Learning how to carve a pumpkin can be a lot of fun! From dragons to popular figures like Brett and Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords, there are many stencils available to choose from. The difficulty level will be determined by the pattern you choose, so select your design carefully. While an advanced stencil may look appealing, consider going with something a little more beginner-friendly if you consider yourself a pumpkin carving novice.
Step 1: Prepare Your Pumpkin Carving Workspace
The first step you must take when learning how to carve a pumpkin is locating an ideal workspace. Outdoor settings are often preferred if you have one available. You will need a flat surface, such as a counter, kitchen table or picnic table. Seating is also recommended so you can relax while you carve. Keep in mind that pumpkin seeds and guts will likely wind up everywhere, so choose a space that will be easy to clean.
Gather your cutting tools, markers, pumpkin carving stencil and a cover for your work surface (if necessary). As you set up the area, keep the pumpkin at the center where you can easily reach it but place all of your tools nearby while leaving a little elbow room. You will be turning your jack-o-lantern and may wind up standing or shifting your body while you work, so that extra space will be used eventually.
Step 2: Carefully Begin the Pumpkin Carving Process
Carve a circle around the stem at the top of your pumpkin. This should be done while holding the blade at an angle so a small ledge or shelf is created as you cut. If you cut straight down, the top may fall inside the pumpkin when you place it back on. You are essentially creating a lid for your jack-o-lantern. You can also cut a shallow groove in the lid, preferable near the side that will face behind the carved area. This will make it easier to lift the lid if the stem is short or breaks off. Clean out all seeds and debris from the inside.
Next print out your stencil and cut out each section. This step is important when learning how to carve a pumpkin for the first time. The pattern will show you where to make each opening. Apply the cut out stencil with tape and trace it onto the pumpkin’s face.
Put down the big carving knife and pick up something small, like an Xacto knife, box cutter or nail. Slowly go over the entire design by making small, shallow cuts or inserting the nail to literally perforate the line. Once this is done, you can grab the carving knife and begin cutting out each shape.
Step 3: Preserve the Jack-o-Lantern
If you are just learning how to carve a pumpkin, it doesn’t hurt to also research different jack-o-lantern preservation methods. If you spend a lot of time on a unique Borat or Gary Coleman design, then you certainly want to make it last! Some preservation methods take hours, so make sure you plan accordingly.
The final step is to set up your display area. Place the jack-o-lantern wherever you plan to keep it and add any special flourishes. Some carvers add clothing or accessories to their pumpkins. Fake blood or Halloween props can dress up the finished design as well. Learn how to carve a pumpkin the right way and make your house the most looked-at location in your neighborhood this Halloween!