Scary Pumpkin Patterns

    by Thomas K. Arnold

    About the Author

    Thomas K. Arnold is publisher and editorial director of "Home Media Magazine" and a regular contributor to "Variety." He is a former editorial writer for U-T San Diego. He also has written for "San Diego Magazine," "USA Today" and the Copley News Service. Arnold attended San Diego State University.


    This Halloween, don't settle for your standard jack-o-lantern with triangle eyes and a crooked grin. Use a scary pumpkin pattern to create an orange masterpiece, from a witch's silhouette to a terrifying zombie.

    Things You'll Need

    • Pumpkin
    • Pumpkin Carving Kit
    • Patterns (Either Downloaded or From a Book)
    • Pins
    • Scissors
    • Candle
    • Matches

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    Select your pattern. You can browse websites or purchase a pattern book at any drugstore or mass merchant in the weeks leading up to Halloween. If downloading a pattern, you should print it on regular white copy paper. Be sure to recognize your skill set. If you are new to this process, don't try a complicated pattern; settle for something simple, such as a scary pumpkin face or a ghost. Many patterns have difficulty levels indicated on them.

    Prepare your pumpkin. Cut a hole at the top, around the stem, three to four inches in diameter. Gut the insides. You can keep the pumpkin seeds; toss out the gooey insides. Be sure to keep the top, with the stem; cut two rectangular slots on either side of the stem. These holes will provide ventilation when your jack-o-lantern is carved and lit up with a candle inside.

    Trim the pattern page. Cut around the stencil, leaving about an inch as a border. Position it on the pumpkin where you wish to carve. Be careful to not allow too much distortion, as the pumpkin is a sphere and your paper is flat; find the flattest surface of the pumpkin. To make the pattern lie flat, cut slits into the sides.

    Mark an outline. Use a pin to make tiny holes in the pumpkin along the lines of the pattern. Your holes should be no more than a quarter-inch apart.

    Remove the pattern. Put it aside, as you may need to refer to it while you are carving.

    Carve away! Following the pin-hole outline, be sure to cut all the way into the pumpkin, straight through, not at an angle. Carve slowly, using a sawing motion. Once you have completed a section of the pattern, remove the cut pumpkin pieces and discard.

    Finish up. Use your fingertips to smooth out your carved edges, and polish the outside of the pumpkin with a paper towel or cloth. Put a candle inside or, better yet, a small camping light that runs on batteries.

    • You can make a snack out of the saved pumpkin seeds. Wash and rinse the seeds and place them on a flat baking pan. Bake in the oven until slightly brown. Salt and serve.
    • Don't cut too fast. It's easy to make mistakes, especially when following tiny pinpricks in a sea of orange. One wrong cut could ruin your creation. If you do make a wrong cut, you re-attach a piece of pumpkin using toothpicks and fast-drying glue.