How to carve a shaded pumpkin
Looking for something challenging and a little more interesting then your typical Jack-o-Lantern this Halloween? Give this Haunted Mansion pumpkin carving a try. Not going to lie, it takes a lot of time and patience but the end result is totally worth it.
Have another image you'd rather use but don't know how to go about it? Try employing the following techniques...
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Picking your pumpkin:
In order to do this particular carving you're going to want a tall, flat pumpkin. It didn't take long to find one at the local pumpkin patch, naturally grown pumpkins tend to grow on their side and flatten against the ground which works out perfect for us.
You want the pattern to print out on a 8.5 X 11in sheet of paper but if you need to scale it down to fit the pumpkin that's fine. Just remember that the bigger the pattern / pumpkin, the easier it will be to carve all the detail.
Next lets get your supplies:
- A Pumpkin
- A Pattern, print out two copies - one to go on your pumpkin one to keep as a reference while you carve
- A roll of tape
- Lemon juice
- News paper
- A large bowl
- A very sturdy serrated knife
- A large spoon, ice cream scoop or pumpkin scooping tool
- An exacto knife (or box cutter)
- A pumpkin scraping tool (can be bought separate or with pumpkin caving tool sets)
- Alt scraping tool: I had several sizes and shapes of clay carving tools that worked perfect as a scraping tool
Lay down your newspaper this is going to get messy:
Take your serrated knife and cut into the top of the pumpkin. I know it seems simple but there are a couple of tricks to use especially for first time carvers.
- First decide how large to make your lid. A large lid means an bigger opening and an easier time scooping and carving. The down side? Less space to carve your pattern.
Make sure to hold your pattern in place and see how much space you need before you make that first cut.
- When you've figured out your lid size cut into the pumpkin at a 45 degree angle down towards the center stem. Why? So when you place the lid back on top it has a ledge to sit on so it doesn't fall in or get stuck.
- Cut your lid into a unique shape or pattern. I tend to do a star burst shape all with different sized triangles. I do this so there is no confusion about how the lid fits back onto the pumpkin properly. If you want to simplify this just add a notch to one side.
- Scrape off the excess gunk from the bottom of the lid until smooth
Get your bowl out, it's time to scoop:
-Get your scoop tool of choice and start scooping out all the seeds and stringy bits into the a large bowl, keep scooping until its cleaned out.
Done, right? No!
- You're going to want to keep scrapping and scooping at the side your pattern is going to be carved on until it is no more than an 1/2in thick. Since we are using a scrapping technique with a lot of small detail it'll be easier to carve away the majority of the pumpkin from the back then it is from the front.
Transferring the Pattern:
- Wipe the outside of your pumpkin down so it's clean and dry
- Take your pattern and tape the edges down. If you need to cut or fold the corns to fit around the pumpkin.
- Take your exacto knife, trace over the lines of the pattern into the pumpkin skin. Start in the middle with the small details and work your way out, you don't want to cut away large pieces of the image before you've gotten the tiny details first
- Go slowly, it is important that you cut precisely and cleanly.
Now step back:
Lets take a look at the structure of this pattern:
White: Positive space that will be uncut and unscraped. This will remain untouched pumpkin skin
Grey: Shaded space that will make up the majority of our image. This is the area that will be will have the skin removed and the pumpkin scrapped down to a translucent thickness.
Black: negative space that will be cut away completely
The first part your going to work on is the grey shading
- Take your exacto knife and cut away the pumpkin skin in the grey area. You will need to be sure you have clean cut so you don't accidentally cut away any of the white space (seriously, or you'll ruin the image).
- Once the skin is removed take your scraping tools and scrape away at the pumpkin flesh. Take a flashlight or a candle and periodically check the thinness of your pumpkin. You don't want it so thin it will break but you want light to be able to glow through the flesh.
- If you're having a hard time with some of the more complicated bits, you can adjust your pattern and leave them out. It's the overall shape that is important to the carving.
Save this for last:
Once you're done scraping to your desired thickness its time for some traditional carving
Your pumpkin should be thin enough you can cut through the black area with your exacto knife, if not use a small serrated blade.
Be careful where you cut, there are no re-dos with this so be sure your cutting out the right area before pierce your pumpkin.