There are three kinds of tips on this page.

  1. VIDEO: How to Apply one of our Pumpkin Carving Tattoos onto a pumpkin.
  2. General Tips for picking the right pumpkin and general carving tips.
  3. Carving Tips for each of our Pumpkin Carving Tattoos. SCROLL DOWN FOR THESE.

Pumpkin Carving Tips and Tricks

Buy the right pumpkin. Here are a number of factors.


It should sit flat on its own. If you don’t choose one that sits flat, you will have to prop it up with small stones or something else underneath it to have it sit just right once you put them on display.


The skin should be smooth. Small bumps (I called them zits) tend to go bad quickly and render the pumpkin soft and useless for carving.


The splines should be as flat as possible since it is much harder to create the pattern and carve it if the splines have a lot of shape.


Choose ones with no visible bruises or soft spots.


I like the ones with a stem still in them. I think they look better.


Shop early to get the best choices.

Pick the right pattern for your pumpkin or pick the right pumpkin for your pattern. Whichever you choose first (pumpkin or pattern), make sure that they match. Carve a tall pattern into a tall pumpkin. Incorporate the shape of the pumpkin into the overall design. Sometimes, a bump on the pumpkin can be a perfect wart on a witch’s nose. Pumpkin WoW designs are printed on tattoos that are 8 inches tall by 8 inches across.

Store the pumpkins in a cool place like a garage or basement. By keeping them cool, they will last for a few months uncut. Obviously, buying them closer to Halloween is better since they will stay fresh better. But don’t buy them too late since the good ones will be gone by then.

About the lid:
Cut the lid on the top. Some people like to cut out the bottom. I find that the pumpkin is not as stable that way so I cut the top off.


Carve a notch in the lid so that you can easily reset it. I cut the notch on the side of the pumpkin that will be in the back. 


Carve the lid in an oval rather than a perfect circle. That allows you to place the lid inside the pumpkin if you need to.



Scoop out the insides and scare little kids with the goo. Some people love this job and some people hate it. Let this be a volunteer job. Save the seeds to bake and eat if you wish. There are many, many scoopers and scrapers on the market. They all work pretty well.

Wear kitchen rubber gloves when scooping and scraping. This keeps your forearm from getting irritated by the pumpkin meat. If you are carving more than one or two pumpkins, you will really appreciate this tip!

Scraping the walls:
Scrape the walls so that they are about ½ to ¾  inch thick. TRUST me on this one; thinner is better! A pumpkin with thinner walls is easier to carve and the light comes through better than one with thick walls. The extra effort and forearm strain is worth it.


Measure the thickness of the walls by using a straightened out paperclip. Stick it in the wall from the inside until you feel it with another finger on the outside of the pumpkin. Once you can feel it on the outside, grip it against the inside wall of the pumpkin and pull it out. The length past your grip is the width of the wall. Poke from the inside so as not to scar the outside skin in a place you may not want to have a hole.


Turn the scraper around in your hand and push down to the bottom of the pumpkin rather than pulling up on the scraper. When you push, you are using your shoulder muscles, not your forearm so you won’t be sore the next day if you carve more than just one or two pumpkins.


It is easy to scrimp on scraping because it is not exactly glamorous and if you are carving more than one or two pumpkins, it is downright boring. Do it well anyway. The thicker the wall, the more likely it is that you will slice a delicate area that you did not mean to. Every minute spent scraping saves 3-4 minutes carving! Have I driven this point home enough?! Scrape! Scrape!  Aim for between ½ inch and ¾ inch.

Wear an apron to protect your clothes.

I hold the pumpkin in my lap while poking the dots and carving. It just works better than carving it while it is on a counter. It makes my neck a little stiff, but I find that I have the most control this way.

Carve the most delicate areas first. As the major sections are carved, the entire pumpkin becomes more fragile and it is easier to mess up and break a major wall. Because of this, I carve the largest sections last as a general rule. I find that I carve the top left corner first and work down and to the right because I am right handed and my arm creates weight on the pumpkin so I need the walls to remain strong to support the weight of my wrist while I carve.

Carve the large areas in sections. Carve a piece from the large area and remove it and then repeat until a large area is complete.

Keep one hand inside the pumpkin pushing against the pressure of the cutting saw to support the thin and delicate walls while carving. This is necessary when doing the complicated and difficult patterns. Just keep your fingers away from the saw and do not cut yourself.

Use the right tool. Carving large areas with the small saw is slow going and carving delicate areas with the large saw makes it likely to saw through a thin wall.

Be gentle when carving the candle area on bottom. It is much too easy to carve a hole right through the bottom of the pumpkin.

If you do not use the pumpkins the day that you carve them and want to preserve them, seal them in plastic wrap and place them in a cool place again. Make sure that they are airtight with all carved parts and the lid and they can store for a few days. You can refresh a carved pumpkin after it has started to wilt by submerging it in the bathtub for about an hour. You can only do this once and you cannot do this after it has gotten pretty bad.

When throwing them out, you can only put about 5 pumpkins in a trash can or they get too heavy for the garbage men to pick up. I learned that lesson the first year and had to smell rotting pumpkins emanating from my garage for another week. Whew! They fit better into the trash can if you slice them up.

 

CARVING TIPS by DESIGN
FAMILY DESIGNS
Cowboy Bandit

Carve the eye first starting with the small details.
Carve the opposite cheek, knot and back of the kerchief next.
Then carve the hat.
Carve the kerchief in sections, removing sections as you work from one side to the other.
Carve his shoulders last

Grimace

Carve the eyebrows first starting with the small details.
Carve the nose next.
Then carve the eyes.
Carve the mouth in sections, removing sections as you work from one side to the other..

Haunting for Fun

Carve the pupils and eyebrows first.
Carve the eyes and mouth next.
Carve the left side starting near the top and removing the top section once you get around his arm. Then continue to the bottom.
Carve the right side in sections.

Heart Hands

Carve the heart first.
Carve the edges of the fingers next.

Innocence

Carve the pupils first.
Carve the eyebrows and eyes next.
Then carve the nose.
Carve the mouth in sections, removing each section as you work from one side to the other..

My Grill

Carve the nose first.
Then carve the eyes.
Carve each tooth, making sure not to floss by slipping and cutting an area between the teeth.

Patch

Carve his open eye first.
Then carve his teeth, mouth, chin, ear and earring.
Next carve his nostril, nose, patch, mustache knot and the end of his bandana.
Lastly, carve his bandana, removing sections as you work from one side to the other.

Playful Flight

Carve the feet first.
Carve the exposed wing tip next.
Then carve out the moon, starting with the bat.
As you carve each bat, pay special care with the wing tips and ears.

Princess Power

It is important to keep this design delicate. Carve on the black tattoo, not just off of the tattoo. If you carve the chin, lips and other parts of her majesty too thick, she looks like she has a fat lip, or a bruised jaw.
Carve her eyes first, starting with her eyelashes.
Then carve her nostril, nose, eye brows, earrings and lips.
Carve her tiara by carving the connections between the jewels first, then carve the jewels and carve the base last.
Carve the hair next, starting with the top sections.
Carve the jaw line last.

Raggedy Rita

Carve Rita’s eyes, nose and mouth first.
Then carve her hair.
Then carve the TOP part of her hat, starting with the small areas on the right.
Carve her cheek and jaw line next.
Lastly, carve the brim of her hat.

T-Rex Roar

Carve his nose first.
Then carve his eyes and the top of his head.
Carve his teeth next, starting with the small independent teeth first.
Lastly, carve his upper lip and the edges of his face.

Unicorn Magic

Carve her pupil first.
Then carve her eyes, ears, nostril and horn.
Carve the top of her face next, followed by her lower jaw, mane and neck.

CLASSIC DESIGNS
Bell Witch

The black areas of the tattoo are designed to be cut through the pumpkin wall. The gray areas are designed to be shaved, (or not cut all the way through the pumpkin wall).
Carve the smallest of the black areas first, working your way to larger and larger areas, removing the pulp as you go.
Then switch to a shaving V, x-acto knife or edging tool and cut along the edge of each of the gray areas, creating a crisp edge that you will need later. Do NOT cut all the way through the wall. There is no particular order for doing this part.
Now, using a clay sculpting loop or other shaving tool, shave away the gray areas of the design. The deeper you shave, the brighter that area will be.
Shave the areas closest to the center of the pattern first, working your way to the edges of the pattern.

Decrepit

The black areas of the tattoo are designed to be cut through the pumpkin wall. The gray areas are designed to be shaved, (or not cut all the way through the pumpkin wall).
Carve the smallest of the black areas first, working your way to larger and larger areas, removing the pulp as you go.
Then switch to a shaving V, x-acto knife or edging tool and cut along the edge of each of the gray areas, creating a crisp edge that you will need later. Do NOT cut all the way through the wall. There is no particular order for doing this part.
Now, using a clay sculpting loop or other shaving tool, shave away the gray areas of the design. The deeper you shave, the brighter that area will be.
Shave the areas closest to the center of the pattern first, working your way to the edges of the pattern.

Egyptian Cotton

The black areas of the tattoo are designed to be cut through the pumpkin wall. The gray areas are designed to be shaved, (or not cut all the way through the pumpkin wall).
Carve the smallest of the black areas first, working your way to larger and larger areas, removing the pulp as you go.
Then switch to a shaving V, x-acto knife or edging tool and cut along the edge of each of the gray areas, creating a crisp edge that you will need later. Do NOT cut all the way through the wall. There is no particular order for doing this part.
Now, using a clay sculpting loop or other shaving tool, shave away the gray areas of the design. The deeper you shave, the brighter that area will be.
Shave the areas closest to the center of the pattern first, working your way to the edges of the pattern.

Frightful Ride

Be patient. Take your time.
First, carve each spike on the fence, just each spike, not the entire area. Do not connect your carving of each individual spike. Do not remove this area until the very end.
Then, carve the holes in the top of the Hearst, the holes in the wheels, and the rest of the tiny and delicate areas around the horse and trees.
Then carve the rectangle sections in the fence, the windows, and each of the larger black areas across the top of the design.
Lastly, carve away the area above the fence spikes.

Grrrr

Carve the small areas around the eyes, nose and teeth first.
Then carve the middle sized areas centered below his eyes and on the top of his nose.
Work your way from the center of the pattern outward.

Ha Ha Ha

Carve the small areas around the eyes first.
Work your way from the center of the pattern outward.

Midnight Playground

Carve around the edges of the dangling branches, the connection between the branch and the bat, the cat’s front legs and tails first. Do not cut them away. Leave them in place. You just need to carve that detail while the wall is still strong.
Carve the areas between the cat’s legs.
Carve the areas around the bats, the branches on the left and the zombie in the ground.
Work your way from the center of the pattern outward.
Carve away the large areas in sections, removing each section as you complete it.

Mountain Music

Carve the eye and teeth first.
Work your way from the center of the pattern outward, carving smaller areas first.

Overheating

Carve the small drips first.
Then carve the flame, and the lower sections.
Carve the large upper part of the candle last.

Paneful

Carve the eyes and small areas around the mice first.
Then, carve around the dangling tails without removing the entire pane.
Carve the small slices, then the larger cutouts in the pumpkins.
Lastly, carve away the window panes, working from bottom left to top right.

Pileup

Carve the teeth first.
Then carve the noses, eye sockets and other small areas.
Carve the large skull areas last, progressing from the inside of the pattern outward to the edge of the design.

The Gathering

This pattern is easier to carve than you might think if you carve it in the right order.
Start by cutting around the dangling inside legs without removing any pumpkin.
Then cut around the dangling outside legs and around the antennae, again without removing the pumpkin.
Only then, begin to carve the small spaces and carve from the inside of the pattern outward removing the pattern as you go.

VILLAFANE DESIGNS
Breaking Out - Carved

  1. Start by carving the eyes, teeth, tongue, the spot above the nose and the mouth first.
  2. Then carve around the dangling creases on the forehead and below the eyes without removing any pumpkin. Just edge the creases, do not remove the areas.
  3. Work your way around the face carving the broken out areas one by one.
  4. Lastly, carve out the rest of the facial sections, removing the areas as you go.


Breaking Out - Shaved

  1. The black areas of the tattoo are designed to be cut through the pumpkin wall. The gray areas are designed to be shaved, (or not cut all the way through the pumpkin wall).
  2. Carve the smallest of the black areas first, working your way to larger and larger areas, removing the pulp as you go.
  3. Then switch to a shaving V, x-acto knife or edging tool and cut along the edge of each of the gray areas, creating a crisp edge that you will need later. Do NOT cut all the way through the wall. There is no particular order for doing this part.
  4. Now, using a clay sculpting loop or other shaving tool, shave away the gray areas of the design. The deeper you shave, the brighter that area will be.
  5. Shave the areas closest to the center of the pattern first, working your way to the edges of the pattern.


Funny Face - Carved

  1. Start by carving the eyes, teeth, tongue, the mouth and the wrinkles around the eyes first.
  2. Then carve around the dangling creases on the forehead and below the eyes without removing any pumpkin. Just edge the creases, do not remove the areas.
  3. Carve away the cheeks.
  4. Lastly, carve the rest of the forehead in sections, removing each section as you work from one side to the other.


Funny Face - Shaved

  1. The black areas of the tattoo are designed to be cut through the pumpkin wall. The gray areas are designed to be shaved, (or not cut all the way through the pumpkin wall).
  2. Carve the smallest of the black areas first, working your way to larger and larger areas, removing the pulp as you go.
  3. Then switch to a shaving V, x-acto knife or edging tool and cut along the edge of each of the gray areas, creating a crisp edge that you will need later. Do NOT cut all the way through the wall. There is no particular order for doing this part.
  4. Now, using a clay sculpting loop or other shaving tool, shave away the gray areas of the design. The deeper you shave, the brighter that area will be.
  5. Shave the areas closest to the center of the pattern first, working your way to the edges of the pattern.


Gridiron Greatness - Carved

  1. Start by carving the eyes, teeth and the wrinkles around the eyes first.
  2. Carve out the rest of the face, generally carving from the inside and working to the edge of the design and carving small areas first.
  3. Carve the mask last, starting from the inside and working outward.


Gridiron Greatness - Shaved

  1. The black areas of the tattoo are designed to be cut through the pumpkin wall. The gray areas are designed to be shaved, (or not cut all the way through the pumpkin wall).
  2. Carve the smallest of the black areas first, working your way to larger and larger areas, removing the pulp as you go.
  3. Then switch to a shaving V, x-acto knife or edging tool and cut along the edge of each of the gray areas, creating a crisp edge that you will need later. Do NOT cut all the way through the wall. There is no particular order for doing this part.
  4. Now, using a clay sculpting loop or other shaving tool, shave away the gray areas of the design. The deeper you shave, the brighter that area will be.
  5. Shave the areas closest to the center of the pattern first, working your way to the edges of the pattern.


Lace Face - Carved

  1. Start by carving the eyes, nose, teeth and the wrinkles around the eyes first.
  2. Then carve the laces next.
  3. Lastly, carve the cheeks, the chin and top of the head.


Lace Face - Shaved

  1. The black areas of the tattoo are designed to be cut through the pumpkin wall. The gray areas are designed to be shaved, (or not cut all the way through the pumpkin wall).
  2. Carve the smallest of the black areas first, working your way to larger and larger areas, removing the pulp as you go.
  3. Then switch to a shaving V, x-acto knife or edging tool and cut along the edge of each of the gray areas, creating a crisp edge that you will need later. Do NOT cut all the way through the wall. There is no particular order for doing this part.
  4. Now, using a clay sculpting loop or other shaving tool, shave away the gray areas of the design. The deeper you shave, the brighter that area will be.
  5. Shave the areas closest to the center of the pattern first, working your way to the edges of the pattern.


Ouch! - Carved

  1. First, decide what you want item you want to stick into his head and cut a hole slightly smaller than what it will take to hold it.
  2. Put the item into the hole you carved and carve the rest of the shattered area around that spot.
  3. Remove the item and carve the rest of pattern, working from the center of the pattern and carving the smaller areas first.
  4. Place the item back into its spot.
  5. Add the seeds with super glue or wires


Ouch! - Shaved

  1. First, decide what you want item you want to stick into his head and cut a hole slightly smaller than what it will take to hold it.
  2. Put the item into the hole you carved and shave the rest of the shattered area around that spot.
  3. Remove the item and carve and shave the rest of pattern, working from the center of the pattern and carving the smaller areas first.
  4. Place the item back into its spot.
  5. Add the seeds with super glue or wires
  6. The black areas of the tattoo are designed to be cut through the pumpkin wall. The gray areas are designed to be shaved, (or not cut all the way through the pumpkin wall).
  7. Carve the smallest of the black areas first, working your way to larger and larger areas, removing the pulp as you go.
  8. Then switch to a shaving V, x-acto knife or edging tool and cut along the edge of each of the gray areas, creating a crisp edge that you will need later. Do NOT cut all the way through the wall. There is no particular order for doing this part.
  9. Now, using a clay sculpting loop or other shaving tool, shave away the gray areas of the design. The deeper you shave, the brighter that area will be.
  10. Shave the areas closest to the center of the pattern first, working your way to the edges of the pattern.


Zipperhead - Carved

  1. Patience, patience, patience.
  2. Start by carving the zipper and the corduroy lines.
  3. Then carve the eyes, zipper pulland the outer edges of the head.
  4. Lastly, carve the teeth and jaw..
  5. eyes, nose, teeth and the wrinkles around the eyes first.
  6. Then carve the laces next.
  7. Lastly, carve the cheeks, the chin and top of the head.


Zipperhead - Shaved

  1. The black areas of the tattoo are designed to be cut through the pumpkin wall. The gray areas are designed to be shaved, (or not cut all the way through the pumpkin wall).
  2. Carve the smallest of the black areas first, working your way to larger and larger areas, removing the pulp as you go.
  3. Then switch to a shaving V, x-acto knife or edging tool and cut along the edge of each of the gray areas, creating a crisp edge that you will need later. Do NOT cut all the way through the wall. There is no particular order for doing this part.
  4. Now, using a clay sculpting loop or other shaving tool, shave away the gray areas of the design. The deeper you shave, the brighter that area will be.
  5. Shave the areas closest to the center of the pattern first, working your way to the edges of the pattern.