I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself the Pumpkin King of the Plains. Maybe some kind of duke. What I mean to say is: I love carving pumpkins. I go all out. And I wanted to spread the love this season.
Here are a few tips and patterns to get you slicing right and in a Mile-High kind of spirit. It’s also a great opportunity to pursue a question that we’ve been obsessing over at Denverite: What are the visual icons that really get to the soul of our community?
If you’re also passionate pumpkiner, please do send us photos of your jack-o-lanterns this year (email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on Instagram with @dnvrite) and we’ll feature them next week as Halloween draws near.
Some best practices
- Pick a good pumpkin! It’s not always about the biggest gourd. I always look for that perfect specimen with a nice flat side to it for ample carviture.
- Prepare the insides first. When you scoop out all that pumpkin goop, make sure to give a hearty scrape to the inside of the wall you’ll be carving. Especially if you’re going for the more complicated designs below, you don’t want to mess with more than an inch of pumpkin depth. Just be careful not to scrape too far that the design won’t hold up.
- Chart your design. I always draw straight onto my canvas with a marker, but if you’re using any of these designs, you probably aren’t going freestyle. For the easier patterns, I recommend printing them out, taping them onto the pumpkin and then using something sharp to poke holes through the paper. When you’re done, you’ll have a good roadmap for slicing your design. For the harder ones, I reccommend cutting the design out with an X-Acto knife, taping the white sections to the pumpkin, then tracing right onto the pumpkin with a marker. Each of these illustrations is designed for you to cut out the black space; imagine those areas aglow with candle light.
- Grab the right tools. I’m really a big fan of those cheap-o carving kits you can buy at the grocery store. While a good paring knife will get some broader patterns done, the thin little saws are great at maneuvering around tight corners. If you want to be really fancy, buy yourself a set of wood-carving knives to scrape into the pumpkin flesh (but not all the way through) for this kind of effect:
- Start with the most complicated parts. Go for the smallest, most intricate areas while you still have a lot of pumpkin to work with. It’s much harder to cut out a tiny little square if your canvas is already butchered and flimsy.
- Don’t be afraid to freestyle! Consider these starting points to set your creativity loose — and have fun!
A reminder: each of these illustrations is designed for you to cut out the black space.
Click here if you’d like to download high-res versions of any or all of these. They’ll be available until December 1st.