Pumpkin Carving 101 with NS Experts

Guest Post by Rosalie Reeves

Posted: October 21, 2014

Halloween is simply one of my favorite holidays: I love the costumes and treats, but most of all I LOVE JACK-O'-LANTERNS!

Now, if you're like me - carving pumpkins has always been a challenge.

NS Pumpkin Carving ExpertsNot so for New Ross, Nova Scotia native Brittany Broome and her partner Bobby Connors, who have been carving complex designs for a little over a decade - averaging around 20 pumpkins a season.

We caught up with these pumpkin carving experts - to find out their secret for making such beautiful  jack-o'-lanterns. Armed with their tricks and recommended tools - we're expertly carving up a creepy storm just in time for this year's trick-or-treaters. RR

Britts-Pumpkin2SABS: Good carvings not only take creativity, you also need the right tools. What tools do you use and recommend?

Brittany: The must have tools are... a good scooper, a small and tiny saw blade hand tool and a poker, something that can pierce the skin of the pumpkin to leave a hole. Even thumbtacks work great. You can also get high quality pokers out of wood carving kits.

Bobby:  For a scooper, we have a metal scooper with big teeth on it to initially pull out all the 'guts' and then we use a hand scraper (a hard piece of plastic that fits in your palm) which is great at shaving the walls thinner.

The thinner the walls the better for carving. Lots of the cheaper carving kits for pumpkins come with larger and wider saws, but those aren't very good at making the intricate cuts needed on harder patterns.


SABS: The intricate designs you're creating seem pretty daunting for us beginners - any inside 'scoop' you can share to get us started?

Brittany: When first selecting a pumpkin, make sure you look for one with a really flat side, most people look for round pumpkins, but it's much easier carving on the flat side of the pumpkin, and easier to pin the pattern.

NS-Pumpkin-Carving-Expert3Also, make sure you scrape out that side of the pumpkin a lot, if you can get the wall down to less than an inch thick, that's great.

Bobby: Sometimes, depending on the colour or type of pumpkin you have chosen, or if your poker tool is especially small, after you've traced your pumpkin pattern onto the pumpkin it's hard to see it.

Just take some flour in your palm and rub it onto the surface of your pumpkin, it sticks to the wetness of the holes and makes them much clearer to see to carve out.

Also, when removing the pattern from the pumpkin, keep it close by to look at it to determine where to carve first. You always want to visualize where the weakest parts of the pumpkin are going to be and carve the smaller holes and weaker areas first, and work your way out to the edges. This gives you less of a chance of smashing through the wall.

Also, for the candle - try carving a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin by twisting a knife in there, it holds a candle great. Pumpkin carving 101

step 1 pumpkinsStep 1 - Cut out the lid of your pumpkin. Be sure when cutting to do so on an angle to prevent the lid from falling inside the pumpkin.

 Step 2 - Use a scooper to scoop out the "guts" and seeds (Be sure to save the seeds to bake in the oven while carving using your favorite recipe!) Afterwards, use a hand scraper to really scrape the walls inside nice and thin where you’re going to carve.

 Step 3 - Using thumbtacks (Tape can peel off if your pumpkin is cold or wet), tack your pattern to your pumpkin. Its best to trim the excess paper around the pattern to ensure a tight fit.

 step 4 pumpkinsStep 4 - Using a poking tool (Or a thumbtack with a handle) start tracing the lines of the pattern and poke a hole every few milometers.  Be sure to review it once you think you’re done to make sure you didn't miss any areas.

step 5 pumpkins Step 5 - Remove the pattern. If the holes are easy to see like above, then analyze where to start carving and get ready for your first cut. If they are hard to see, rub it with some flour.

 Step 6 - Cut out the pieces starting with the smallest and most fragile areas. After each piece is cut out, poke it into the pumpkin or pull it out, and use your carving tool to shave the thickness of the walls around the cutout to make it thinner, this helps with the overall look of the carving when lit.

 step 9 pumpkinsStep 7 - After all pieces are cut out, light the pumpkin up. Use your carving tool to continue to thin out the walls. Areas of concentration typically are thin longer cuts and smaller holes that weren’t cleaned out the greatest...be careful!


Step 8 - Voila! You’re done.

Just empty out all of the shavings and pieces you cut out of the pumpkin and you’re ready to take pictures and brag!


1 Comment »

  1. So proud of Brittany and Bobby( my son) They so enjoy this hobby and they are indeed very good at it. Love you

    Comment by Donna Connors — October 27, 2014 @ 9:19 pm

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