Pumpkin Carving Instructions
The pumpkin patterns on this site are cut out using a shading technique. This is achieved by cutting holes into part of the pumpkin, cutting away the skin and part of the flesh in other areas, and leaving the third areas natural. Though this technique sounds difficult, it can be quite easy if you are careful and plan ahead.
What you will need:
1. A pumpkin carving pattern... (2 copies recommended).
2. A pumpkin that has a front surface at least 8 1/2 by 11 inches, the flatter the better...
3. A precision pumpkin carving saw.
4. A pumpkin scraper or a tablespoon.
5. Tape for attaching the pattern to the pumpkin.
6. A pen (preferably red) or poker to trace the pattern onto the pumpkin.
7. Tools for removing pumpkin skin and flesh. These may include Speedball linoleum block print cutters. This is a set of small interchangable blades with a handle to hold them.
8. If using the pen to trace the pattern, you will need transfer paper.
Other suggestions for "peeling" tools include:
• Clay loop tools. These tools are small, fairly sharp blades, bent into a few shapes which can be used to peel away larger areas of the skin and flesh of the pumpkin more easily, and also to smooth larger peeled areas after using the Speedball.
• Wood carving tools, including chisels.
• Knives, screwdrivers, kitchen gadgets, or anything else you find that will peel away the outer layers of the pumpkin without going through.
1. To get started, you need to cut either the top or bottom out of the pumpkin. (We recommend the bottom...) This is necessary so that the "guts" can be removed. Remove all the seeds and loose pulp and use the scraper or spoon to clean the inside surfaces of the pumpkin.
2. Scrape the inside area of the pumpkin where the pattern will be carved to make the shell about 1 inch thick. Try to keep this uniform, so that the effect will work properly.
3. Dry the pumpkin skin with a towel so that the tape will stick.
4. At this point, if you are using transfer paper to trace the pattern on the pumpkin, tape the pattern to the back of the transfer paper, making sure that the transfer side is facing away from the pattern.
5. Tape the paper pattern onto the pumpkin. Tape top and bottom first, sides next. Then it usually is necessary to crease the pattern a little to tape the corners. Be sure to put your creases in a place where the pattern will be distorted the least. Tape all the way around the pattern to ensure a good transfer.
6. Next, trace the pattern on the pumpkin using either the poker or a pen. If using the poker, poke holes around all the lines about 1/8 inch apart.
7. If using transfer paper, trace over the pattern firmly with the pen to trace the lines.
8. Be sure to trace around all the lines of both the black areas (holes), and the grey areas (peels). If using a red pen, it is easier to see where you've been.
9. Remove the pattern. If using a poker, re-trace the lines using a pen, or even better, Sharpie markers. I use a black marker around the "holes" and a red marker around the "peel" sections. Refer to your second pattern if you get confused.
10. Cut out all the "holes" first, smallest to largest, using the precision saw. Leave the cut out parts in the holes until all the holes have been cut out. This aids in stability during the sawing.
11. Carefully remove all the cut out pieces from the holes.
12. Use the Speedball linoleum cutters, wood chisels, or other peeling tools in the grey "peel" areas, removing the skin an about 1/2 inch of the flesh. Remove all the skin from the grey areas in this way. Finish peeling the flesh to a uniform 1/2 inch deep in all the grey areas. You can also use the clay tools at this time to clean up the peeled areas.
13. Finish carving the finishing touches on the pumpkin in the dark with a candle or light inside. This helps you see the final effect while touching up areas that were not done cleanly during the previous steps.
And there you have it: Your carved pumpkin masterpiece!
_________________Prairie Pumpkin Carver