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This year, try an upgrade on the usual toothy jack-o’-lantern and carve something that looks like art. The clip-art designs here, created by crafts editor Marcie McGoldrick and professional carver Marc Evan, show how the same things that attract you to textiles and prints -- strong images, repeating graphics -- make for a beautiful pumpkin. The results are so sophisticated and eye-catching, sometimes they don’t even need the help of a candle to shine.
The stacked display features a repeating pattern: The design is carved a few times around the lower pumpkin and aligns with a continuation -- plus an owl -- on the smaller ‘Blue Moon’ pumpkin on top.
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If Louis Comfort Tiffany ever carved a pumpkin, it may have looked like this one from illustrator Marc Evan, cofounder of Maniac Pumpkin Carvers, in Brooklyn. These Art Nouveau–inspired flowers and leaves drape from the top, just as in the stained-glass lampshades.
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A simple checked pattern becomes playfully spooky with staggered small icons instead of blocks of color. Marc Evan created these crow and skull icons, which are accented with freehand Xs.
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Study in Contrast
Find art in juxtaposition: not only by placing a five-pound little guy next to a 90-pound prizewinner, but also by re-creating the look of rich Fortuny fabric ... in the humble flesh of a pumpkin. (To prolong the pumpkin’s life, don’t gut it: The design is so strong, it doesn’t need the added contrast of backlighting.)
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A Place for Lace
You need little more than a drill (and three bits) to create this doily effect. The intricate and lacy look is achieved by repeating a wedge pattern. Given how small some of these holes are, the design allows for errors. (This one has mistakes -- but can you even tell?)
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Double Daisy Chains
Daisies have an uncomplicated beauty that lends well to graphic design (look no further than Marimekko’s archive). On these, the pattern is positioned both vertically and horizontally, so the stems snake either around or over the pumpkins. The flowers’ bright centers are pierced with a drill.
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It's a Wrap
This carving is all about size and subtlety: The squatness of the large squash is ideal for a looping horizontal design, and the low contrast in hue between carved and uncarved flesh plays up the fluffy, textural mums.
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What to Ponder at the Patch
Design dictates shape: If you know what design you want to make, pick a pumpkin accordingly. Tall, oblong ones will work best for vertical designs, whereas short, squat ones are better for horizontals.
Flat can be fine: Some pumpkins have a flatter side (where they rested against the ground as they grew). Work it to your advantage, since carving on a flat surface is easier than carving on a rounded one.
Give it a spin: If you plan to group pumpkins, rotate them to see how your design will continue from one to the next. Also try rotating if you’re stacking pumpkins: Some nest better at certain angles. (Leave the bottom pumpkin’s stem intact, or just trim it -- cutting it off can invite premature rotting.)
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