It’s another wonderful day with The Man, Mr. illistyle. Learn how to carve perfect pumpkins with his detailed instructions below (and if you missed yesterday’s post about where to get your stencils, check it out here). Take it away love!
Hey. It’s illi’s man again. Here’s how you carve the perfect pumpkin:
Choose a Stencil THEN a Pumpkin or choose a stencil that works with your pumpkin- This is an important step that most often comes before picking the pumpkin. Certain stencils will only fit on certain pumpkins. So if you have a stencil you just have to do, make sure you have a pumpkin that it will fit. A friend once carved “The Last Supper” on a pumpkin, he made sure to choose a short and wide pumpkin because the orientation of the picture is long and short. Or if you are going to carve a face, you need to make sure the pumpkin is large enough. Also remember it is not a sin to use a funkin. Sure it’s not the same, but if you do a good job, you can save it for next year.
Tape the Stencil– For some reason, people have a hard time with this step. Yes, a flat, square piece of paper will not magically fit on a round, convex pumpkin, you gotta give it a little finesse and a whole lot of scotch or masking tape. Cut around the stencil’s outer edge, removing a lot of the useless white space, so that excess paper will not need to be taped. Find where your stencil fits best – is there a weird divot? Avoid that side. Found a smooth side? Jackpot. Position the paper on the optimal carving side of the pumpkin and place a single piece of tape on the top. Now, it is a process of folding corners and taping, and folding a taping. In the end you want the paper to fit snugly against the pumpkin and have the entire radius (as your square paper takes more of a circular shape) covered in tape. You are about to stab this paper a thousand times, make sure you taped it well.
Stabbing Time– Patience is a virtue, and you will need it now. I used to use toothpicks, then i switched to pushpins, then I found the holy grail, Giant Push Pins. With toothpicks your fingers start to cramp, these make it easier. Any office supply store has them. What you now need to do it to make holes on every line on your paper. You want the holes as close to each other as possible. The closer the better, because these holes will guide your cuts and the closer the holes the cleaner your cut lines will be. This is the longest step – by far. This is why you should have a party, it’s a little mindless, but allows for great conversations.
Push, push, push, then more pushing, take a sip of apple cider, push, push, push, listen to a friend’s funny story, push, push, push – you get the idea. Make sure your stencil stays in the same spot, if you need to re-tape, then do it. However, if you push so much part of your stencil separates, but you have finished that part, feel free to remove it. That is actually a good sign if you have made your holes so close together that you effectively “cut” out a portion of the paper stencil then you are doing very well. Before removing the stencil, make sure you have pushed through every line, often times people forget 1 line and it is tedious to fix it later. So make sure you do not miss any lines.
Cutting Time– This is why boys like doing pumpkin carving, first you stabbed a bunch, now you cut a bunch. Just don’t tell the guys that it is a safety knife and it is impossible to cut yourself, trust me I have tried. This is where all your hard work comes to life. The reason most pumpkins are so ugly is it is difficult to cut thick pumpkin shells with a knife, especially a safety knife. But now that you have the holes, they will literally guide you through the carving. Just saw back and forth along the lines you previously made and you will be on your way. Now I like to cut the pieces out, but I don’t remove them from the pumpkin until all the carving is done. This adds structure and strength and makes it easier to keep the delicate parts in tact. But once all the carving is done, start removing the pieces. It will always be easier to push the pieces out of the pumpkin and not inside of the pumpkin. Clean up any messy cuts with your knife. And remember it won’t look great just yet, you have to light it on fire first. (or put fire into it, same difference)
Fire Time– Spears, Knives, now Fire? This is a man-craft at it’s manliest. Once you remove the pieces you will look at the pumpkin and be depressed. You will think you screwed up and want to give up. This happens every time. Everyone hates how their pumpkin looks. Trust me, it will not look good…. until you put a candle in it. Once you place it in a dark area and light a candle it will be beautiful. For candles I normally use Tealight Candles, 3-4 candles per pumpkin. (The wife usually gets a couple big bags from Ikea. She says they are the cheapest ones that will stay lit.) Once your pumpkin is lit you will be shocked how well it came out. Any flaws you thought you had will be gone. It is like botox. Post pics all over facebook and instagram. Also make sure to take pictures of you carving, our first year we posted pictures of our finished carvings and people didn’t believe we made them, until we showed more proof. Pics or it didn’t happen.
Making it last– Pumpkins are strange, before carving, they last forever. Once they are carved, the start to die. And don’t let them sit too long, they will mold from the inside out, and if you forget about it, they will collapse on themselves, making a horrible mess. By this time the man in your life will be over pumpkin carving, and expect you to throw it away. You, viewing the man’s responsibility of taking out the trash, will force him to clean his own mess, then the fighting begins, and no one wins. To make your pumpkin last the longest, do your carving as close to Halloween as possible. It also doesn’t hurt to submerge your freshly carved pumpkin in water. If you start to see it wilting again, another hour soak can bring it back. You can also coat the pumpkin in some Petroleum Jelly, but that takes a long time, I spray mine with Lysol every day or so.
Fancy Tools– Any tools at the store will be fine. Buy extra for your party, I recommend getting a variety, figure out what set you like the most. Some people like to go extreme, and for pumpkin carving it is not that expesive. Dremel makes a pumpkin carving tool for less than $25 that can save hours of carving. Electric Dremel. I also use a Pumpkin Gutter, you attach it to a drill and carve out the pumpkin. Not necessary, but it shows your commitment level. Finally, the way to show the highest commitment to the cause is a Brass and Walnut Pro Pumpkin Carving Tool Kit. Another $25 tool, but this ain’t no plastic junk, this is fancy tools that will last a lifetime. Also the different blades really make a difference. Do you need any of these tools? Nope, a $2 set at the store is fine, but if you are throwing a party, they do help and people get excited about fancy tools they are not used to seeing in everyday life, or even at annual pumpkin carving fests.
These are some of the pumpkins people have created with our patent pending technique.. just kidding, we did not apply for a patent, yet.
Above pictures are from our parties, except the two from the great site: Zombie Pumpkins. I love their selection of stencils and they have another great photo how to as well.
For hundreds of more pumpkin stencils, see my previous post.
– The Carving King (illi’s husband)
illi again: My man loves him some pumpkins. And you have to admit, they turn out quite professional looking. Just imagine them on your door step. Ohhhh, Ahhhh. So Festive! Wanna throw a rocking Pumpkin Carving Party? Check out his tips and tricks here.
So, what are you going to carve?
This is not a sponsored post. We are simply satisfied customers of Zombie Pumpkins and obvious pumpkin carving fans. This post contains affiliate links.