How to shine at pumpkin carving

Create a stunning jack-o'-lantern with this tutorial from paper-cut artist Nikki McClure

Nikki McClure pumpkin stencil

A striking pumpkin carving from artist Nikki McClure.

Josè Mandojana

Nikki McClure pumpkin stencil

  • Foliage band

    How to carve elegant pumpkins

    Use our easy instructions to carve a grown-up pumpkin--plus, get design inspiration from Northwest artist Jen Ament and from our design archive


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;; carve out a hole for the cord if necessary.


Next: More Halloween pumpkin projects


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