Calling us the “crazy pumpkin people” just doesn’t do it justice. In fact, just tonight someone  asked me at the gym, “Are you the pumpkin people I’ve been hearing about?” I always laugh inside when that happens because being the “pumpkin house” was never something that we  aspired to be. It just happened. One Halloween Eve 8 years ago, we decided to carve pumpkins in our garage after we had put our kiddos to bed. We were having so much fun that we went to the store at midnight to buy more pumpkins. That night we carved 12 pumpkins. Our neighbors LOVED it, and even though we have moved three times since we  started the tradition, we cannot help but continue the pumpkin parade.

How-to-carve-and-shade-a-pumpkin

I can’t claim to be an expert on very many things, but when it comes to carving pumpkins, we are pretty much professionals. Well, I guess since I didn’t graduate with my degree in pumpkin carving, that may be a slight stretch. But, nonetheless, we carve a lot of pumpkins every year, and they aren’t just jack-o-lantern faces.

So, this fun post will share some fun tips and tricks that we have learned along our journey of becoming the “crazy pumpkin people.”

Tools-needed-to-carve-pumpkins

These supplies make pumpkin carving MUCH easier.

The list is as follows: (everything here can be purchased at your local Home Depot)

A pumpkin Master’s carving kit

Latex Gloves

A 5 gallon bucket {we love our Homer’s All-Purpose Bucket}

Safety glasses

Floor scraper

Exacto hobby knife

Paint mixer that hooks into your drill

Wood carving set

Sawzall

Scissors

and a Drill

 

First, cut off the top of your pumpkin with your trusty sawzall. This is a much better option than spending 10 minutes trying to cut the top off with a kitchen knife, right?

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Next, put on your trusty latex gloves {believe me, this is the most common complaint we have heard over the years…”I HATE the slime!” So, put on your gloves, it helps a ton!

After you have your hands protected from the goop, hook your paint mixer onto your drill and start mixing the pumpkin guts with the end of your paint mixer. It will loosen the guts from the outside wall of your pumpkin and will basically gut the entire thing for you! It. IS. AWESOME!!! The mixers come in two sizes so depending on the size of your pumpkin you can choose the one that will fit the best.

How-to-clean-out-a-pumpkin paint mixer

Dump out the guts into a plastic sack {and cook them up if want!}

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Next, take your scraper and thin out the inside of your pumpkin wall. This helps to get the rest of your pumpkin guts out and helps get your pumpkin ready to carve. If your pumpkin is extra thick you may need to use a clay loop tool too.

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Now that your pumpkin is ready to carve, you need to choose your pumpkin pattern. Check out our post about the top 10 pumpkin carving pattern sites.

We got our Boston Red Sox Pumpkin Pattern from J. Ball at Pumpkinglow.com, but we couldn’t find it when we tried to link to it. So, if you are looking for a similar pattern, we found one HERE.

GO RED SOX!!!

Boston Red Sox Pumpkin Pattern

After you have chosen your pattern, you now need to transfer the pattern onto the pumpkin. You have two options, you can tape your pattern onto your pumpkin and poke it with a pushpin along each line to mark the pumpkin pattern, or you can trace it with Saral Transfer (Tracing) Paper . We prefer the blue transfer paper because it works great!

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Tape your transfer paper onto your pumpkin with the dark blue side facing the pumpkin. Tape your pattern onto your pumpkin and trace it with a pen.

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Be careful when you remove your pattern from your pumpkin. We always save our patterns so that we can look at them for reference while we are carving.

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Whenever you are looking at a pumpkin pattern, the XXXX’d out portions are meant to be shaded. It is super easy to shade a pumpkin if you have the right tools. We love to use wood carving tools and linoleum cutters to do our more intricate shading.

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All you need to do is remove the outer skin of your pumpkin. The key is to make sure that you have thinned out your pumpkin well enough so that the light will shine through the shaded areas.

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When we start cutting our pumpkin design, we always start in the center and do the smallest cuts first. It will help you in the long run believe me. If you wait to cut a small area until the end you will be more likely to break the pumpkin and need to put it back together with a toothpick.

But, if that happens, don’t worry it is not an emergency, just use a little bit of super glue to glue it back together. It works like a charm.

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Cutting the pumpkin with carving tools is an absolute must. I remember always cutting the pattern with a kitchen knife growing up but there is no reason why you should still be using a kitchen knife to carve your pumpkins. We don’t live in the dark ages peeps. Get a pumpkin carving kit. I promise you won’t regret it.

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Like I said before, if you need a little more precision when you are shading, you can use linoleum cutters.

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Voila! You have the best, most professional looking pumpkin carvings on your block!

If you cannot see the light shining through your shading areas, you need to thin out your pumpkin wall a little more.

How-to-carve-pumpkins

After you start to get the hang of shading, you can start doing more intricate patterns!

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To help your pumpkin last longer, place your pumpkin in a bucket of water for a few hours to rehydrate the pumpkin. If you do this every day it will last MUCH longer than the typical day or two.

soak-your-pumpkin-in-water soak-your-pumpkins

To show off the skills of our family just check out some of the amazing carvings from our pumpkin display of 2012.

all things thrifty pumpkin spider man pumpkin

joker pumpkin pattern

pumpkin carving bane pumpkin pattern

If you live in the Southern Utah area and would like to come and see our pumpkin display on Halloween night, email me and I will send you our address!

***This post was sponsored by The Home Depot. Almost all of the products used to carve our pumpkins can be purchased at The Home Depot.***

Comments

  1. says

    I love your blog! I just want to say thanks for posting this. I’m using all of your tips and tricks in my classroom this week as we carve 45 pumpkins. My kids asked to do it and I thought, “Oh I don’t think so…” then I saw this post and it got me to thinking that I could do this with them. I gave you the credit in my recent post if you want to check it out at http://syllatham.blogspot.com/2013/10/and-surprise-is.html
    Hope you have a wonderful week!
    Thanks again!

  2. Jackson says

    Not a fan of the product placement in your tutorial. I feel like you’ve taken something simple and joyful and commercialized it. Just sayin’.

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