Halloween: how to carve a pumpkin

Halloween: how to carve a pumpkin


With the arrival of Halloween it's time to start thinking about the typical lantern made from a pumpkin, a practice that has become quite common, as the carved pumpkins begin to appear on the balconies and windowsills of the houses from all over the world, including Italy. The Halloween pumpkin, or the Jack o 'lantern, is one of the most powerful and recognizable icons linked to the imagery of this anniversary, now widely adopted by us Italians as a result of countless representations of pop culture through various media, such as films, tv series, comics, cartoons and video games.

Whether it's turnips or pumpkins, the purpose of the lanterns remains the same: to keep the restless spirits away they wander through this magical night.

Traditionally these lanterns are carved in order to reproduce frightening or grotesque faces, in order to effectively scare both spirits and humans; over the years, however, we have seen lanterns decorated and carved in the most creative and spectacular ways and which have gradually abandoned the horror theme to embrace the most disparate subjects: like all creative works, here too the only real limit is the imagination and passions of who will carve the pumpkin.

If you are curious to try your hand at this activity you just need to continue reading this article to find out everything you need to know to create your own Jack o 'lantern.

Before you start…

For several years now, this kind of pumpkins have been readily available close to the holidays: you can in fact find them practically everywhere, from nurseries to fruit and vegetable shops and even in supermarkets. For beginners, we recommend choosing medium / large pumpkins, this will make cleaning and carving easier than smaller ones.

The tools of the trade

Creating your lantern will require a number of different tools, which will serve different purposes. For simpler creations it is possible to use knives and spoons of different sizes, however on the market there are sets of tools specially designed for this purpose and which will greatly facilitate the most insidious steps.

The good kit for carving must contain: serrated blades of different sizes, an awl and a notched spoon tool. To these three basic tools can also be added other types of carving blades and tools for carving the skin of the pumpkin. Online and in stores you can find different kits for sale, our advice is to avoid small tools, opting instead for solid tools, which can also go in the dishwasher and if the kit also includes a case or case even better!

An example of a carving kit is the following (available by clicking here), which contains 7 different tools suitable for the different phases of pumpkin processing (the kit includes two serrated blades of different sizes, notched spoon, awl and three different engraving tools). The set is in stainless steel (blades) and in propylene (handle and grip).

In addition to the tools for carving, you will also need other useful objects and materials:

pen or marker, film from food or a waxed tablecloth, disposable gloves, kitchen paper, waste container, non-colored bleach or disinfectant, tealight candles (Amazon link)

The pattern

Our lantern can be carved with the subject you prefer, this can be done freehand (if you are more artistic and brave) or you can use one of the many patterns on the internet. Simply search on any search engine for the words "pumpkin pattern", "pumpkin carving" or "pumpkin pattern of the subject you prefer" to find an avalanche of ideas and suggestions to choose from. The design will then be printed in an appropriate size so that it can fit with the pumpkin that will be carved.

Let's create our own Pumpkin

Finally the time has come to get to work on the pumpkin!

Let's start by preparing our work surface, covering it with plenty of kitchen film or a waxed tablecloth, keeping all the tools within reach and wearing disposable gloves.

To create the our pumpkin we will have to perform five steps:

opening the shell, internal cleaning, treatment of the internal walls, tracing the pattern, carving

Opening the shell

The first of the steps will serve both to clean the inside the pumpkin, which creates the main opening of the lantern, from which we can then insert our candle. We will not simply have to dig a hole in the upper part, what we want is to obtain a cap that can open and close our Jack o 'lantern.

To obtain our cap we need to make a circle around the stem of the pumpkin. The size of the diameter of the circle must allow us to comfortably insert the arm to be able to clean the inside of the pumpkin and, at a later time, to be able to position the candle that will illuminate the lantern.

To help you obtain a circle regular you can use a bowl or lid of suitable size, tracing the edge on the surface of the pumpkin.

With a knife, or one of the serrated blades from our carving kit, we begin to carve in the cap. The blade must insert itself into the pumpkin at an angle of about 45 ° and then follow the outline traced.

Internal cleaning

Once our cap is lifted we must start cleaning the interior of what will become a beautiful lantern. This phase is the most messy and tedious of all creation and will surely put a strain on people who don't like to put their hands in contact with wet and sticky surfaces (that's why we wear gloves).

Arm yourself with a notched spoon and a lot of patience and then start removing the filaments of pulp and seeds, which you will gradually put into the waste container. Once the filaments and seeds have been removed, continue scraping the pulp from the walls: your pumpkin will be ready when you have dug out all the pulp from the latter.

Treatment of the internal walls

If you prepare your lantern the day before Halloween, or the day itself you can also skip this step, otherwise you will have to continue reading our instructions. Since Halloween pumpkins are made from organic compounds, after a short time they will tend to develop mold and bad smells. To mitigate this thing and increase the conservation of our natural lantern it will be necessary to treat the inside of the fruit with bleach or disinfectant, in order to break down the bacterial and microbial load.

After cleaning the inside of the pumpkin, you must therefore pass it with a good dose of bleach, this step in addition to preserving the lantern for a few days will whiten the walls of the same, thus allowing the light of the candle to reflect more and be even brighter.

Tracing the pattern

The time has come to unleash your creativity and start shaping our lantern. As previously mentioned this can be done freehand, by tracing the design on the rind of our vegetable, or using a design to be used as a guide.

If you are using a pattern, continue in this way. Place the design on the front of the lantern, securing it with adhesive tape (you will need to use plenty of it, as the adhesive tape glue will tend not to stick for a long time). Once fixed, take the awl and start tracing the parts of the design to be carved (eyes, mouth, nose, etc ...).

In this way you will transfer the design onto the skin of the pumpkin, going to create a guide for your blades. To facilitate the next step, we recommend tracing the design as densely as possible.


We have thus reached the final stage of our work. At this point, using the serrated blade or a knife, go to subtract the parts of the pumpkin that you have traced with the awl. Depending on the complexity of the design chosen, this phase may require a little more attention, especially in the smaller and thinner parts, however at this point you will be very close to the goal.

We recommend to carve the smaller parts first and then devote himself to the larger carvings. If everything went well at this point your carved pumpkin is ready to be lit, all you have to do is take a candle and insert it and light it.

Close the cap and enjoy the fruit of your hard work. Happy Halloween!

All about Halloween

If you are looking for more ideas on how to celebrate the scariest night of the year take a look at our guides, you will surely find ideas and suggestions for arrive prepared at the top for this anniversary: ​​

Halloween 2021 | The best Halloween tech gadgets 2021 | The best Halloween box games 2021 | The best accessories to decorate the house Halloween 2021 | The best Blu-Ray Halloween movies: we make decorated cookies

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