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Haunted House Carved Pumpkins

Light flickers from within these haunted houses.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2010

Introduction

Before you begin, learn how we created these textured effects using a carve-by-color technique.

 

Hilltop haunted houses have their windows ablaze with spookiness in these carvings. Choose tall, oblong pumpkins to showcase the vertical designs. Scrape the ring in an up-and-down motion with a linoleum cutter to further accentuate the houses' narrow height. 

 

To display, place the pumpkins on plates and then surround them with leaves and fine straw to simulate the eerie look of a neglected front lawn. To be on the safe side, use electric twinkle lights rather than a candle to illuminate any pumpkin you set off with decorations such as these.

materials

  • Pumpkins
  • Keyhole saw
  • Scissors
  • Fleshing tool
  • Masking tape
  • T pins
  • Needle tool
  • Miniature saw
  • Linoleum cutter with No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 blades
  • Electric twinkle lights or candle
  • Glass jar (optional)

steps

  1. Place pumpkin on its side on a flat, stable work surface. Use keyhole saw to cut a circle through the base or the top of the pumpkin. (Tip: If lighting with electric twinkle lights, cut the hole in the bottom; if lighting with a candle, cut at the top for ventilation.) Reserve the cutout. With fleshing tool, remove seeds, stringy pulp, and a thin layer of flesh from inside of pumpkin. A clean, smooth interior reflects light best. (Reserve seeds for toasting if desired.)

  2. Download and print templates. With scissors, cut away white part of template. Attach design to pumpkin with masking tape. (Tip: You may need to cut slits around the template and overlap so it conforms to the roundness.) Using a T pin or needle tool, prick every 1/8 to 1/4 inch along outlines of template. Remove template, but keep it nearby for reference.

  3. Using miniature saw, carve through pumpkin's skin and flesh in the sections that correspond to the template's yellow parts. Remove excess flesh.

  4. Use linoleum cutter to scrape pumpkin skin in sections that correspond to the light-orange parts of the template. Start with the outside of the design and work inward. Scrape in the same direction in each section to keep the lines uniform.

  5. If lighting a large pumpkin with mini lights, wrap a glass jar with a strand, securing one end to jar with masking tape. To light a small pumpkin, arrange strand's bulbs into a bouquet-like bundle and place wires in a glass jar or ramekin. Use a 25-light strand for small and medium pumpkins, and a 50-light strand for larger pumpkins. If using lights, place jar on reserved cutout base of pumpkin, then place pumpkin over lights. (Make sure the lights don't touch the inside surface; this can be a fire hazard.) Secure base cutout with T pins.

  6. Once the pumpkin is lit, you may want to do a few touch-ups: If the light shines unevenly, the flesh may be thicker in some spots; simply scrape away a little more wherever it appears darker.

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