Pumpkin Carving Tools and Ideas

The shape and thickness of the pumpkin matters too. Neill, who won Season 4 of Food Network’s “Halloween Wars” with his intricate pumpkin displays, said the best pumpkins to carve are Wolf pumpkins and Howden pumpkins. He personally prefers “thick-skinned pumpkins” so he can carve more intricate designs and manipulate interior walls. For less detailed jack-o’-lantern style pumpkins, he recommended “lighter” pumpkins with “thinner skin thickness.” A good rule of thumb, he said, is that “the thickness of the rod equals the thickness of the skin.”

Marc Evan, co-founder of Maniac Pumpkin Carvers, also prefers to use thicker pumpkins when carving more detailed designs. Thinner pumpkins, he explained, are more difficult to handle, and light often ends up passing through them where it doesn’t want it to. However, for beginners working with simpler designs, he said pumpkins with thinner skins might be better as it takes less effort to carve them. “[Beginners] maybe not want to go with the thickest pumpkin because that can be frustrating, ”he noted.

2. Prepare your workstation

Pumpkin carving can get very, very messy. Before donating a knife, you should prepare your workstation so that it is easier to clean after your carving is finished. Neill suggested lining the floor with old newspapers, if you have any. “Whatever you have [that’s] easier “will work,” he said. Once you have completed the evisceration process, you can simply drop them directly on the floor for easy cleanup later.

VICMORE plastic protective cover

Alternatively, Neill said a plastic drop cloth works as well. This one measures 9ft by 12ft to cover a large floor area and can be recycled when finished.

PEIPU Nitrile Vinyl Blend Disposable Gloves

During the “slippery” parts of the process, namely removing the pumpkin pulp, Neill said it’s safer to wear a pair of gloves. He likes to wear nitrile gloves or rubber gloves while he carves because he doesn’t want his hand to accidentally slip on the blade. “You have to be careful, a lot of injuries can occur from the first few minutes,” he warned.

These latex-free nitrile vinyl blend gloves give your hands a firm grip, depending on the brand. They come in a pack of 100 and you can choose from Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large sizes.

3. Cut a cover (ideally not from the top)

To access the inside of the pumpkin, you will need to cut out a cover large enough to hold your hand and any tools you might use. According to Neill, the lid should be at least 5 inches in diameter, but you can make it even larger if you need more room to work.

Evan also noted that it was important to make sure the cover came out in one piece – when cutting, he recommended running the knife around the corners a few more times. “Sometimes it looks like you’ve made the cut all around, but inside the thicker parts of the pumpkin are still attached,” he warned.

Although people traditionally cut off the top of the pumpkin near the stem, Neill advises against doing so. “If you cut off the top of the pumpkin, they don’t last long at all,” he explained. “They will dry out.” Some people also cut from the bottom, but, according to Evan, this can make the pumpkin dry out and leak all over. “If you open it from the bottom, the pumpkins give off so much moisture,” he noted.

YEAHOME staple gun for upholstery

Both experts recommend cutting into the bottom back of the pumpkin. When Neill cuts the back of the pumpkin, he usually makes an angled square cut “so it won’t fall off” and uses toothpicks to hold the wedge in place when he’s finished carving. Evan uses either a stapler or thumb tacks to secure the rectangular corner after he’s finished cleaning and carving his pumpkin. If you are in favor of the staple gun option, this one from YEAHOME can handle four types of staples and can be used for various types of projects including upholstery and crafts.

Wüsthof Gourmet utility knife

For the process of cutting the lid, a kitchen knife should suffice. However, Neill said that you shouldn’t use a knife with a blade longer than 5 or 6 inches. “I want to be able to stay in control,” he explained. This Wüsthof knife is compact at just 4.5 inches long and can be used in the kitchen for slicing and peeling once you’re done carving.

4. Remove the entrails from the pumpkin

If the area where you are doing your carving is properly prepared, you don’t have to worry about doing a mess when removing the innards from your pumpkin. In fact, Neill recommended dropping them straight to the floor and dealing with the mess once you’re done.

Pumpkin Masters Cutting Tool

For the bowel removal process, Neill said you can use several common household items, including a ladle, a “very, very large spoon” and an old CD (his personal preference). If you’re serious about your fall activities, he also said that the Pumpkin Masters gutting tool “worked quite well” and was relatively solid.

Hyde & EEK! 9 Tool Pumpkin Carving Kit

Evan also likes the smooth shovels that come in most Halloween sculpture kits. He especially prefers smooth shovels over ones with jagged edges, as he deliberately manipulates the thickness of the pumpkin walls, and a jagged edge can get in the way. Just be sure to remove all of the innards: According to Evan, those stringy innards “help break down the pumpkin faster.”

5. Describe and sculpt your design

Before making any changes to your pumpkin, trace your design onto its surface so that mistakes are not permanent. Neill likes to do this part of the process with a Sharpie, and when he finishes his drawing he will wipe off any visible markers with rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball. Evan said a regular ballpoint pen works too, and it should wash your pumpkin easily with a simple kitchen sponge.

Pumpkin Masters Pumpkin Carving Kit

Once your design is to your liking, it’s time to cut. While a serrated knife can saw through the skin of the pumpkin, Neill said a carving kit is a fun alternative if you’re just looking to have fun or want to make pumpkin carving a family activity. If you go this route, he suggests buying two kits, just in case some of the tools in the first kit break – most of the tools in these kits are plastic, so they aren’t as durable as the craft tools made from plastic. metal. This one from Pumpkin Masters comes with several useful tools, including three saws, a shovel, a poker, and a pattern book.

Classic blades X-ACTO # 11

For a more complex carving, Neill likes to use an X-ACTO knife with a # 11 blade. According to Neill, you shouldn’t cut more than a sixteenth of an inch for more intricate designs.

Speedball Linoleum Cutter

When handling small details and carving, Neill suggests using the Speedball Linoleum Cutter, which comes with five different carving tips. Evan, whose company specializes in carved pumpkin designs, said that if you want to experiment with carving, you can also add details to your traditional Jack-o’-lantern to play with words and monograms. He suggested digging no deeper than a quarter of an inch thick to start – you can always cut deeper if needed, but you can’t replace parts of the pumpkin once they’ve been removed. . For this more delicate process, he recommended using art tools like a clay loop tool or the aforementioned linoleum cutter.

6. Thin the inner and outer walls of the pumpkin

This is an optional step in the pumpkin carving process. However, it can add depth and design to your pumpkin if you plan to light it up with a candle or flashlight.

“If you’re carving a photo-like pattern or sculpture, you want to take a flat ribbon loop tool (a pottery tool)… and you can basically cut out on the inside to make it thinner,” Neill explained. By thinning the inside of the pumpkin only in certain areas, you can manipulate the light and shadows to work with your design. If you design your pumpkin to look like a person’s face, for example, you can narrow the wall where their nose is located so that it looks more realistic when your light is on inside. pumpkin. Evan also noted that you can scratch the skin from the outside “where you want it to be reflective” and “where you want things to be lighter”. If you are scratching the outside and it is still not clear enough, then you can try scratching the same area on the inside and continue thinning it until it is the right transparency.

Kemper Ribbon Tool Carving Set

On the outside of the pumpkin, you can also use a loop tool to scrape the area where you want the pumpkin to be white. For this process, be sure to use a flat top loop tool – both sculptors we spoke to recommended Kemper for “standard” sculpting tools that are “quite affordable”.

LED Halloween Pumpkin Lights

Although Evan uses particularly bright LED lights to shine through the walls of his pumpkins, he said that anyone who carves a regular Jack-o ‘lantern should be able to use lights specifically designed for this purchase. These lights come in a pack of four and you can use the remote to put them on a timer, dim or brighten them, and turn them on and off.

7. Keep your pumpkin out of the sun

Sunlight and pumpkins don’t mix well, so be sure to put your pumpkin out of direct sunlight. “Keeping it from getting hot and dry is the real answer,” he explained. If your pumpkin dries up, however, all hope is not lost: soaking the pumpkin in cold water for a few hours should rehydrate it. However, “it won’t help if [your pumpkins] look like fries, ”said Neill.

Krylon Clear Acrylic Spray

To prevent mold build-up, Neill also said that you can spray the inside of the pumpkin with bleach cleaning spray, although this will prevent you from composting the pumpkin. You can also rub petroleum jelly or spray a clear acrylic spray on your sculptures “to seal the spot where you cut”, as both materials are resistant to moisture.

Ultimately, Evan said the most important thing to accept is that pumpkin carvings are a “fleeting art form.” “No matter what you do, it’s unpredictable and perishable,” he noted.

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