Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Carving the Pumpkin

What you need:
  • Pumpkin
  • Bag or bucket for waste
  • Etching tool or blunt, sharp instrument
  • Design (either on paper or free-hand) click here, here, here, here, and here, for printables
  • Knife/Carving tool
  • Vaseline (petroleum jelly)
  • Toothpicks (in case of accident when cutting, a piece can be put back and secured)
  • Candle or Glow Stick
 The all-important steps
  1. Select and purchase your Pumpkin - you may already have a design in mind which may dictate the size or shape of your pumpkin. If you are doing this for the first time, I would suggest a middle-sized pumpkin. Not too small that it's awkward and fiddly to carve, and not too big that it takes forever and is too heavy to handle.
  2. Cut lid - I opted for a lid that included the top circle and the back centre. (see picture)            My research informed me this was a great way to cut for easy handling and lighting of the candle. This worked well, and I did not burn my fingers once.

  1. Remove the pips and pith - I used a butter knife and/or spoon to dig lightly into the flesh at the top, which then came off in strips when I pushed it down the inner wall with some force. I then scooped the last out and smoothed with the spoon.

  1. Select the design - There are many great designs from simple to crazily intricate.
  2. Transfer the design - There are carving tools available. I held the design to the pumpkin while pushing hard with a pen in a scratching motion. You can also choose to use the tool to push holes around the design.

  1. Cut the shapes - These orange pumpkins are not as fleshy as the grey skinned ones I am used to, nor is the skin as tough to cut. I used the butter knife to first cut a slit in the middle of the smallest shape, then cut from this slit to the edge of the shape, creating a criss-cross shape inside. I then pushed the knife around the edge of the design. This way, you can push the smaller pieces through instead of putting a lot of pressure to push one large piece. I then went on to do all the shapes in this fashion.
  2. Tidy up shapes - I used the butter knife and my finger to tidy up the shapes and clear away any dangly bits on the inside.
  3. Dispose of waste - I had my plastic bag on the bench right next to the pumpkin. The pith and pips went straight in there. There was much less waste than I expected.

  1. Coat flesh on the inside with Vaseline - Smear the inner flesh and exposed cuts with a thin layer of Vaseline. This prolongs the life of your pumpkin a little so it doesn't start to breakdown, smell and decay for a while.
  2. Light up your Pumpkin and put the lid on - I used a tea-light candle. It is small and not so obvious. Alternatively, you can also use Glow Stick which gives you options of different colour glows and no flame required. With the lid on it is ready to display.
  3. Stand back and admire - They really do come to life as you light them up and the night creeps in.

In the words of Miss 8 and Master 5, "That looks awesome!"


  1. How clever and creative !

    I know you make it look easy but I'm sure it takes a little talent and practice to get that awesome face.

    1. It is easy Trish. This way my first attempt - EVER!
      You just need to take it slow.