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Pumpkins with Scary Etched Silhouettes

This sideboard tableau intersperses luminous pumpkins with a decanter of wine, a stand with fruit, and other objects evocative of Edgar Allan Poe and his tales of horror.

Photography: Antoine Bootz

Source: Martha Stewart


To render the glowing silhouettes, we used two techniques: The bright candelabrum and goblet are cut through the pumpkins' walls, while the textured quill and skull are pared gently from the outer shells. Pumpkins of different hues, including white 'Lumina,' a green-gray 'Jarrahdale,' and burnt-orange cheese pumpkins, add tonal variety.


  • Keyhole saw to cut the opening

  • Plaster scraper, fleshing tool, or sharp, sturdy spoon for scooping out the pulpy flesh and thinning the walls

  • Awl, for transferring the template patterns

  • Narrow-blade and wide-blade linoleum cutters for etching designs

  • Miniature saw for carving designs

  • String lights

  • Glass jar


  1. Cut a hole in base of pumpkin with keyhole saw.

  2. Scoop out seeds and flesh with plaster scraper, fleshing tool, or spoon; thin walls if desired.

  3. Choose templates. Reduce or enlarge as needed, and tape to pumpkin. Using an awl, pierce holes along perimeter of template; remove to reveal pattern outline.

  4. Using narrow-blade linoleum cutter, remove skin along perimeter of your design. Then use wide-blade cutter to pare away skin within design. (The more skin you pare, the brighter the design will glow.)

  5. Carve out your design using miniature saw. For intricate patterns with tight corners, work in sections.

  6. Once the carving is complete, wrap string lights around the glass jar, then place jar inside pumpkin. We prefer this technique because you won't have to worry about the lights going out in your display.

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