A pumpkin ghost is an easy and fun carving that's sure to add a spooky element to your house this Halloween. Fans of the classic arcade game Pac-Man probably recognize this ghost as Blinky, the red ghost.
Using simple LEDs I was able to get my pumpkin ghost to light up red, but you can customize your pumpkin ghost to be any color you like.
To really take my pumpkin to the next level I used dry ice from my local grocery store in a bowl inside the pumpkin to create a spooky fog effect. This pumpkin ghost is ready to haunt my house this Halloween and is sure to entertain kids and adults alike!
Ready to crave your own? Let's make!
Step 1: Find the Right Pumpkin
Since the bottom of the pumpkin is removed, we'll need a pumpkin that is slightly elongated to make the ghost shape.
Step 2: Trace Bottom Cut
Using a whiteboard marker I sketched around the pumpkin circumference where the bottom started to taper. This doesn't have to be exact, just enough to remove the curved bottom of the pumpkin and leave plenty of mass to carve from.
Using a sharp knife carefully cut the bottom from the pumpkin.
Step 3: Remove Seeds + Clean Insides
Start scooping out the pumpkin guts, remembering to save the seeds to make something tasty with. I chose to roast the seeds with a little oil and spicy seasoning to snack on.
I used a large spoon to scoop the remaining guts from the insides of the pumpkin to clean it up.
Step 4: Clean Marker
Using a damp rag, the whiteboard marks were cleaned from the pumpkin. The pumpkin was laid flat on the cutting board on the cut end, and then examined to determine the best side to cut the face on.
Step 5: Sketch Bottom Serrations
Using some online references I sketched the bottom serrations with whiteboard marker. A sharp knife was used to cut out the serrations.
Step 6: Clean Marker
A damp towel was used to clean off any remaining whiteboard marker.
Step 7: Sketch and Outline Eyes
Using the same online reference, I sketched the eyes with the whiteboard marker.
Instead of cutting the eyes out I decided to just scrape away the surface skin of the pumpkin. I started by outlining the eyes with a sharp knife, cutting just beneath the pumpkin skin, but not going all the way through the flesh.
Step 8: Scrape Away Eye Shape
I used a small measuring spoon to scrape away the pumpkin skin, revealing the lighter coloured flesh underneath. Any spoon with a sharp edge can achieve the scraping action, so hunt around your kitchen and I'm sure you'll find something suitable.
Scrape away the eye shape, taking extra care to stay within the carved outline.
Step 9: Eye Cleanup
After scraping away the eye shape you can come back and clean up the eye edges with a small knife to get really crisp lines. If there's any whiteboard marker visible you can remove it with a damp rag.
Your pumpkin is basically done! But, to really take things to the next level I decided to add some special effects to my pumpkin.
Step 10: Clean Pumpkin
To increase longevity of my pumpkin, I cleaned the surface with a bleach cleaner. I wiped down the surface with a diluted mixture of the cleaner, then sprayed a few misting squirts inside the pumpkin.
Cleaning the pumpkin with a bleach solution will kill any micro-organisms. Without cleaning the exposed surfaces of the pumpkin are open to infection, which can lead to mold and rot. Spraying the pumpkin will kill any bacteria and increase the life of your pumpkin.
Step 11: LED Electronics
I wanted my pumpkin to light up from the inside with red light so I made a very simple LED array, powered by 3 AAA batteries I wired made 2 arrays of 4 LEDs in parallel which were then wired together in series.
The LEDs were tested on a breadboard first, then soldered to a battery pack with a switch. I deliberately left the LED leads long in order to have them stick into the inside of the pumpkin flesh. If you really wan to stay true to the red ghost from Pac-Man, Blinky, you can change up the regular LEDs for blinking ones.
Step 12: Attach LEDs to Pumpkin
The LED leads were left long so the lights could be inserted directly into the flesh inside the pumpkin. THe battery pack can be held in the same fashion by using wire or a twist tie.
With the LEDs inserted, test the array by switching it on. If for some reason your LEDs are not lighting up, try separating each LED legs apart some to reduce the chance that they are shorting out from being too close together.
Step 13: Dry Ice
To really take things to the next level I used dry ice inside my pumpkin, giving it that spooky fog effect. Since dry ice sublimes at -78.5 °C (-109.3 °F) it is important to wear gloves when handling, otherwise you can get burns from the cold.
I used a hammer to carefully chip off a chunk of dry ice a little large than a golf ball. Adding dry ice to water will cause it to heat up and sublimate to a foggy, adding it to hot water will intensify the reaction and create a much more dramatic effect.
I filled a ceramic bowl is boiling water and then added my chunk of dry ice to it, immediately causing a violent gassy reaction. This bowl was then placed on the ground outside and the pumpkin placed over it, the dry ice fog is cool and pooled around the base of the pumpkin and through the serrated bottom.
Combined with the red LEDs, the dry ice fog really gives this pumpkin ghost a spooky glow.
Step 14: Place Outside
Place your pumpkin outside your front door and wait for trick or treaters to come by. 8-bit fans and costumed kids are sure to enjoy this throwback pumpkin.
Did you carve your own pumpkin this year? I want to see it!
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