I started carving pumpkins by myself when I was in middle school. I remember taking my time to get it just right and being so proud of my work. In 8th grade I entered a Jack-o-lantern contest at school and won! One of my teachers liked it so much he asked to bring it home. It was a carving of a cat's face. It took a while to complete but with a pattern and the right tools it wasn't all that hard to make. I let him take it and then I made another one for my house. :)
The pumpkin in the intro photo is a unicorn carving. My daughter was dressing up as a unicorn for Halloween and wanted our pumpkin to match. I guess it's a cross between a pegasus and a unicorn, since it has wings. ;)
Below you'll find tips, tools and patterns to help you carve your Jack-o-lantern. I hope this lens gives you some great ideas for Halloween.
Cat's Face Carving - My Jack O' Lantern for Halloween 2007
curated from my Flickr account
These were the two patterns mentioned above. The cat and the unicorn.
The pattern book that I use, and that I've had since my middle school days, is Carve-O-Lantern: A Unique Way to Carve Your Halloween Pumpkins produced by Pumpkin Ltd.
Time to Start!
The first three steps.
Step #1: Picking out your stencil.
If you want to create a detailed Jack O'Lantern you'll want to use a stencil. You can buy them, print out free stencils, or draw your own by hand or on your computer.
Step #2: Cutting the top of the pumpkin.
As you cut, angle the knife in toward the center of the pumpkin so the lid you are creating will have something to rest on. I cut in a circle but like to add a square notched "key" in the lid so it can always be put back in the right position.
Step #3: Cleaning out the pumpkin.
Remove all of the pulp from inside the pumpkin. Separate the seeds into a bowl if you want to roast pumpkin seeds. I love pumpkin seeds! Make sure to scrape the inside of the pumpkin as clean as you can. Wipe down the outside when you are finished.
Basic Carving Tools
You'll want pokers and a few different size mini saws if you are using a pattern to carve your pumpkin.
Looking for Free Patterns?
- Pumpkin Masters
Pumpkin Masters created the first pumpkin carving kit. Their site offers carving tips, free patterns, pumpkin recipes, contests and more.
- The Pumpkin Wizard
This site has over 500 patterns, 300 of them are free. They also have a bulletin board set up for people to ask questions and share ideas.
This site is devoted to the art of pumpkin carving. They have 100 Free patterns to choose from.
- Better Homes and Gardens
Free Printable Pumpkin Carving Stencils for Halloween - BHG.com
- Yes We Carve
Download, carve & share your Barack O' Lantern.
Step #4: Transferring the image onto the pumpkin.
Tape the stencil to the face of the pumpkin. Start at the top, then the bottom and end at the sides. You may have to fold the stencil a bit to get it to fit the shape of your pumpkin. That's ok just try to make the creases where the pattern will be the least effected.
Using a poker tool, follow around your pattern in 1/8th inch intervals by pressing the tip into the pumpkin. You are creating the guidelines to cut later with a saw. Make sure to mark every corner and use enough pressure to pierce the pumpkins skin. You'll need to be able to see the marks clearly so you know exactly where to cut. When you finish with the stencil carefully remove it so you can refer back to it if need be.
The final 3 steps
Step #5: Carving the Jack O'Lantern.
Start with the smallest shape that will be removed. Using a small carving saw, push the tip of the blade into the pumpkin and start following the dots. Use short back and forth sawing motions. Don't rush and pay close attention to corners. Gently push out the pieces you cut. Make sure the check the inside of the pumpkin when you are finished and clean out any pieces that have fallen in.
Step #6: Protecting the Jack O'Lantern.
When I'm done carving the pumpkin I coat all of the cut surfaces with petroleum jelly. I don't do the inside, but if you want to keep your Jack O'Lantern for a while it is best to coat the inside as well. This helps keep the pumpkin from drying out too soon. You don't want a shriveled up moldy pumpkin right away after all of your hard work!
Step #7: Mmm Mmm Good
If you have cinnamon handy sprinkle some on the underside of the lid. When the candle is lit and it warms up the pumpkin your jack-o'-lantern will smell like pumpkin pie.
Patterns for Sports Fans - NFL & MLB
Floating Pumpkin Carving Kit
Includes 1 scoop, 1 safety knife, and 1 pumpkin hanging system.
Books on the Subject
Sensational Shadows Pumpkin Pattern Book - From Pumpkin Masters
Includes 8 different pumpkin patterns with shadows.
A Fantasy Pumpkin - The Midnight Hour
This was originally posted on hallmarkmagazine.com which has since ceased publication.
What You'll Need:
1- 12" tall pumpkin
4- 4" tall gourds
4- ornate drawer pulls
3- ornate metal belt buckles
1- ornate lamp finial
2- 1/4" dowel rods (cut to the approx. diameter of your pumpkin)
Pencil or marker
Heavy-gauge florist's wire
Cordless drill fitted with 1/4" bit
1. Trace the inside of each belt buckle onto the pumpkin and cut to create openings for two windows and a door.
2. Glue the hardware over the openings.
3. Remove or cut down the stem until it's even with the flesh of the pumpkin, and twist the finial into the top.
4. Drill a hole through the center of each gourd.
5. Insert one dowel rod into the holes of two gourds to create an axle, and secure with glue. Repeat to create a second set of wheels.
6. Finish off all four wheels by inserting a drawer pull into the outside hole of each gourd for hubcaps.
7. Line up the two sets of wheels next to each other at about the same width as your pumpkin. Then wrap wire from one dowel rod to the other to fasten the axles together and to create a webbing for the pumpkin carriage to sit on.
8. Gently place your carriage on the wire.
For illustrated instructions take a look this Pumpkinhowto.pdf
Every year I look up how to cook pumpkin seeds on multiple websites and every one has something different to say. I haven't been able to find a sure fire way to roast them. I've seen varying temperatures to set the stove and varying lengths of time to leave them in.
This is what I used last year. If you have your own pumpkin roasting experiment let me know the results! I really want to find the perfect "recipe".
Ingredients: seeds from 1 pumpkin, 1 teaspoon of butter, and salt.
Instructions: Place the seeds in a strainer and rinse them. Drain them and let them dry. Preheat Oven to 250 degrees. Melt the butter and coat the pumpkin seeds. Place the seeds 1 layer deep on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle them with salt. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown, stirring 2 to 3 times.
Pumpkin Carving on Squidoo
While it's home was on Squidoo, this page was chosen as Lens of the Day on October 23rd 2008 and again on October 29th 2011.
It was also the most visited lens on Squidoo October 29-31, 2007.
Do you have any pumpkin carving tips to share?
lesliesinclair on October 31, 2013:
Isn't that something; I have a Dremel and never thought about using it on a pumpkin, but sure, that would make some of the intricate cuts easier. We never did much in the way of innovative cutting like you do, but it's lovely or scary to look at.
KarenCookieJar on October 31, 2013:
I carve pumpkins every year, this year I did a ghost.
Doc_Holliday on October 29, 2013:
Carving can be fun - especially at this time of year ;-)
Kathy McGraw from California on June 01, 2013:
I really liked your cat carving...and I've never seen a pumpkin stand before. I also learned your trick of putting petroleum jelly on the cuts. Never heard of that either. Looks like I'll be pretty well prepared next Halloween. Really enjoyed this, thank you!
poorwendy lm on November 04, 2012:
Great lens. I especially like the non-traditional carvings. It looks so artsy.
Yvette Munro on October 28, 2012:
What an awesome lens. So informative and really colorful. There are so many ideas here, my mind is working overtime.
Piers Parker from United Kingdom on October 25, 2012:
Wow! If I had found this before we did ours at the weekend I am sure we would have ended up with something better. Still it was fun. Thanks for the info!
anonymous on October 23, 2012:
Great Lens :)
Fantastic Voyages from Texas on October 22, 2012:
I like carving pumpkins the old fashion way - without a stencil. They may not look very pretty, but it still is a lot of fun.
ShineRita on October 21, 2012:
Nice work! I want to have a pumpkin carving for this Halloween! Great lens!
gatornic15 on October 12, 2012:
Really great ideas! Blessed
fathomblueEG on October 12, 2012:
Super neat lens:-)
ismeedee on October 12, 2012:
Ooo, I really love that pumpkin coach!! Carving pumpkins is such fun, can't wait to do ours!
SilmarwenLinwelin on October 12, 2012:
Great ideas! well done!
DLeighAlexander on October 11, 2012:
Carving pumpkins is such a fun activity. It's a great way to celebrate Fall, the harvest, and a cooler season. You have some great tips here. ~angel blessed :)
SanPedroBJJ on October 11, 2012:
anonymous on October 11, 2012:
Very nicely put together.
latishaalford on October 11, 2012:
Very nice lens
Yvonne L B from Covington, LA on October 11, 2012:
I really like all the stencils. Such great ideas!
sweetstickyrainbo on October 11, 2012:
anonymous on October 09, 2012:
Wow this lens is realy amazing!Love the ideas
EdwardZhang on October 08, 2012:
Hey, Amazing Ideas ! I like A Fantasy Pumpkin - The Midnight Hour is Awesome. Thanks for sharing cool lens.
SkiLoverAlpine on October 08, 2012:
That's some talent you have there! Very cool.
Lou Martin from Atlanta, Georgia on October 08, 2012:
This lens is helpful because I've never craved pumpkins before.
JoshK47 on October 08, 2012:
Popping in with some blessings for the beautiful pumpkins!
anonymous on October 08, 2012:
Awesome Halloween lens!
anonymous on October 07, 2012:
Haven't tried this thing with pumpkin thanks for lens
Leah J. Hileman from East Berlin, PA, USA on October 06, 2012:
That kitty face is cute!
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on September 18, 2012:
Always great to have first-hand advice. Nice work.
EMangl on September 18, 2012:
no tips, sorry, i carve only digital :-)
deckdesign on September 05, 2012:
Awesome job on this lens on pumpkin carving tips. I can't wait now to start carving.
M E Derby on August 14, 2012:
The cat pumpkin is awesome. I am going to try it this Halloween.
Srena44 on November 17, 2011:
JennySui on November 04, 2011:
Congrats on LOTD! You really deserve it.
Sandy Mertens from Frozen Tundra on November 02, 2011:
Congrats on you LOTD!
fugeecat lm on October 30, 2011:
I really like that fantasy pumpkin one that is way cool.
BestRatedStuff on October 30, 2011:
Congrats on the LOTD. This is a great lens.
RitikaSharma on October 30, 2011:
Nice Pumpkin Carving Lens, I just Added your Pumpkin carving lens to my Halloween Lens.Happy Halloween
pramodbisht on October 30, 2011:
Nice Nens, Happy Halloween
SheilaVine LM on October 30, 2011:
anonymous on October 29, 2011:
you should do a pineapple carving lens too lol blessed by a squid angel
anonymous on October 29, 2011:
Wow..excellent lens, LOTD twice! Respect!
AlleyCatLane on October 29, 2011:
Very nice lens. Good instructions and tips. Wish I had known about the vaseline. I quit trying to carve pumkins because they rotted so quickly. Congratulations on 2 LOTDs.
Delia on October 29, 2011:
How cool LOTD twice! Congratulations! very nice pumpkin carvings...
Sara Krentz from USA on October 29, 2011:
Excellent lens - very helpful and informative!
Ilona E from Ohio on October 29, 2011:
Congratulations on LOTD. I think you have the techniques well covered here!
Joan Haines on October 29, 2011:
Use lots of newspaper underneath, then just roll itall up with the mess inside to throw away.
wonderfulquotes on October 29, 2011:
Wow this lens is awesome! Who knew they have NFL patterns :)
andreaberrios lm on October 29, 2011:
Awesome ideas!! I was just looking for something like this to do with the kids on Halloween. Thank you so much. Blessed*
anonymous on October 29, 2011:
Congratulations on getting Lens of the Day Christene - I am very pleased for you :D
food monkey on October 29, 2011:
cryptid lm on October 29, 2011:
This was a certainly very involved piece of writing! I actually have never carved a pumpkin in my whole 21 years of life! My parents never celebrated Halloween, so I sort of missed out on quite a lot. I am planning to try doing it this year, though. It's just the kid in me dying to get out I guess!
Anthony Godinho from Ontario, Canada on October 29, 2011:
Very well done and sharp-looking lens...congrats on double LOTD!
FreelancinFran on October 29, 2011:
Haha I just saw one of the "Potato Head" pumpkins the other day. Great idea for anyone who wants to decorate a pumpkin but doesn't want the mess :)
debsgreatfinds on October 29, 2011:
I enjoyed your lens Happy Halloween!
Asinka Fields from Los Angeles, CA on October 29, 2011:
Beautiful! Congratulations ...
NightMagic on October 29, 2011:
A well deserved LotD. Thank you for all the tips like: adding a square notch on top, coating with petroleum jelly and sprinkling cinnamon. You learn something every day on Squidoo..
Karnel from Lower Mainland of BC on October 29, 2011:
Congrats on Lotd, this was incredible...
DebMartin on October 29, 2011:
This is a great how-to lens. I love the cat and the fantasy pumpkin. And most of all, I love roasted pumpkin seeds. Thanks!
Erin Hardison from Memphis, TN on October 29, 2011:
I love the idea of sprinkling cinnamon on the underside of the lid. Never knew about the petroleum jelly trick either. Great ideas and wonderfully presented. No wonder you've gotten LOTD twice!
seomozgi on October 29, 2011:
Lee Hansen from Vermont on October 29, 2011:
I love the suggestion to sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on the lid ... and the Cinderella coach assemblage is really stylish. Congrats and another LOTD!
mrducksmrnot on October 29, 2011:
I think I like the CAT best. Wonderful ideas and well layout on the how to do with the right tools. Congratulations on LOTD
Ken McVay from Nanaimo, British Columbia on October 29, 2011:
whodiesinthenew on October 29, 2011:
Great fun lens! Thanks a million! :)
ghaelendlareh on October 29, 2011:
These are great ideas and great pointers to accessories. Time to get carving!
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on October 29, 2011:
Fantastic carving patterns. Love your catolantern and the fantasy pumpkin. Very cool. Thanks for the ideas! Congrats on LotD! :-)
RaintreeAnnie from UK on October 29, 2011:
Congratulations on LOTD! Wonderful resource on pumpkin carving.
thecrabbynook on October 29, 2011:
Great Lens! Congratulations on LOTD!
JoshK47 on October 29, 2011:
Awesome guide - congratulations on Lens of the Day! :)
kjbranch77 on October 29, 2011:
Great Stuff! Congrats on LOTD :)
agoofyidea on October 29, 2011:
Congratulations on LOTD! I loved the carraige pumpkin. It looks great but is easy to make. Great lens.
anne mohanraj on October 29, 2011:
Great lens! Especially the Fantasy Pumpkin!
anonymous on October 29, 2011:
Yes, certainly there are thousands reasons to visit here in this lens. Thanks for a fantastic work
Lisa Auch from Scotland on October 29, 2011:
Woot Woo not only a fantastic page! but a totally fantastic award to go with it too! great to see my friend Happy Halloween
elyria on October 29, 2011:
Wow, looks so amazing! I need much more practice (and many pumpkins!) in order to get such pumpkin carving talent.
Indigo Janson from UK on October 29, 2011:
That cat design is so lovely, you really do take pumpkin carving to an art form. Congratulations on a LOTD that's just perfect for Halloween, and your second one too -- double congratulations!
iracer JLo on October 28, 2011:
Great lens! I love carving pumpkins!
hessa johnson on October 28, 2011:
Great ideas, especially the petroleum jelly and the cinnamon tips. Also love the fantasy pumpkin - something different for Halloween.
WindyWintersHubs from Vancouver Island, BC on October 28, 2011:
Congrats on LOTD, Christene! Have a Happy Halloween! ^^..^^
reasonablerobby on October 28, 2011:
really well put together and informative, explains how to make some great pumpkin carving designs in a way that makes me want to give it a try
TagGrafx LM on October 28, 2011:
Your pumpkins look way better than mine haha. I need a little more practice I guess. Have a great halloween and thanks for the tips.
E L Seaton from Virginia on October 26, 2011:
Nice job, especially like the relief carving like the flying horse.
myraggededge on October 21, 2011:
The cinnamon tip is excellent! Fabulous pumpkin resource.
HubLens Admin on October 17, 2011:
Thanks for the step by step guide. I used to love carving pumpkins until the kids come along. Now I am only doing the cleaning works and not the fun stuff! But this year, we'll carve together. Your 2007 jack-o-latern looked really great!
Heather B on October 03, 2011:
I think the smell cinnamon would have me baking pumpkin pie on a daily basis!
Aquavel on September 27, 2011:
Fun lens! Never heard of coating the pumpkin with petroleum jelly or sprinkling the underside of the lid with cinnamon. Great tips! LOVE all the carved pumpkins and lanterns and the directions for making a magic pumpkin carriage!
anonymous on September 23, 2011:
This is a really interesting lens, makes me want to try carving a pumpkin; never tried it, thanks for sharing.
concept247 on September 13, 2011:
I really love that fantasy pumpkin Im going to try and re-create that this year I think. My top tip to share with everyone is to use tooth picks to stick back on any part you may have cut off by accident. We all make mistakes.
AudioHead on August 26, 2011:
Pumpkin carving is an art within itself, for the artistically challenged such as myself.......I'll take any help I can get. Nice lens :)
RetroMom on April 26, 2011:
That pumpkin carriage is just so cute! I cant wait for the next Halloween, I would love to give pumpkin carving a try, I think this is a wonderful activity with the kids to make. Thanks for the tips, it will surely a great help! Great piece!
vitar on November 06, 2010:
Nice lens, good job!
squid-pinkchic18 on November 04, 2010:
PS I featured your lens on my lens titled "Top 10 Halloween Pumpkin Designs"
fromamericateel on November 04, 2010:
You have done a fantastic job with this lens. I am sharing this.
mixmasta91 lm on November 04, 2010:
wow very in depth.
magknetts on November 01, 2010:
amazing lens nice designs
anonymous on October 31, 2010:
Boo! Happy Halloween! - Kathy
AdultAcneSystem on October 29, 2010:
Absolutely I think that having the right Carving Tools, will make any amateur look that much better.Carving tools are a key if you want your carvings to look professional, and enjoy it that much more.
squid-pinkchic18 on October 28, 2010:
Wonderful job with this lens, it's so helpful!
Jennifer Einstein from New York City on October 28, 2010:
This is more for the seeds, but we always used our toaster oven. It's much easier than the big oven and all the kids could look in to see them roasting away. Just tray, tin foil, seeds, and salt.