Pumpkin Carving, Part 7: This Year’s Carves

UPDATE September 19, 2015: Want to learn how to carve pumpkins like these? I’m creating a set of step-by-step video tutorials. Check out Carve Awesome Pumpkins for more info!


Welcome to seventh and final post of my Carving Pumpkins series for 2012.  I can’t believe Halloween is over already.  Sometimes I wonder why I put so many hours into creating these pumpkins for just a few hours of display one night of the year. Then I look at them all lit up and smile. 🙂

This week I’m just going to post pictures of the pumpkins I’ve carved this year. Some you’ve already seen, some you haven’t. I did take pictures of my progress while carving the real pumpkins, but I’ll save them for a How-To/Tips post for next Halloween. They probably won’t do you any good now.

In case you missed any of my previous posts in this series:

Foam Pumpkins for 2012

 YA Book Covers

Paper Towns Pumpkin Divergent Pumpkin Divergent pumpkin

These Paper Towns and Divergent patterns were created by Kate Hart and are available for free download. (Yes, I carved 2 different Divergent pumpkins.)  All 3 of these pumpkins were given away as part of contests.


Beautiful Creatures Pumpkin

This pumpkin was also given away as part of a contest. I created the pattern and it’s available for free download on my FREEBIES page.

Harry Potter

 Dumbledore Pumpkin

Both of these patterns are from Stoneykins.  The Harry Potter pattern is free for download, and the Dumbledore pattern must be purchased.

Hunger Games

My favorite carve of the season! This is the most intricate pattern I’ve carved so far, but the effort was so worth it.  Pattern from Stoneykins.

You Can’t See Me

You Can't See Me pumpkin

Although I carve mostly for me, I try to do at least one pumpkin for everyone in my family each year.  (Sadly, my husband got left out this year because I ran out of time, but he can appreciate the Hunger Games and Harry Potter pumpkins. 😉 )

This one I did for my son, who is a fan of WWE Wrestler John Cena.  “You Can’t See Me” is Cena’s catch phrase and this is the logo on the hat he wears.

I created the pattern by hand. If I had a digital file for it, I would share it for free download. It’s a simple pattern to make yourself, though. You can find an image of the logo on the internet to use as a basis for the pattern.  Cut out the letters and shade the circle crossing out the “C”.

Vampire Diaries

I’m a huge fan of Damon on Vampire Diaries (I’ve loved Ian Somerhalder for a long time…since he was a “freak of the week” on Smallville way back in Season 1 or 2) and really wanted to carve a Damon pumpkin last year but couldn’t find any patterns.

So I was really excited when I saw that Ultimate Pumpkin Stencils added a Vampire Diaries set to their store this year!


 Real Pumpkins for 2012


Elmo Pumpkin

This is the pumpkin I did for my daughter who is 2.  She would have loved a Caillou pumpkin, but I couldn’t find a pattern and didn’t have the time/energy to make my own.  Elmo was the next best thing. 🙂

This pattern is from Ultimate Pumpkin Stencils’ Sesame Street set. The characters are also available separately.

General Halloween

Trick or Treat pumpkin

Usually one of the real pumpkins I carve has something that represents the year for our family.  For example, last year I did a Mickey and Minnie pumpkin because we took the kids to Disney for the first time.  This year, I couldn’t think of anything that really symbolized “2012” for us, so I went with a generic Halloween pattern. I’m really pleased with how it came out.

The pattern is from Stoneykins, and warning: I did leave off part of the pattern to make it more family-friendly. 😉

Breaking Dawn Part II

Breaking Dawn Part II pumpkin

I have carved a Twilight pumpkin every year since 2008. I have done a pumpkin for the movie poster of each Twilight movie, but when I saw the poster for Breaking Dawn Part II, I was too busy laughing to try to make a pattern from it.  (Seriously, what were they thinking?!)

Still, the night before Halloween I was feeling sad that I wouldn’t have a Twilight pumpkin this year.  Then I saw this pumpkin from the Miller Tree Inn and was inspired to carve one myself.

(Side note: in less than 2 weeks I’m going to visit a friend in Seattle for the Breaking Dawn Part II premiere. We’ll be spending one night in Forks, staying at the Miller Tree Inn aka “the Cullen House.” Very excited!)


The Best Part of Pumpkin Carving!

Okay, here’s the REAL reason I carve real pumpkins! 😉

I made two batches:

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds with Sugar and Spice (very yummy, but too sweet. Cut down the sugar.)

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds (yummy!)



Road Trip Wednesday: Scary Books & Movies

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered.

This Week’s Topic: Halloween! What’s your favorite scary book or movie?

I don’t do scary. Nope. Not at all.

The last scary books I read?

I think I was in junior high. Maybe even elementary school. And even though that was ages ago, looking them up on Amazon and seeing the book covers again sent chills down my spine and I got goosebumps. For realz.

The last scary movie I watched?  What Lies Beneath, which I dragged my husband to see with me in theatres, because it starred Harrison Ford. Yeah…never again.  *shudders*
It’s kind of ironic given that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  The things I really like about Halloween are the pumpkins (carving and eating), the costumes, walking around the neighborhood in the dark, the crisp fall air.

And the candy. Definitely the candy.



Pumpkin Carving Part 2: Young Adult Themed Patterns

Divergent Pumpkin

UPDATE September 19, 2015: Want to learn how to carve pumpkins like these? I’m creating a set of step-by-step video tutorials. Check out Carve Awesome Pumpkins for more info!


Welcome to week 2 of my Pumpkin Carving series.  Last week, I shared tips for carving great pumpkins.  This week, I’m sharing some pumpkin carving patterns based on young adult book covers and characters.

But First — TWO Contests!

 Win a pumpkin carved with your choice of book cover! Contest ends October 15, 2012.

If you came here from Novel Novice to enter for the Paper Towns pumpkin or Divergent pumpkin, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post!

Pumpkins I’ve Carved

FREE Pumpkin Patterns

A friend asked about a pumpkin carving pattern featuring the Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  I couldn’t find one, so I made one myself. The lettering on the book is beautiful!  You can see a pumpkin carved with it a above.  I’m offering the pattern FREE from my blog.   Enjoy!

I found a great collection of patterns on Kate Hart’s blog.  She has a total of 20 book cover patterns available for FREE.  Some of the patterns include:

divergent pumpkin


hush hush pumpkin

Hush Hush

anna and the french kiss pumpkin

Anna and the French Kiss

hourglass pumpkin

















I think that Anna and the French Kiss pumpkin is calling my name… 😉


Vampire Diaries Pumpkin Carving Patterns

I’m updating this blog post to add these new Vampire Diaries patterns from Ultimate Pumpkin Stencils:

I’ve wanted a Damon pumpkin for a while now. It’s definitely on my carving list!


Check Out This Carving Master!

Alex the Pumpkin Geek is a professional pumpkin carver. He does some really awesome work — both in the carving and in the creation of the patterns.  If you’re interested in having Alex carve you a pumpkin, you can contact him through his website.

Next Week?

Part 3 of my Pumpkin Carving series will feature Twilight pumpkins. Check back next Sunday!

How to Carve Great Pumpkins

UPDATE September 19, 2015: Want to learn how to carve pumpkins like these? I’m creating a set of step-by-step video tutorials. Check out Carve Awesome Pumpkins for more info!


pumpkin carving

I carve pumpkins with a baby on my back!

I love Halloween.  One of my favorite parts is carving pumpkins.  This is the first of several pumpkin carving posts.  Today, I’ll talk about the tools that make carving easier along with some tips I’ve learned along the way.

The next few weeks I’ll share pumpkins I’ve carved or other have carved that feature YA books or movies and also how to get the patterns so you can carve them too.

Finally, on October 28, I’ll share photos of the pumpkins I carve this year. And maybe my entire collection.

You might be thinking, “But it’s only September. Isn’t that way too early to think about pumpkin carving?”

carved pumpkin

Cut-out carving pattern
Pattern from Stoneykins

It’s never too early to think about carving pumpkins! 😀

Since discovering carvable, foam pumpkins, I start carving in September. Sometimes earlier. Many carvers stock up on the foam pumpkins during the Halloween season so they can carve all year long.

When I carve real pumpkins, I usually do that the day of or the day before Halloween. But I still take the time to think about the patterns I’ll carve since I need to know what size pumpkin to buy.

Get a Pumpkin Carving Pattern

Pumpkin Masters pattern book

Pumpkin Masters pattern books available in craft stores

The first thing you need to do, if you want to create a fantastic-looking pumpkin, is print a pattern to follow. You can find some patterns in booklets at craft stores.

There are two types of patterns: cut-outs and shaded. In a cut-out pattern, all parts of the pattern are completely removed from the pumpkin. In general, cut-out patterns are easier than shaded patterns, but they do not have as much detail. In a shaded pattern, there are pieces that are completely removed from the pumpkin and also pieces that are just shaved. It will take more time and patience to do a shaded pattern, but your efforts will be rewarded. Shaded patterns look more dimensional and detailed in the finished product.

If you are artistically inclined, you can create your own patterns, but anything beyond a simple picture will require practice. There are also tutorials online for using photo editing software to manipulate images into patterns. One such tutorial is found at www.pumpkinwizard.com

carved pumpkin

Shaded carving pattern
Pattern by Stoneykins


Creating great-looking carving patterns is an art.  The fastest and easiest way to get a pattern is to download it from the internet. There are many sites to choose from, and most them work the same way: certain patterns that are free to download and the rest you need to pay for by either purchasing them separately or purchasing a membership to the website.

Some of the most popular websites include:

 Choose Your Pumpkin

You’ll have to decide if you want to carve real pumpkins or foam pumpkins.  There’s nothing quite like carving a real pumpkin, but there’s something to be said about not having to watch all your hard work shrivel up and get moldy in just a few days.

You can purchase foam pumpkins in just about any big-box craft store.  Even Target now carries carveable pumpkins. There are pros and cons to both real and foam pumpkins, and which brand of foam pumpkin you use. A Google search will help you decide which is right for you.

When I carve foam, I use the ones sold at Michaels. I’ve never tried the Funkins brand or the brand Target sells.

 Gather Your Tools — Real Pumpkins

Now that you’ve got your pattern, you need the right tools. The tools you’ll need will depend on not only the type of pattern you’ve chosen but also the type of pumpkin you’re using.

pumpkin shaving tools

For shaded patterns on real pumpkins, you’ll need a set of wood carving tools.


For real pumpkins, you’ll want a good set of pumpkin saws like the ones shown above by Pumpkin Masters (available at craft stores).

For shaving on real pumpkins, you’ll want a set of wood carving tools or a Speedball. Both are available at craft stores.


Gather Your Tools — Foam Pumpkins

pumpkin hot carving tool

A hot knife can be used on a foam pumpkin for cut outs.


For simple cut-out patterns, you can use a hot knife (left) to carve foam pumpkins.  Hot knives are easy to use so they require less practice before you can get started. They’re also inexpensive, and you can buy one with a 40% or 50% off coupon that are always available from craft stores.


pumpkin carving dremel

A dremel tool takes more practice, but it’s also used for shaded patterns.

Alternatively, you can use a Dremel(right). There are a variety of models, from battery-powered to plug-in, ranging in price from $25 to over $100.  In my experience, the battery-powered models are not useful for carving pumpkins.

For cutting, you’ll want a small drill bit, such as a 3/64 inch bit.

If your pattern has shading, your best tool for the job will be the Dremel and a variety bits:

  • #7134 5/64″ Diamond Wheel Point Bit
  • #106 and #107 Engraving Bit
  • Diamond Burr Bits in a variety of sizes
  • Stone Sanding Bits in a variety of sizes

General Carving Tips

Now that you’ve got your pattern, your pumpkin, and your tools, here’s some tips to help make your carving a success.

  • Practice, practice, practice!If you’re able to, buy at least one extra pumpkin that you can practice with.

    new moon edward pumpkin

    Buy an extra pumpkin to practice on.

  • Size matters! Make sure your pattern will fit on your pumpkin. You can re-print the pattern in the size you need, but remember that the smaller you make the pattern, the more difficult it will be to carve.
  • Think before cutting! Work your pattern from the middle out to the sides. Try to leave the largest cut-outs for last. It will give your pumpkin more stability as you work.
  • Break it up! Large pieces do not need to be cut out in one chunk.
  • Don’t judge how your pumpkin will look until you’ve put a light inside and look at it in a dark room. You’ll be surprised!
  • When shaving, do a little bit at a time. You can always shave deep afterwards, but you can’t un-shave if you’ve gone too far! If the sections aren’t as bright as you’d like, shave a little deeper.
  • Shade first or cut first? It’s a personal preference. Try it both ways on your practice pumpkin and see what you like.
  • Print two copies of your pattern so you have one to refer to while you tear up the one on the pumpkin as you carve.

Carving Tips — Using Real Pumpkins

  • Saral Transfer Paper

    Saral Transfer Paper

    Use Saral Transfer Paper to draw your pattern on the pumpkin.

  • Use an up-and-down sawing motion, not a slicing motion like a knife. Do not try to twist the saw in the pumpkin, or it will break. Remove the saw completely and re-insert it in the direction you want to go.
  • When cutting the lid, hold the saw at an angle towards the center of the pumpkin. This creates a “ledge” that prevents the lid from falling in.
  • Cut an outward notch in the lid on the back of the pumpkin. This will make it easier to put the lid back on the right way.
  • Remove all of the seeds and “guts” and then scrape down the sides of the pumpkin to about ½”-1” thick. You can use a spoon, clay ribbon tool, or the scooper that comes in some packs of pumpkin saws (see above photo)
  • If you’ll be using a candle inside the pumpkin, cut a small hole in the lid to let smoke out.
  • Search the internet to learn how to make your pumpkins last longer, if you want to carve before Halloween.

Carving Tips — Using Foam Pumpkins

  • Use washable glue to adhere your pattern. Let it dry overnight. It’ll be easy to remove with a rinse when you’re done.
  • NEVER use a candle in a foam pumpkin. Only use a battery-powered or plug-in light.

    C9 Christmas Lights

    C9 Christmas Lights. Use clear bulbs.

  • If you’ll have several pumpkins to light, consider using a strand of C9 Christmas bulbs. Use 1-3 bulbs per pumpkin, depending on the look you want.
  • Carving fake pumpkins results in a LOT of dust. You’ll want to do this in a garage, basement, or outside, if possible. Or at the least, some room that is easy to clean.
  • Safety goggles and a dust mask are a good idea. I can tell you from experience that pumpkin dust in the eye is NOT pleasant.
  • A large apron – like you might find at a hairdresser’s – is another good idea. Or at least wear clothes that you won’t mind taking off and throwing in the wash afterwards.

    Clip Light

    Clip Light for individual pumpkins. Available at Dollar Tree stores or online.

  • Cut a 4” hole in the bottom of the pumpkin, instead of a lid in the top like a real pumpkin. Or cut a small hole in the back if you plan to use a clip-in light.
  • Choose the best size bit for the shape you are working with.
  • Double-check your work by putting a light in the pumpkin and viewing it in a dark room.
  • When you are happy with the depth of your shading, smooth it out with the sanding stones on a low speed.
  • Don’t get discouraged! It takes practice but you’ll get the hang of it quickly. The difference between my first fake pumpkin and my third was astonishing!


I hope these tips are enough to get you started. The Stoneykins website has some really great tutorials with photos.  That’s where I learned how to carve foam pumpkins.

 Next week?

I’ll share some links to patterns inspired by young adult books.

Are you planning to carve any pumpkins this year? Have you carved foam

pumpkins before? Do you prefer the real ones?