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

Landscape and wildlife-inspired pumpkins

Photo by Thomas J. Story; designs by Jennifer Ament

Carve up some pumpkin art

We asked one of our favorite artists, Seattle-based linocut printmaker and painter Jennifer Ament, how she’d translate her Northwest-influenced designs to pumpkin carvings—and were wowed by the results. Inspired by the landscape and wildlife near her favorite spot at Lake Sammamish, Ament’s artful carvings trump the idea that Halloween decor has to feel kitschy. (And serve as proof that it always works to find creative design ideas in our natural surroundings.)

Check out Jen's Northwest landscape and wildlife-inspired collection of linocut prints at jenniferament.com.

Carving instructions and materials

Photo by Thomas J. Story; designs by Jennifer Ament

Do it yourself

Materials: Washable marker, carving tool(s), pumpkins in interesting shapes and varying sizes

  1. Draw or photocopy a design to desired size. Seek inspiration in antique Audubon books (freestanding animals), and foliage from your own backyard.
  2. Cut out top of pumpkin and scrape interior clean. (You can also chose to skip this step and not hollow the pumpkins.)
  3. Copy desired design onto pumpkin with washable marker (freehand), or transfer design to pumpkin.
  4. Using a carving tool, carve into the design about 1/4 in deep, being careful not to break through pumpkin flesh (rather, scraping a hollow relief).
  5. If you've hollowed your pumpkins, set them aglow with multiple tea lights, or battery operated candles.

Pine branches and beetle

Photo by Thomas J. Story; designs by Jennifer Ament

Pine branches and beetle

Pumpkins aren't only for the outdoors! Jen suggests arranging a few atop the dining room console or living room coffee table and accessorize with festive elements like feathers.

Snakes and mask

Photo by Thomas J. Story; designs by Jennifer Ament

Snakes and mask

Create a spooky entryway that will delight trick-or-treaters! Jen's mask design is inspired by Truman Capote's famous masked ball.

Feathers and hawk with crescent moon

Photo by Thomas J. Story; designs by Jennifer Ament

Feathers and hawk with crescent moon

This vignette was inspired by Jen's time boating at Lake Sammamish—where she and her family always see the same hawk.

Glowing vines

Photo by Thomas J. Story; design by Birte Walter

Glowing vines

A Sunset favorite: meandering patterns add a whimsical storybook appeal to your arrangement.

Foliage band

Photo by Thomas J. Story; design by Birte Walter

Foliage band

We like the subtle glow that slender foliage carvings add to a front porch.

Silhouettes

Photo by Thomas J. Story; design by Birte Walter

Silhouettes

Create a centerpiece-worthy embossed effect with no candle or seed scooping required. Arrange multiple silhouetted pumpkins along the center of an outdoor table. We added stones and leaves to complete the setting.

Twinkling branches

Photo by Thomas J. Story; design by Birte Walter

Twinkling branches

Orange twinkle lights illuminate our vignette. Cut a small hole for an electrical plug in the back of pumpkin, near its base, and feed indoor-outdoor twinkle lights inside pumpkin. From interior, poke individual lights into berry holes. (An electric drill fitted with a small bit helps create holes at the branch tips.)

Harlequin leaves

Photo by Thomas J. Story; design by Birte Walter

Harlequin leaves

Repeat a single leaf shape for a quilted look on hollow pumpkins. (Tip: long, thin grooves at a 45° angle work best.)

Printed from:
http://www.sunset.com/home/weekend-projects/carve-elegant-pumpkins-00400000048187/