For those who are inexperienced (or have limited experience) carving a pumpkin , we provide some basic how-to tips as well as some more advanced techniques for pumpkin carving.
Basic Pumpkin Carving
Plan ahead Some people like to choose a pumpkin design before heading out to the pumpkin patch. This can be helpful, as you will have a better idea of the size and shape of the pumpkin you will need if you already have a design in mind. Other people like to just go to the pumpkin patch and see what strikes them. Either way works well.
Pick Your Pumpkins At Ramseyer Farms, we have two options for how to get your pumpkins: our U-Pick patch and our Pre-picked pumpkin area at our Big Red Barn. Whichever option you choose, there will be plenty of pumpkins to choose from. If you have a design in mind, make sure your pumpkin is appropriate to the design (you can bring your stencils to the pumpkin patch, if you want). It’s also a good idea to pick a variety of pumpkins so they’ll make a nice effect when displayed together on your porch.
Clean Your Pumpkin Professional pumpkin carvers recommend cleaning your pumpkins before carving them. This can make your pumpkins easier to carve and preserve.
Draw Your Design You can either draw the design freehand or transfer it from a stencil by poking holes through the stencil into the pumpkin flesh with a nail or a pounce wheel. If you are designing your own jack o’ lantern, make sure that all parts of the design are adequately supported.
Remove the Cap Cutting at an angle, make a circular cut around the stem to allow removal of the top. You’ll need to reach in here to remove the insides of the pumpkin, so make sure the cut is large enough.
Remove the Insides Before carving the design into your pumpkin, it’s crucial to remove the seeds and strings from the interior of the pumpkin. This is a great place to let the kids take over—most kids love it and it saves you the trouble!
Carve Your Design Simply follow the lines of your design to remove the parts where you want light to shine through. Ramseyer Farms has carving kits available for purchase.
Let There Be Light Once your design is carved, it’s time to put light in your pumpkin. Although small candles are traditional, it’s better for safety and preserving your pumpkin to use small battery-powered LEDs. LEDs are definitely recommended when your pumpkin may be left unattended. Never leave a burning candle unattended.
Advanced Carving Techniques
Practice Makes Perfect The more you practice your carving skills, the better you will get. Consider getting a couple of extra pumpkins just for practice and you’ll be surprised at how much your skills improve.
Carve at Different Depths Traditionalists carve all the way through the pumpkin, but many of the most artistic pumpkins are made by just carving down to the pith (the pale flesh of the pumpkin). By carving at different depths you can create shading effects and complex designs. However, without air holes, your candle will be snuffed out, so you’ll have to use an LED if you carve a design having no cut out sections.
Try Reproducing a Picture Technically, any image can be transferred to a pumpkin. If you want to make a really special pumpkin, start with a picture of someone in your family or a favorite character from a movie or book. Convert it to gray scale and print it out, then use it as a stencil for your pumpkin.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced pumpkin carver, you can get all the pumpkins you desire at Ohio’s family pumpkin adventure, Ramseyer Farms, located between Cleveland and Columbus, OH.