It’s that time of year: fall is in the air and Halloween is around the bend. It’s spooky season, and that means it’s time to carve pumpkins! Sure, you can wing it, or you can carve like a pro and use a stencil. At The Parent Spot, you’ll find over 700 free stencils to turn your run-of-the-mill gourd into a fantastic creation. From pop culture, cute and easy, traditional, Nick Jr., Disney, Martha Stewart designs, geeky, retro, vintage, constellations, advanced, fantasy, Halloween, cats, and military themes, you’re sure to find your perfect stencil.
What You’ll Need to Carve Your Pumpkin:
- Damp paper towels or damp cloths
- Pen or pencil
- Pumpkin carving tool set or a paring knife
- Ice cream scoop or something similar to scoop the insides (a large, heavy spoon works)
- Newspapers or something similar to line your workspace
- Design stencil
Step 1: Find your favorite pattern/stencil you want to use; print it out.
Step 2: Choose a pumpkin that works for your space, size-wise, and shape for the design you plan to carve. (Tall pumpkins might lend themselves better to faces. For designs with lots of cutouts, go for large, round pumpkins with smooth surfaces. Always look for a pumpkin with a flat bottom that will sit upright.)
Step 3: Line your counter or floor with newspaper or something similar for easy clean up. Put everything you need in your work area.
Step 4: Wipe the pumpkin clean with a damp cloth and dry.
Step 5: Draw a circle for the lid at the top of the pumpkin.
Step 6: Draw an opening on the bottom of your pumpkin if you want to place it over a candle. Be sure to draw the opening large enough so that it will be easy to reach inside and scoop out the contents (seeds and string-goo) when cut. (If you opt not to use a candle, skip this step and remove contents from top hole.)
Step 7: Cut along the drawn lines for the lid and/or bottom opening with a sharp paring knife. When cutting the lid, angle the blade toward the center to create a ledge that supports the lid. If cutting a bottom, cut straight into it.
Step 8: Scoop out the seeds and goo-strings from inside with a large spoon or ice cream scoop. Scrape the inner pulp away until the gourd wall is approximately 1-inch thick.
Step 9: Tape the pattern to the pumpkin in the place you want to see the design.
Step 10: Use a pushpin to poke holes through the paper and into the pumpkin along the design lines, about 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch apart. Be sure to transfer all of the lines in the stencil. Remove the paper and use a pen or dull-point pencil to connect the dots. Save the paper patterns to refer to while carving.
Step 11: Use the paring knife to carve from dot to dot outlining the pattern shapes. Push the cut pieces inside with your fingers (remove pieces when done carving). If a large piece becomes wedged, cut it into smaller pieces.
Step 12: Insert a short candle, votive, or battery-operated light in the pumpkin. (Pro Tip: If candle smoke blackens the lid, cut a chimney hole in the lid to vent the smoke and preserve your design.)
Step 13: You’re an artist! Enjoy your creation.
You’re going to have all those pumpkin seeds you removed, so don’t let them go to waste! Rinse them well, get all the pumpkin bits off. Dry them well (that’s the secret to roasting). Toss them in oil (olive, sesame, coconut, etc.) or melted butter. Then season with your favorites: salt, chili powder, paprika, ranch dressing mix packet, whatever you like. Bake at 350 degrees in a single layer on a baking sheet for about 45 minutes, turning them over every 10 to 15 minutes. Enjoy!