Pumpkin carving has a deep-rooted history in American culture. Whether you are a fan of the traditional butcher knife or more fine-tuned supplies for more detailed carving, today there are specialized carving tools available from a range of sources. Martha Stewart, a lover of all things Halloween, has brought pumpkin carving to a new level, offering creative designs and techniques.
The first step in the caring process to find the perfect pumpkin. Look for a pumpkin with smooth, relatively unblemished skin and no soft spots. Before buying, make sure to sit the pumpkin on a flat surface to see if it is stable. We buy our carving pumpkin from a local farmers’ market, aptly named Jack-O-Lantern Farm, but nearby pumpkin patches are also a great resource.
Next, you will need to cut a hole in the pumpkin, either in the top or bottom, depending on how you plan to light the pumpkin’s design. Draw a guide, and then cut the hole using the saw provided in your carving kit or a serrated kitchen knife.
Hollow out the pumpkin using your hands and a scraper scoop or spoon. Be sure to clean out all the seeds, strings, and pulp, especially around the area of the pumpkin that will be carved. Depending upon the pattern you choose, you may opt to thin the pumpkin’s inner wall in the spot where you will place your design.
Then attach and transfer your carving pattern. We used the Paisley stencil, which is available for download from our Maker Supplies + Stencils page. Resize the pattern to fit your pumpkin, and tape it to the smoothest spot. We scaled the Paisley stencil to 75% then deconstructed it to create our own pattern. Use a push pin, needle tool, or nail to poke holes that trace the line of the pattern, piercing the pumpkin flesh through the stencil.
Remove the pattern template. For carving, we prefer the Grampa Bardeen’s Family Pumpkin Carving Set, which is ideal for even the most detailed carving. Holding the carving saw like a pencil, saw along the dotted pattern. Push carved bits through each opening with your finger. Add additional carved details as desired.
To light your carved pumpkin, we recommend using electric string lights or battery-operated candles as safe alternatives to traditional candles. You can carve the hole in the bottom or side of the pumpkin if you plan on using electric lights so that you can hide the cord.
Help preserve your jack-o’-lantern by rubbing a little petroleum jelly on the carved edges and wrap the entire pumpkin in plastic wrap and refrigerate when not in use.
To ensure your creativity continues throughout Fall, The School of Making has launched a new, limited-edition DIY Kit. The Limited-Edition Starter Poncho Kit features the autumnal hues of Salmon and Natural, hand-stenciled with the Magdalena design. Our Poncho is ideal for cool-weather layering and the simple placement of the stencil design lends itself well to beginner sewers. The Limited-Edition Starter Poncho Kit is available now through November 7th.
Share your pumpkins and poncho with us and the making community using the hashtag #theschoolofmaking.