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Halloween Pumpkin Decorating and Carving Ideas: Designs and Techniques for a Unique Jack O’ Lantern

Though pumpkin carving is a fun Halloween activity, coming up with new jack o’ lantern ideas can be difficult from year to year. Use some creative thinking though and create some pumpkin designs that will wow the neighbors.

Use Templates, Drawings and Stencils to Carve Elaborate Patterns

Guides can help to create intricate and original designs on a pumpkin. Guides, such as stencils and templates, can be purchased at any Halloween supply store, or they can be easily made at home from a drawn or printed image.

  • To make a carving guide, draw or print an image onto a sheet of paper that is large enough to cover the front of the pumpkin.
  • Cut away any excess paper that does not contain the design.
  • Coat the front of the pumpkin with rubber cement, which can be purchased at any craft store.
  • Also coat the back of the paper in rubber cement.
  • After both the pumpkin and the paper have dried, the design can be applied to the pumpkin by pressing the sticky side of the paper against the pumpkin.
  • Use a knife to cut out the image that is now on the pumpkin.
  • Once done carving, peel off any paper and rub off any left over rubber cement.
  • This technique is best used with silhouette images or high-contrast images.

Use Straight Pins to Make a Colorful Pumpkin Design

Colorful straight pins can be used to make a design instead of carving the pumpkin. Purchase a couple cases of straight pins. Make sure that the pins heads are colorful balls instead of flat silver.

  • To use the straight pins to decorate, start by separating the colors into small cups.
  • Use a template or draw a free-form design on the pumpkin using a pencil.
  • Push the pins through the pumpkin skin so that the colorful end is the only visible part.
  • Place pins next to each other so that they form lines.
  • This technique is great for creating green vines that extend down from the stem of the pumpkin.

Paint Pumpkins Instead of Carving

For those who don’t like carving, painting pumpkins is a fun alternative. Painting provides endless possibilities for color and designs.

  • Start by laying out newspaper and wearing old clothes to make sure not to damage possessions.
  • Clean the pumpkin with soap and water to prep the surface.
  • Use a pencil to lightly draw a design onto the pumpkin
  • Using tempera paints or paint pens, paint over the pencil design.
  • Once the pumpkin has dried, coat the entire pumpkin in a acrylic spray gloss, which can be purchased at a local craft store.

Give A Jack O’ Lantern Arms and Feet

Why not really bring a pumpkin face to life by adding some arms and feet? By using dowel rods and Model Magic clay, hands and feet are easy and fun to make.

  • Start by purchasing a 1/4 inch dowel rod and some Model Magic air-dry clay.
  • Cut the dowel rod into two small 3-4 inch pieces.
  • Use the model magic to sculpt some hands at the ends of the dowel rod pieces.
  • With a 1/4 inch drill bit, drill two small holes in the side of the pumpkin.
  • Place the dowel rods with the hands in the holes. Affix them with a little hot glue if necessary.
  • Also sculpt some feet using the Model Magic and place them at the bottom of the pumpkin as if they are poking out from underneath the pumpkin head.
  • The model magic should dry within a day and can be painted with tempera or acrylic paints.

Create Original Pumpkin Carving Designs

Instead of making the normal pumpkin face, use unique designs to make pumpkins stand out. Look at the pumpkins as a design element and envision ways that the pumpkins can interact with each other. Come up with your own ideas or use some of the suggestions below.

  • Use a grouping of pumpkins to write a word like “BOO!”. Write each letter or punctuation mark on a different pumpkin and set them together to spell out the word.
  • Collect leaves and trace them around the pumpkin. Cut them out so that it looks like they are falling on the surface of the pumpkin.
  • Create a Chinese dragon, snake or sea monster that extends the length of several pumpkins.
  • Carve a non-Halloween image such as a fleur de lis or a peace sign.
  • Carve your address numbers in a grouping of pumpkins.

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