Show off a traditional Halloween message in a highly unusual way. Jackie Ortega, owner of San Francisco's Craft Gym, says this project is easy to pull off once you know the secret.
Start by printing out "trick" and "treat" in bold letters on paper to use as a stencil. Center "treat" on your pumpkin and use a pushpin to dot the outline of the letters, then scoop out the pumpkin and carve between the dots (use toothpicks to hold centers of "e" and "a").
Carving "trick" on the back is, well, trickier. Turn your stencil over and place it backward on the other side of the pumpkin ― then dot your outline and carve. Add a tea light or a tap light and beam your undercover message to the world.
1. Start by making a template: download and photocopy the design, sizing it to fit your pumpkin.
Free download: Get Nikki's stencil
2. Tape the template to a clean, dry, and hollowed-out pumpkin.
3. Using a pushpin, prick closely spaced holes along the outline of the design, making them deep enough to be seen when you remove the template.
4. Remove the template. Following the pinpricks and taking care not to cut all the way through, use a small carving chisel or linoleum cutter to outline the design. With a larger linoleum cutter, remove the rind within the outlines and scrape out some pumpkin flesh (the deeper you go, the more light will shine through). Add texture and dimension by varying the direction and depth of your carving.
5. Light your pumpkin. A votive candle is traditional, but for more illumination, use a battery-powered or outdoor-rated electric light (from $1.99; funkins.com); carve out a hole for the cord if necessary.
- McClure recommends the Speedball eight-piece linoleum-cutter set ($16; danielsmith.com).
- Variegated pumpkins look dramatic, ‘Small Sugar’ heirlooms are smaller and easy to carve.
|Create a trap door in back to install a light source|
Foam pumpkins are thin enough to carve with a craft knife and light enough to hang with thin wire.
Use a battery-powered "tap light," sold at most home improvement stores, for illumination.
We found our pumpkins at Michaels, a chain of craft stores (800/642-4235).
- In the pumpkin's back, use a craft knife to cut a hole large enough to slip in the tap light.
- With an awl, punch five holes in pumpkin for the laces and pull tab.
- Loop a piece of waxed string through the top holes and knot it to form a hinge, then loop another piece through bottom hole and knot it to make a pull.
Pumpkin House With Numbers
Select one pumpkin per house number and cut a hole in the top of each.
• Clean them out, saving the tops, and wipe exteriors dry.
• Center paper stencil number (ours was 5 inches tall) on the first pumpkin and adhere with painter's tape.
• With a marker, trace the stencil outline, then carefully carve just outside the line with a small handsaw or heavy-duty craft knife.
• Repeat for each number.
• Arrange a few tea lights inside each pumpkin, then line up or stack in proper order.
• Replace top on the highest pumpkin.
• Illuminate tea lights using a long-handled lighter through the holes.
Black Cat O'lanterns
Create a spooky trio of glossy black cats to watch over trick-or-treaters at your door. All you need are a few pumpkins in feline shapes ― long or pear-shaped for the body, small and round for the face.
Choose a tall one for an elegant cat, or a squat orange heirloom for a chubby cat curled on its paws. Test a few "heads" until you find a good match.
This twist on the traditional jack-o'-lantern cuts down on some of the usual pumpkin cleaning: No need to hollow out the body. Just clean out and carve the head, then add mini pumpkin paws, curvy cucumber tails, and ears from stiffened felt or black card stock from the craft store. Then, light the candle, get the candy, and watch your Halloween cats come to life.
Carve a cat pumpkin
Step 1: Cut out top of small pumpkin and scoop the inside clean. Place it upside down on the base pumpkin, turning to find a good fit. If necessary, carve opening slightly to adjust.
Step 2: Set head on the base to decide placement of eyes, then carve them out. You can draw them on first or use our template.
Step 3: Cut pointy ears out of felt or card stock and mark their positions on the head with a pen. Carve two shallow grooves into the head to hold the ears. Avoid cutting all the way through the pumpkin. (For more realistic ears, carve crescent-shaped grooves.)
Step 4: Prep an outside work area for spray painting. Stuff the head with loosely crumpled newspaper.
Cover pumpkins, mini pumpkins, and cucumber with one or two thin coats of black spray paint. Allow to dry. Remove stuffing and insert the ears.
Step 5: If the head is wobbly, gently pound a few floral picks into the body with the mallet or hammer. Measure the opening of the head, then position the picks to fit just inside.
Touch up paint if needed.
Step 6: Put a short tea light on a lid or dish to catch any drips. Stick to the top of the big pumpkin with a small ball of clay polymer or poster putty. Attach the head. Position cat and arrange tail and paws next to body.
- Knife or carving kit
- Stiff felt or paper for ears
- Curved cucumber or skinny gourd for tail
- Mini pumpkins for paws
- Black floral spray
- Wood floral picks (5 or 6 per pumpkin; optional)
- Mallet or hammer for attaching picks to base pumpkin (optional)
- Tea-light candle in flat dish or jar lid
- Clay polymer or poster putty
Invert a glass globe that normally goes over an electric ceiling light fixture, tuck a tea light inside, and you've got a holiday lantern. Choose a globe that fits over the porch light and you can greet trick-or-treaters in an orange glow.
TIME: 20 minutes, not including drying time
COST: $10 to $15
TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Translucent orange spray paint for glass (available at some Michaels craft stores; Krylon Stained Glass Magic Color is available at www.artcity.com)
- Glass globe for a light fixture (available at hardware stores)
- Scissors or craft knife
- Black contact paper
- Wire cutters
- 20-gauge wire
- Six black beads
- Rubber band
- Hair dryer
- Glass beads or sand
- Tea light
INSTRUCTIONS:1. Spray-paint the outside of the globe and set aside to dry (about an hour).
2. Draw a simple design - a jack-o'-lantern, black cat, or bat - on cardboard and cut out. Trace shape on contact paper and cut out design.
3. With wire cutters, cut a 2-foot length of wire and a 1-foot piece.
4. Thread black beads on the longer wire. Gently bend it to form a rounded handle. Position over globe leaving 2 inches of wire below neck of the globe on each side. Secure with the rubber band.
5. Wrap the shorter wire tightly around the neck of the globe and, with pliers, twist firmly. Clip off excess wire. Cut off the rubber band and discard.
6. Bend the descending 2 inches of the handle up over the securing wire and lightly twist around the handle. Cover the twist with the black beads, three on each side.
7. Peel the backing off the contact paper and stick the design on the globe, smoothing out as many bubbles as possible. With a hair dryer on a warm setting, heat the paper and smooth out the rest of the bubbles.
8. Pour a small amount of glass beads or sand in the bottom of the globe. Place a tea light in the center.
Beautiful Leafy Pumpkins
HOW TO CARVE A PUMPKINChoose Select a variety of pumpkin shapes, sizes, and colors. For added personality, select ones with unique stems.
Plan Before carving, group pumpkins in desired location and map out each one's design.
Design Trace real leaves onto paper, or use patterns from botanical "clip art" books (available at bookstores and art-supply stores). Experiment with leaf size and arrangement.
Hollow With a saber saw or pumpkin-carving tool, cut out the top of each pumpkin. Scoop out seeds and strings with a sturdy metal spoon. Then use a pottery tool called a loup, a small metal ladle, or a melon baller to scrape out as much of the interior as possible, especially where you plan to carve (this will make carving easier and allow for better illumination).
Transfer Before copying a design onto a pumpkin, clean the entire surface with a damp towel, then wipe with another towel until exterior is completely dry. Secure paper to pumpkin with masking tape or pushpins. Use a pushpin, embroidery needle, or metal skewer to prick your design onto the pumpkin.
Carve Cut along transferred design lines using a saber saw, pumpkin-carving tool, small paring knife, or linoleum-cutting tool (similar to a box cutter). Shorter blades allow more control.
Preserve To keep your designs looking fresh, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly or vegetable oil to the pumpkin's carved crevices.
Light To get the right amount of glow in a pumpkin lit by candles, use multiple tea lights.
Meandering patterns add a whimsical storybook appeal to your arrangement.
1. Cut out top of pumpkin and scrape the interior clean (see instructions).
2. Using a real vine or a vine pattern, transfer design onto pumpkin. (To create your own pattern, use varying sizes of your favorite leaf shape, then draw a vine between the leaves.)
3. Carve leaf shapes by cutting completely through the pumpkin or by scraping a shallow relief. You can combine the two methods, as shown here on the smallest pumpkin.
4. With a scraping tool, carve vine stem about ¼ inch deep, being careful not to break all the way through the pumpkin flesh.
Repeat a single leaf shape for a quilted look on hollow pumpkins (see instructions).
Front left With a small paring knife, cut long, thin grooves at a 45° angle into pumpkin, being careful not to break all the way through the flesh. Repeat in vertical rows as shown.
Center Intersperse vertical rows of two leaves with rows of a single leaf, reversing the direction of leaf stem in each row. Along top and bottom of single-leaf rows, cut out triangular notches and depress slightly.
Back right Cut out leaf shape in two parts, leaving center vein in place, or use a scraping tool (see instructions) to peel away rind inside the design, leaving center vein exposed (we used both techniques on our pumpkin).
Create a centerpiece-worthy embossed effect with no candle or seed scooping required.
1: Using a large leaf (or a leaf pattern enlarged to fit your pumpkin), transfer design onto the center of an intact pumpkin.
2: With a pencil, draw a complementary shape to frame the leaf design, preferably leaving at least ½ inch of space on all sides of leaf edges.
3: Use a scraping tool to peel away flesh between leaf shape and its frame. With the same tool, carve leaf veins in a freehand pattern.
4: Arrange multiple silhouetted pumpkins along the center of an outdoor table. Add stones or leaves to complete the setting.
Get a jump-start on holiday decorating with these shimmery miniature pumpkins. Tiny pumpkins ― or any small gourds ― can be colored in minutes with acrylic paints or permanent markers. The secret to their jewel-like sparkle is a finishing glaze applied after the paint or ink has thoroughly dried.Display the decorative pumpkins in a pretty bowl on a coffee table, use them as a centerpiece on the dining table, or nestle them with seasonal greens in potted plants. You can even use them as place cards, setting them on individual plates with name tags attached to the stems.
DIRECTIONS1. Use a foam brush to apply acrylic paint evenly over pumpkin.
2. While paint is still wet, run a rubber comb around the pumpkin. Start from the stem and work from top to bottom. As an alternative to painting and combing, use a broad-tip marker to draw spirals or dots on the pumpkins, or go a little wild by drawing random lines in contrasting colors.
3. When paint or ink is dry, spray with a polyurethane glaze as a protective finish.
MATERIALSMiniature pumpkins in varying sizes and shapes
Rubber comb (available from craft stores)
Broad-tip permanent markers