the included WordArt text box)
Step 1: Lettering
I originally intended to sketch some letters manually to fill a mouth shape, but for the sake of time and readability wound up using Microsoft Word's WordArt (and frankly I wanted them to curve with the mouth, unlike the ones available commercially that just sit up right). In Office version 2013 I was led to believe some of the WordArt styles were removed. Sort of, they actually moved them to another area. I'll upload the template so you can just reuse it, but I also took detailed screen shots in Word so you can find the settings. In WordArt "Arch Down" works nicely, but you won't get so much of a point in the mouth or any gaps for the corners of the mouth. There is a pink square that if you click and pull down, you can adjust the flow of the letters. If you look at the flow lines, it starts at a half circle... I pulled mine down to somewhere around a quarter circle. Use capital letters. For a small pumpkin, I stretch the WordArt block out to the width of a portrait oriented piece of paper, about 6 1/2" wide.
If you are lettering by hand, draw the mouth first, than write the letters so the top and bottoms follow the lines on the mouth.
- Use CAPITAL LETTERS
Step 2: Printing and Finishing Mouth
Print it out. Using a pencil make a curved line connecting the bottom of all the letters, just try to follow the existing curve of the letters. Do the same for the top. Next you need to create the corners of the mouth. For the pumpkin pictured I probably went a little higher than needed. You should be able to make a horizontal line from the top of the letters out, while finishing the curve up from the bottom of the letters; and get a pretty good looking grin. Now keep in mind, you are not cutting the letters out of the pumpkin, but rather the area around the letters; so anything that is white within the boundaries of the grin (or doughnut slice).
Step 3: Transfer to Pumkin
Trim the paper slightly, so it's easier to work with. Line up the mouth where you want it, and tape the top of it in place on the pumpkin; you need to be able slide the carbon paper (black side down) underneath it. Sketch around the letters and lines. No need to fill it in, just make sure you get the lines inside the letters, like the circles in the B's and R's. I found it helpful to make a small 'x' in the all the white areas, so when the template is removed it is clear what areas needed to be cut out. You don't want to cut the actual letters out, but the area around the letters (and mouth).
- I put little Xs in the spots that needed to be cut out (to lessen errors)
- Avoid using the foam pumpkin's seams as the front face... it takes more effort to cut through.
Step 4: Cutting
I was originally going to use a rotary tool, but a sharp X-acto knife works great (and is easier to control). I'm actually surprised some of the thinner sections have held up so well.
Now carefully cut the sections out around the letters. Be careful pressing the knife in, as some of the areas will be thin and fragile from the small thickness of the letters.
You can remove the sections by either lifting them out, or pushing them in (and getting them later).
Step 5: Rest of Face
I added in a triangle nose, and bats for eyes. (Unfortunately I may have placed the mouth a little too low... and the eyes a little too high. I could fix it by just increasing the size of the nose... but it's close enough). The only thing I would have changed is the corners of the mouth, making the top horizontal rather than continuing to curve up (I think the gaps in the mouth corners would than have been half as tall, but again, close enough).
Step 6: Lighting
If you opt to install an LED tea light: Sketch around the circular base of the tea light (at the bottom of the pumpkin) as a template to cut. After that section is cut out, you can empty any remaining debris from the pumpkin. Use a hot glue gun to affix the light into place. If you hold one side of the light, while gluing the other, you should be able to avoid burning your finger. When the other side cools and dries (fairly quickly), you can than glue the other side without the light moving around on its own.