Ok, so you’ve just bought the perfect pumpkin (or in our case nine of them. Don’t ask. We have an addiction!). You’ve picked out a spooky pattern to carve, or you’re free-forming it. Now comes the daunting task of making your pumpkin stand out from everyone else’s. How do you impress your kids if you can’t make Olaf look like Olaf? Well, we’re here to help. I may not be great at math, science, logic and reasoning, etc… but if there’s one thing we here at Benevents know how to do, it’s carve that perfect ‘kin!
1.) The first step is obviously gutting the sucker. There are a few ways to go about this. Once you have your top hole cut, (we recommend making a notch on the back side, so that when you go to put it back on, you’ll know which way to insert it, like a puzzle piece.), you’ll need to do my least fave part: scooping out the stringly slimy bits and all the seeds. You can certainly do this the old fashioned way, it’s been tried and true for us. Take all the large chunks out by hand and then hit the sides up with a scraper tool. For the cleanest looking carve, it’s best to thin the walls with the scraper. Be careful not to go too thin though. Thinning will help remove any stringy bits that would otherwise be noticeable through your design. It also gives nice clean edges to your carving.
If you can get your hands on a Pumpkin Gutter, you can literally gut the thing in half the time. They are a long metal beater looking object that fits in to most standard power drills. I don’t recommend letting young kids do this part, but you’ll look awesome using it in front of them. Once done, simply turn the pumpkin upside down over a garbage bin and watch all the guts drop out!
2.) Now that your pumpkin has been cleaned out (and front wiped down), you’re ready to get carving! If you’re making up the design, feel free to ignore this next bit. If you’re using a pre-existing pattern, there are once again several options. Some pumpkin carving tool sets come with a book of patterns. With these, we recommend the long arduous task of pin the pattern to the pumpkin and using a push pin to poke along the lines of the pattern. Then you can remove the paper and try to follow those tiny little holes. We hate this method. We don’t ever do it. What do we do? Well first, we either purchase insanely awesome patterns from our fave website: Zombie Pumpkins or make our own in Photoshop. From there we print the pattern onto Stick n Carve water soluble transfer paper. This is available for purchase on the ZP website. This paper sticks to your pumpkin like a giant sticker. It allows you to carve directly through the paper and pumpkin. Once done, you simply peel off the paper and whatever doesn’t come off dissolves in water. If you can’t get your hands on our personal fave, you can go to our back-up, which is widely available: carbon copy paper. You can get it at an office supply store. Simply tape the paper to your pumpkin and then tape the pattern you’re using on top of it. Trace along the pattern with a pencil and the carbon copy paper will leave a mark of the pattern on the pumpkin waiting to be carved. It’s still an annoying step, but not as much so as the push pins. We seriously recommend the Stick n Carve. It’s a game changer.
3.) There are lots of tools out there for carving and we certainly use a variety of them. Some are the plastic Pumpkin Master tools that almost all stores carry this time of year. If your design is slightly more intricate, we love our Zombie Pumpkins Pro carving knife with wrench and interchangeable blades. Have we mentioned how much we love ZP? In the end we always use a bit of all the various tools though. For an in-depth look at what all these tools look like and to see some of our past carvings, watch the video at the end of this post.
4.) Once your hard work is done, the last thing you want is for it to rot before the big day. The best advice we can give is to not only store your pumpkin in a cool area (but not where those evil squirrels can get at it), but also cover all carved areas in some petroleum jelly. This will help keep it fresh longer. Now you’re done! Was it worth all that effort? Well, you could carve the most basic pumpkin ever, or you could do this:
Rachel Brown – Creative Director
Mike Leinwand – Operations Director