Introduction: Nailed It! - Scary Blowfish Pumpkin

Hello Instructablers!

My name is Corinna. I am 18 years old, and I live in Germany.

After remembering one special pumpkin for a very long time (some neighbour of mine had it at his doorstep when I was about 7 years old), I finally decided to give it a try and carve a similar pumpkin myself.

Since so many of my friends liked my idea, I chose to write an instructable about the pumpkin this year so it can inspire my friends and others for their pumpkin carving the next years.

The lit candle - lighting up the pumpkin walls from the inside - makes it seem scary since you see the dark silhouettes of the nails inside. Though, by daylight, the pumpkin reminds me more of a blowfish feeling miserable.

Step 1: Materials and Tools


  • small (about 800g) and big (less than 30) nails (available in large quantity boxes for about 10 euros or dollars)
  • a pumpkin


  • a small kitchen knife
  • a server spoon (a different spoon should work too)
  • a bowl (for the pulp of the pumpkin)
  • a non-permanent marker
  • a scalpel
  • a hammer

Step 2: Hollowing the Pumpkin

Here is something important to know if you want your pumpkin to last as long as possible: cutting the pumpkin open on the back might be a better choice than on the top around the stalk. That is because the stalk still provides nutrients to the pumpkin if you do not cut the supply.

Also, cutting the pumpkin open on the back is practical since you can "cut out" the unpleasant looking spots on the pumpkin.

Cutting open the pumpkin can be easily done with a kitchen knife. Make sure you give it a little gradual twist while cutting so the hole appears almost round. Now, you can easily lever out the back.

In my experience, hollowing out the pulp works very well with a server spoon. Of course other spoons work too. If you even bought a special pumpkin carving set you can definitely use these tools.
First, I carve the pulp off the cut out part of the pumpkin. Afterwards, I focused my attention on the inside of the main part of the pumpkin. For me, it worked best to scrape down the pulp on the pumpkin walls before spooning everything out. Partially, I found it easier to scrape down the pulp by holding the spoon the other way around than you would hold it to eat with - but that was mostly on the upper half of the pumpkin. On the lower half, it appeared to be better holding it the normal way so you would carve out the pulp rather than stabbing into the pumpkin.

Finally, you can spoon everything out. The more of the smooth pulp you get out of the pumpkin, the longer the pumpkin will last. That is due to the fact that the smooth pulp starts to rot first and attracts mould.

Step 3: Sketching the Face

For sketching the face it is important to use a non-permanent marker. This will prevent your pumpkin's face from having black eyeliner or lipstick. ;-)

If you want your pumpkin's face to be similar to mine (even though you might not have a picture of me :) ), you can print, cut out, and fix the sketch I uploaded (see picture above) to your pumpkin. (I must say thought: It has remarkable resemblance!)

Sketching is best done from the bottom left side up if you are right handed. This ensures the least amount of possible smearing.

Step 4: Carving the Face

I used the scalpel to carve the face. The advantage of the scalpel over the kitchen knife is that it is much thinner and more accurate. You can cut the curves much better with it compared to the knife. Here too, you should remember to give the scalpel a little gradually twist (as you did with the knife in step 3).

As soon as you are done carving all the lines on the pumpkin, you can wash away the paint with a wet tissue.

To remove the cut shapes, it is helpful to split them into roughly four pieces. Now, you can press out one of the pieces from the inside and push the other pieces inwards so they break away.

Afterwards, you can bring down the rough edges to a round figure with the kitchen knife.

Step 5: Nailing the Pumpkin

No, this is not a voodoo doll! :)

I decided to put in the nails around the bottom of the pumpkin first since the lower areas are the hardest to get to later. This is best done at the beginning since you can still touch and turn around the pumpkin on every side without hurting yourself.

You should start at the front to get a bit of a feeling for how many nails you have to hammer or push in per square-inch (picture 2). For that, I used the smaller nails. These are easily pushed inside the pumpkin flesh - there is no need to hammer them. After that, I put in the whole bottom line of nails all the way around the pumpkin except where the cut out the hole on the back is.

That being done, I took a big nail and hammered it into the right side of the top just deep enough for it to stick but not any deeper than necessary. This leaves most of it sticking out on the outside (picture 4). I repeated this with three other big nails and similar depths (picture 5).

Now, I took about 10 big nails and evenly spread them around the pumpkin. Each nail having half of it sticking inside the pumpkin. Consequently, this time, I nailed them deeper into the pumpkin.

Afterwards, I went on with the smaller nails. You can first attach them around the pumpkin's face, making sure they are stuck in multiple depths (picture 8).

Once you did this all around the visible parts of the pumpkin (picture 9), it is time for the final touches in the next step.

Step 6: Final Touches

To me, the pumpkin seemed still too happy. Therefore, I added some more of the big and darker nails. For these, I looked for bare spaces and hammered them in as deep as possible. This results in having some darker spots visible outside and more dark shadows inside.

In the end, you can light a candle inside the pumpkin to enhance the nail silhouettes that are now visible from the outside. Finally, you reattach the cut out back part of the pumpkin, thus creating a better contrast between silhouettes and lit back of pumpkin. This also prevents light to escape from the pumpkin, lighting the surroundings.

Step 7: Finished Pumpkin

And, there it is! Your final scary Pumpkin.

Happy late and future Halloweens!

I hope you had as much fun with the instructable as I did.

Lastly, I want to apologise for my english. Since I learned english at school, I am not a native speaker. Still, I hope you understood everything!

Please, feel free to ask questions in the comments. I will get back to you as soon as I can.

If you like my instructable, please vote for me in the pumpkin carving and halloween decor contests 2016!

Pumpkin Carving Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Pumpkin Carving Contest 2016

Halloween Decor Contest 2016

Participated in the
Halloween Decor Contest 2016