If it turned out awful, I’d just dump it and never speak of it again. I’d be carving when the children were in bed so there’d be no witnesses to remind me of my failed attempts!
Two years ago I decided to up my game; I was carving an Elmo pumpkin while watching T.V. It just happened to be Love/Hate with the storyline about Elmo allegedly telling the authorities about Nidge. For the craic I decided to carve a little extra on my pumpkin & posted it to social media. I couldn’t believe it when I woke the next morning to see it’d taken off and was reposted across tonnes of pages including 98FM, FM104, BreakingNews.ie, I’d even made it onto “18 of the Greatest Halloween Pumpkins Ever Carved” by the Journal.ie/The Daily Edge!
I thought it was hilarious and it gave me the push to try other designs after all it didn’t turn out as bad I thought it would. It really doesn’t have to take that long to carve a pumpkin, sure who has time to be spending hours? I know with 5 little ones I certainly don’t. From experience I’ve learned a few tricks that’ll not only save you time but a whole lot of energy and your sanity. If you stick to the advice below I guarantee you’ll have a masterpiece on your hands or your money back.* *monopoly money will be given back!*
How to Carve a Pumpkin Like a Pro:
Pick a fresh pumpkin with a blemish free side for carving and ensure the skin is intact with no dents or holes. Print a stencil you like from Google/Pinterest, I find the best way to do this is print screen & paste to a Word document that way you can gauge and adjust the size you need for your pumpkin.
- Silhouettes are by far the easiest and most striking images when carved.
- Wash your pumpkin before carving, I use baby wipes as I’ve no energy to fill a sink of soapy water just for a pumpkin!
- Cut off the top/lid using a knife I use a non serrated knife at a 45° angle so there is a ledge for the lid to sit on.
- Scoop out the insides using a large spoon just be careful not to scoop the flesh too close to the skin.
- Cut off the excess page from your stencil and tape to your pumpkin, ordinary tape will do. I just tape the top and leave the rest loose so I can bend it around the curvature of the pumpkin as I trace over it.
- Otherwise you’ll spend ages getting it completely taped on.
- Trace over your stencil using a pen as a pencil can tear the page and mark the skin of your pumpkin.
- Don’t bother with those pumpkin carving kits as it’s extremely difficult to get any precise incisions with them; again I’m all about the easy life. I use little blades like a pencil with a blade as the nib, you’ll find a packet of them in Dealz for €1.49 and a packet of tiny screwdrivers same place same price.
- Remove your stencil and retrace around the pattern on your pumpkin using your blade. Tip: Hold the blade at an angle so the tip goes under the area of skin you are removing.
- If you are carving a circle for an eye hold your blade still and move the pumpkin in a circular motion.
- If you are carving a larger circle/curve move both the pumpkin and the blade as it’ll be much easier to achieve a circular cut.
- Once you’ve gone around all areas with your blade using the smallest screwdriver peal back the skin. If it’s a large area of skin to be removes start by taking the edge up with the small screwdriver & move onto a large screwdriver pushing & swiping it from side to side lifting just the skin.
- Once carved if you have any gouges or rough looking carved areas simply smooth over with your finger, it’s very forgiving like that!
- Don’t panic, it looks much better with a light inside. I’ve often thought I’d made a mess of it only to be nicely surprised when I put in a candle.
- Use a candle, led light or even a torch for the inside. If using a candle & you want to put the lid back on you’ll need to cut a hole for a chimney in the back.
- To preserve your pumpkin spray/wash with bleach and water solution as it’s bacteria that makes them mould.
- You can rub all carved areas with Vaseline or oil to stop the air drying it out.
- If your pumpkin does start to dry out simply steep in water carved side down for anything up to 8 hours to rehydrate it.
The cheapest place I found for larger pumpkins is Supervalu Medium €1.50, Large €2.50 & Giant €3.50 each. I carved the characters from Inside Out onto tiny cooking pumpkins I bought in Tesco for 69c each. If you follow the above tips and use a silhouette stencil you’d easily have it done in 15-20 minutes or for me just in time to refill your wine glass!