Halloween is coming, my fellow fall fans! Here’s a tutorial to get you in the mood.
I’ve loved holiday-specific crafts my entire life: gingerbread house building, Easter egg dying, and most especially, pumpkin carving. I moved to Louisiana seven years ago. The first few years I was down here I’d carve a real pumpkin, and due to humidity it would be moldy in three days or less no matter what I did to try to preserve it. That’s when I discovered foam pumpkin carving!
There are several different ways and tools you can use to carve a foam pumpkin. I consider using a hot knife to be the easiest way to start, because it is the cheapest in terms of supplies you’d need to acquire. In my experience, these pumpkins will last outside for a few Halloweens before getting gross or indefinitely inside.
What you need:
- A foam pumpkin. I get mine from Michael’s, usually for about $10 with a coupon. Most craft stores will carry them starting mid-Summer.
- A hot knife. I got mine at Michael’s as well (use a coupon!). Most craft stores should carry them.
- A pattern printed on plain printer paper. If you are talented, maybe you can create your own! I am not talented in that way. There are plenty of patterns that you can find online, some free and some paid. This year I’ve started using the site Stoneykins.com. They have quite a few free patterns, and their paid patterns are pretty darn cheap. That is where the pattern you will see in this post is from. Make sure your pattern is sized appropriately for your pumpkin. The pumpkins I get are labeled 9 inches tall, and I size my pattern to be no more than 7 inches.
- Straight pins
- Ink pin
- ELECTRIC candle for lighting the pumpkin when done. (Do not use a flame candle!)
Step 1: Attach your pattern
Trim you pattern and tape it you your pumpkin. Try to avoid wrinkles as much as possible within the area that will actually be carved, but some will be unavoidable.
Step 2: Trace the pattern
Trace your pattern onto the pumpkin by poking through the paper and into the pumpkin with a straight pin. There is probably an easier way of doing this, but this is the way I’ve always done it. It’s a bit tedious, but it works. I will usually go back and trace over the pattern with a ballpoint ink pin afterwards, especially if it’s a complicated design. Be careful because the ink will smear, but it’s also easy to wash off afterwards if any is left.
Step 3: Cut the candle hole
Let your hot knife heat up for a few minutes. Mine has a variable heat dial, which I usually turn to about ¾ as hot as it will go. Once your knife is hot, cut the hole so you can place the (ELECTRIC) candle when you are done. You can cut the top off like a traditional jack-o-lantern, or cut a hole in the bottom to stick a candle in. If you pattern has large openings and is not very delicate, you can skip the hole if you want and just put the candles in through the carving. That is what I’ve done with this pattern, but here are some examples of pumpkins I’ve done with top and bottom holes cut…
Step 4: Carve it!
Start with the smallest pieces toward in the middle of the design first, and work your way outward and then onto the larger parts. You may find it useful to divide your large sections into smaller sections to make them easier to work with. You may also have to adjust the heat on your hot knife. Too hot and it burns the pumpkin, too cold and it doesn’t carve effectively.
Step 5: Light it up
Admire your handiwork, light your pumpkin, and enjoy for ages!