Inspired by paint-by-numbers kits, our carve-by-color technique requires scraping away the skin and sawing holes in strategic spots to create a pumpkin that looks richly textured and multitonal.
For the best results, look for a pumpkin that suits the particular size and shape of your chosen template. Also, be sure to look for one that's firm all over -- soft spots near the stem or base can indicate premature rot.
This witch's glowering appeal is all about her evil eyes and malicious mouth -- you cut through the pumpkin only in those few spots and then scrape away the skin to create her creepy complexion and the full moon.
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. (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.)
Download the witch clip-art template. With scissors, cut away white part of template. Attach design to pumpkin with masking tape. (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.
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. For detailed areas, such as around the eyes, use a small No. 1 or No. 2 blade. For larger areas, such as over the forehead, the cheeks, and the chin, use a No. 3 blade. Scrape in the same direction in each section to keep the lines uniform.
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 bouquetlike 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.
Once the pumpkin is lit, you may want to do a few touch-ups: If the light shines unevenly through her face or the moon behind her, the flesh may be thicker in some spots; simply scrape away a little more wherever it appears darker.
When finished, place a few candles and dark "potion" bottles around the pumpkin for an extra-creepy effect.