Step 1: Pick out the perfect pumpkin
Choose a pumpkin without any visible cuts or bruises or it won’t last you until Halloween. (Tip: A pumpkin with smoother, flatter sides makes transferring a pattern and carving easier.)
Step 2: Cut opening
For a top opening, draw a 4 or 5 inch circular shape around the stem including extra notch…this will make it easier to put the lid back on the pumpkin. Cut at a 45 degree angle to prevent the lid from falling into the pumpkin. (Tip: Sometimes it may prove helpful to cut a bottom opening instead. This will enable you to light your candle first then place your pumpkin over it…thus preventing burns.)
Step 3: De-goo your pumpkin
Remove as many seeds and strings as possible by hand. Then using a short handled spoon or scoop, scrape the inner walls of the pumpkin clean and smooth. (Tip: To make carving easier, scrape walls to about one inch thickness.)
Step 4: Attach pattern
Tape pattern to the smoothest, flattest side of the pumpkin. (Tip: Small tears around the sides of the pattern will enable the paper to conform to the curve of the pumpkin.)
Step 5: Apply pattern
Using a poking tool or push pin (thumb tack, nail, etc.), lightly poke tiny holes through the paper along the lines of the pattern at 1/8 to 1/4 inch intervals. This will form a “dot-to-dot” outline of your pattern on the surface of the pumpkin. When all lines are poked remove the pattern. (Tip: Save your pattern as a reference for when you begin to carve.)
Step 6: Begin carving
Sit on the floor and place the pumpkin comfortably in your lap. Holding the pumpkin carving saw (sold at local retail or grocery stores), like a pencil, insert the saw straight into the pumpkin (a 90 degree angle) and begin sawing in an up and down motion. If the pumpkin is too thick to carve, make the inner wall thinner by scraping before continuing. Keep sawing, connecting the the dots of the pattern you made in the previous step. To cut around a curve, do not twist the saw or it might break. Continue sawing up and down while gently turning the saw in the direction you wish to carve. (Tip: If you are having difficulty seeing the dots, rub flour over the design to turn the dots white for better visibility.) For safety please do not use knives for carving.
Step 7: Finishing Touches
Light your candle and place inside of pumpkin. After a few moments you will notice a blackened area inside the top of the pumpkin. Blow out the candle. Then cut a 1 to 2 inch hole in the blackened area. This hole will act as a vent to allow heat from your candle to escape.
Hint 1: Remember to keep your non-carving hand away from the carving tool to prevent injuries.
Hint 2: Always start carving the smallest areas first or carve from the center of the design outward. This will prevent unwanted pressure from your hand breaking carved areas of the pumpkin.
Hint 3: Carve larger areas into two or three smaller pieces to allow for easier removal.