Decorate a Pumpkin Carve a pumpkin or Etching a Pumpkin

SundaySchoolKids: decorate-and-carving-a-pumpkin-instructions
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Decorate a Pumpkin
Carve a pumpkin or Etching a Pumpkin
See part I for preparing your pumpkin
Are you Carving a Pumpkin or Etching a Pumpkin?
1. What’s the difference between carving and etching a
- Carving means going all the way through the “meat” of
the pumpkin to the center--- making a shaped hole in the
- Etching or scraping means only removing the tough skin
layer of the pumpkin the let the light orange-ish
“meat”show through. There is no hole.
2. What is the meat? Some people call it the flesh of the
pumpkin- YUK! it is what is under the skin. It is also what
is boiled to make pies out of. Sometimes it can be very
thick- almost 2 inches; sometimes it can be as thin as an
Etched pumpkin
SundaySchoolKids: decorate-and-carving-a-pumpkin-instructions
Get your stuff together
Tiny etching tools
1. Get your pumpkin tools
Either a pumpkin carving kit that includes
- tiny saw (+ Pointed paring knife –with Parent)
- pick or wheel for poking tiny holes
- scraper-etcher (tiny loop or scoop)
- table covering
- red magic marker and pencil
- flour or white powder
- toothpicks
- Tape if you prefer
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SundaySchoolKids: decorate-and-carving-a-pumpkin-instructions
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Or traditional tools from home with kit parts
- paring knife (with parent supervision)
- saw from a pumpkin kit
- straight pin or 2” safety pin (preferred)
- toothpicks
- For etching or scraping: cuticle pusher, or
pointed nail file, or wood carving gouging tool,
or pointed metal letter opener and/or tiny flat
computer screwdriver
- table covering
- red magic marker and pencil
- flour or white powder
- Tape
If it is a beautiful day, maybe you could decorate you
pumpkin in the yard on a table? Just be sure to clean up
well when you are done.
--------------------------------------Our butterfly and cross is an etching pattern, not a carving
SundaySchoolKids: decorate-and-carving-a-pumpkin-instructions
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2. Get your pattern, design or picture
Decide if it is for cutting into completely – carving
through or a pattern to scrape/etch the skin off in
some places
3. Setup your workspace. Cover the table.
Set out your tools.
4. Brace your pumpkin! Some people hold it in their lap. I
think this is dangerous if you are using a knife at all. Some
people use bricks on a table – with a towel or cloth over
them, put them behind the pumpkin and raise the front a
little bit on a brick or patio block . Put bricks all around.
You don’t want it to roll away while you are carving or
etching it. You can try to put it in a shallow baking pan –
square or rectangle on a towel or small clean rug so it
does not slip. What idea can you come up with to hold it in
place? (Ask you mom or dad to hold it?)
5. Get your pattern onto the pumpkin
I use toothpicks stuck right through the pattern.
You can try tape, but you do not want to pull off the
skin or have the pattern fall off part way through the
SundaySchoolKids: decorate-and-carving-a-pumpkin-instructions
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Depending on how fat or round your pumpkin is, you
may need to slit the pattern to better fit the shape of
your pumpkin. If you slit it, use clear tape over the slit.
You may need to move your toothpicks. Use at least 6
toothpicks and put them in spaces you will etch or
scrape away.
6. Transfer the pattern to the pumpkin:
With a shape pencil, trace the outline of the heart
shape or outermost shape if you are using a different
patter. Hold the paper to the pumpkin anyway that
works for you.
Get one or more of your pin hole outline tools. I like to
use a straight pin, especially in a smaller space.
Some kits come with pokers or tiny wheels with teeth
that will poke the pumpkin skin as you roll it along. (It
is fine for straight and slight curves, but not so good in
sharper curves)
SundaySchoolKids: decorate-and-carving-a-pumpkin-instructions
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When you think you have it all outlined, pick up an edge
of the paper and peek at the line.
Start the inside with the cross in our Cross with Butterfly
It is the easiest, straight lines. Get the feel of your tool.
SundaySchoolKids: decorate-and-carving-a-pumpkin-instructions
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As close together as possible.
The closer together you make the holes the easier it will
be to see the pattern and cut into it. 1/8th INCH OR LESS
APART is good. This takes time!
Look at the completed pattern back!
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7. Outlining: Remove the pattern carefully. Can you see
the holes easily? Here are ways to make the holes
A. Dust the pumpkin with either flour or white powder.
and blow or gently brush it off. The pinholes
should be white.
B. Get your red marker and connect the dots! If you have
a complicated design, fill-in any areas you will etch
or scrape. If there are some areas that you will
carve through entirely, fill those areas in with a
different color.
8. Use either a paring knife with parental guidance, or a
saw tip- if it has a tip, or nail file point to cut along all the
lines. If you are etching, you only need to cut into the
pumpkin skin ¼ inch or just enough to get through all the
skin. I use the tiny flat screwdriver and make many, many
overlapping cuts into the skin to end up with continuous
line cuts.
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8. Get your etching tools.
You have to peel or scrape
or gently dig or gouge away
the skin.
Etch around the easiest part
first to get a feeling for it.
Some people try to use a
paring knife, but I find it
dangerous, and not good for
small spaces.
Use your imagination for other tools that can be
adapted for etching. Metal things work best. The tip of
an old-fashioned potato peeler may be a good
I like a few smallish flathead screwdrivers to do the
job. Dig into the pumpkin at your cut line ¼ inch or
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less then tilt the screwdriver into an etch area and
push under the skin. Pry up. You usually won’t get an
entire area in one try. Be patient. Remove small bits
at a time. Be safe. Never put your other hand in front
of the screwdriver when pushing.
Remove all areas to be etched.
9. Your done with your design!
10. Preserving your pumpkin
Here are options to help delay molding or drying:
- Coat all surfaces with vegetable oil or
- Coat all surfaces with mixture of 1 cup water
with lemon juice or
- Cover all surfaces with petroleum jelly but what
a slippery mess!
- To keep squirrels from munching on it, coat all
surfaces with mixture of 1 cup water with
lemon juice and 2 tbs of Tabasco (hot) sauce
in it. Let dry before moving.
- Bring it inside if the temperature drops to about
or below freezing.
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- You can cover it with a damp paper towel and
put it in a grocery bag in your fridge if it gets
too hot out. Dry it well.
- If you are in a dry or arid place, or there’s a
constant breeze , lay a damp paper towel over
cut areas for a while during the morning to rehydrate it or prevent it from really drying out. If
you won’t like the way that looks, turn it to the
wall. A plain pumpkin is ok.
- Ants enjoy eating pumpkin too. Use whatever
you have found satisfactory to protect pets
and small children.
11. Lighting a pumpkin: candles need air. If you etched
your pumpkin, you will need to have carved a lid and
cleaned it out (see part 1). Be sure the inside bottom is as
flat as can be so the candle does not tip over. Good
candles are tea lights in small tin cups. Other good
candles are votives (Small fat ones) in glasses or jars
inside the pumpkin. An etched pumpkin will not be very
bright unless you scraped the inside “meat” to about ½
inch thick and that is hard to do. Etched pumpkins are best
lit with candles outside of them in jars or glasses.
--------------------------------------Time: Please note, this detailed pumpkin with cleaning it
out took over 2 ½ hours. Other designs we offer do not
take as long.