How to Make a Mini Jack-O-Lantern




Introduction: How to Make a Mini Jack-O-Lantern

About: Recently finished a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. Still love creating in my spare time

How to choose and carve mini Jack-O-Lantern gourds, and a few tricks on how not to cut yourself while doing it.

Step 1: Choose a Gourd

The first step is pretty obvious; you need to choose a gourd. For this step it is up to you discretion but you will want to choose a gourd that is not too small or too flat. If it is too small you probably won't be able to fit the spoon in to gut the gourd. If it is too flat you wont have enough room to work with inside, and it will look odd.

Step 2: Gut the Gourd

This step is a lot like carving a pumpkin. For this step first cut a circle with a key for easy placement later (see picture). Next you need to cut out the top, this will require a steak knife to cut it completely out. As you cut it be sure you cut on an angle, so the lid won't fall through when put back on. To help yourself cut through the dense gourd try putting your thumb behind the knife so the knife acts as a lever. This allows you to slowly and safely work your way around the top, without a chance of the knife slipping.

Next you need to take a small spoon, or whatever you may have, and scrape out the insides. One trick to make the carving easy later is to thin the wall of the gourd where you will be carving.

Step 3: Find an Image to Carve

To find an image that will work you will need to either scale an existing image down or draw your own. To scale down an image first scan it into your computer. Once it is scanned in you can directly scale it, or trace it using a program like AutoCAD then scale it, this will preserve its quality. Once you have a size you like you need to print it out.

Once printed roughly cut it out and make some cuts between the various parts to be cut so it can form to the gourd. Next tape it to the gourd where you will be cutting.

Step 4: Cut the Image

Once the image is firmly taped in place start poking holes along the lines of the image using a hobby knife or pin. When the image is fully poked (it will get wet and tear slightly) remove the picture and keep it for a reference when you cut it later.

Now the image is fully poked you need to start cutting out the parts. try to cut the pieces of the image from the centre first so you don't need to push on the weakened gourd later. If your design has teeth like mine you should initially cut right by them and then go back later and do the fine cutting. If you are having trouble getting a piece out, try cutting it into smaller pieces so you can narrow down where it still needs to be cut.

As you cut is use the same trick as the top, so you don't cut yourself, and go slowly.

Step 5: Light the Mini Jack-O-Lantern

There are two options to light the gourd. The first option is to cut a hole in the top of your large Jack-O-Lantern and in the bottom of the gourd. The second option is to cut a hole in the bottom of the gourd and put in a tea light. Either way you need to cut a hole in the bottom of the gourd. To do this first cut a small hole in the bottom of the gourd the same way you cut the top, just without the key.

While doing this you will need to grip the gourd so be careful not the break the face of the gourd. Once the bottom is cut, you can expand it to the size you need. If you are going to put a tea light in it you should be aware you need to cut air vents in the bottom and top of the back and that the gourd will shrivel very quickly with the heat.

Once you have it lit now all there is to do is sit back and revel in the glory of your mini Jack-O-Lantern.



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    16 Discussions

    Great instructable! A question, though: Is there any reason you cut a hole in the top to scoop from and then another in the bottom for the light?

    1 reply

    I cut the top out because it makes it look more like a jack-o-lantern, but it also allows the heat of the candle to escape, otherwise the face would dry out faster.


    11 years ago

    Just a suggestion: what about using a simple LED for lighting it?

    2 replies

    I have tried lighting in previous years with LEDs, but I prefer the effect of the candle light. It looks cool if you put a led in each eye and hide it in a bush near the door.

    Nothing beats candle light for the flickering spookyness, but for places like offices or dorm rooms, an LED is probably the wiser option. The LED also tends to be brighter, so you can get light coming through the areas that aren't even cut. Sometimes this works against you by washing out the pattern, but sometimes it looks really cool. For a temporary display to entertain the kiddies visiting the dorms years ago, I made a wee lantern and tucked a LED keychain into a plastic baggie and tossed it into the pumpkin. Close quarters, lots of tots, and a wooden building meant that a candle would have been a poor choice. (Entertaining kids with a tiny glowing pumpkin is one thing, entertaining kids with a massive blazing building is another.)

    Now i know what I did wrong all the time ... ;-)

    anybody have pumpkin carving patterns? plz sendme a PM

    One more suggestion: it's possible to clean it out through the hole in the bottom, and so cutting a lid isn't necessary unless you like the look. Thanks for the cutting technique--that works pretty well, even for a klutz like me.

    1 reply

    If you are going to use a lea light or flame in the gourd you need a lid for ventilation. Otherwise this is a good idea for fewer cuts.

    I've done one almost exactly like that to decorate my cubicle (didn't core the bottom out for the votive candle, nice). The coolest thing about the little squashes is that they don't rot (maybe they have less water?) - the shrivel up into dried up littel scrunchy faced shrunked head looking deals. Carve one soon and it'll be excellent by halloween (or put it in your oven on low for a few hours).

    Cool. I think I'm going to make one. I thought it was bigger until I saw how big the tea light looked compared to it. Great instructable!

    Hey there - just a suggestion - you could use a Dremmel tool to avoid the 'blood.' Then again, it would add to effect... :-)

    1 reply

    I didn't use a dremmel because knowing me, I would have slipped. Using the method I described it is almost impossible to cut yourself and at least I have more control then a dremmel.

    prety nice just makes them esayer to smash on devils night lol


    11 years ago

    great job...i was being bugged to help make one of these things..tea light...great idea