Wednesday 28 October 2009

Basic Pumpkin Carving

Pumpkin carving is a massive tradition in the USA, but despite its growth as a Hallowe’en activity in recent years, I was amazed at the number of people who have told me that they’ve never carved one before! Apparently, mutilating vaguely spherical marrows strikes a lot of people in this country as rather odd! Well, let me tell you, you don’t need to be concerned as it’s actually surprisingly easy to do!

Step One: Choose Your Pumpkin

Size is merely a matter of preference. I prefer to work with a larger pumpkin, where possible, as I prefer to have a larger space to play with. I have seen some fantastic work though, on very small baby pumpkins – and to tell the truth, I’ve even seen some impressive work on an orange pepper.

Once you’ve chosen what size you want, the most important thing to do is to make sure that it is a pumpkin. A pumpkin should be vaguely spherical, hard, and orange. If it comes from the large box in the supermarket marked “Pumpkins”, then you should be okay. But do be aware of dodgy market vendors trying to pass off butternut squashes, onions and terrapins as “pumpkins”.

Step Two: Choose Your Design

Most people like to go for the “traditional” Jack O Lantern design for their first time out, but if you’re feeling brave, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be a little more creative. With a pencil (or “Biro”, if you’re feeling flash!) draw your design lightly on the pumpkin. Mutter under your breath a little as the writing implement glances off of the shiny skin of the pumpkin

You should now have a scrawly, messy looking face on your pumpkin.

Try to ensure that the majority of the face is in the middle. Too high, and the light will look washed out; too low and it will keel forward as you carve into the base, retard.

Step Three: Prepare the Pumpkin

Carving the face is the fun part. First, we have to get the sticky and gross part out of the way.

The first thing to do is to cut a lid in the pumpkin, so that you can a) get the guts out, and b) put a candle inside. The single most important thing to do is to ensure that you cut inwards at an angle (40° - 60° is best), so that the lid will rest back in the pumpkin comfortably.

If you cut the lid straight downwards, then when you go to replace it, it will just drop straight through into the pumpkin like Del Boy and Rodney cleaning a chandelier.

Once you’ve made the cut, pull the lid upwards by the stalk. There’ll be a tearing sensation as you tear at the seed strands inside. You seed murdering bastard.

Now, with a ladle or other large scooping device, begin to scrape at and remove all of the seeds and vile stringy bits. Continue until your arm starts to hurt. At this point, put the ladle down, and start to pull out the seeds and vile stringy bits with your bare hands. Feel the corners of the your mouth pull sideways like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit as the cold slimy interior cakes between your fingers.

Make a grossed out groaning sound.

Now that you’ve successfully gutted the pumpkin, wash your hands. Doesn’t help at all does it, sticky buddy?

Step Four: Carving the Pumpkin

Take a sharp knife, and push the sharp end into the pumpkin – NOT your hand. Tut under your breath as it slides in too far and scars up the lovely drawing you did earlier, making the eye three times bigger than it needs to be.

Make one nostril bigger than the other by mistake, and accidentally knock one of the pumpkin's teeth out. Swear under your breath.

Step Five: Finishing Up

If you've done everything right so far, you'll notice that it's very hard to get candle into the pumpkin. You can drop it in unlit, but then can't light it without burning yourself; or you can light the candle first, and then burn yourself dropping it, muttering "cunt" under your breath as it goes out on impact.


  1. Heres my attempt from a couple of years ago...

  2. Hmm... I think I may have to carve one for Saturday. What to do, what to do...